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In the heart of central Asia lies Turkmenistan. It is here that the traditional, handmade Turkmen rug originated. The original Turkmen rugs were made by various tribes throughout Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, most famously the Yomut, Ersari, Saryk, Salor, and Tekke. They were used as tent rugs, door hangings and bags and were made entirely from wool. They were very rich in color due to the vegetable and other natural dyes used.

Beginning in the 1910’s Pakistan and Iran began manufacturing rugs, calling them Turkmen rugs, for export. To the naked eye these mass produced rugs looked similar to the original Turkmens, often using a pattern of the Bukhara design. This, in combination with the central location and flourishing rug trade of the city of Bukhara in Uzbekistan, is probably what spurred a change in the west of the commonly used name from Turkmen rugs to Bukhara rugs. These rugs are generally made using synthetic dyes and have a cotton warp and weft, only the pile being 100% wool. These rugs are still manufactured there today.

When purchasing or appraising a rug it is important to differentiate between the original Turkmen rugs and the more common Bukhara. Though they can often carry the same name and similar physical appearances, the originals are far more rare and valuable than the others. In the Turkmenistan capital of Ashgabat there is the Turkmen Carpet Museum where there are preserved examples of the original Turkmen tribal rugs.

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