Prior to the Chinese occupation in 1878, the area in western China above Tibet
was called East Turkestan. Even though the area itself is no longer called East Turkestan, the rugs of this area are still
labeled as East Turkestan rugs. They may also be marketed under 'Samarkand' because East Turkestan rugs used to be traded
in Samarkand. The main East Turkestan sub-styles include Kashgar, Yarkand and Khotan. East Turkestan rugs have always been
rare, and they are still being woven on a small scale.
Pomegranate & Vase
The layout of East Turkestan rugs
can be either medallion or all-over. Their pattern is mainly geometric. East Turkestan rugs tend to be long and narrow. A
very common design is the pomegranate and vase, which is a symbol of fertility. The vase symbolizes Mother Earth and the pomegranate
is the fruit growing from Mother Earth. The vase could be on one end or both ends of the rug and is usually very small, even
smaller than the pomegranates. The pomegranates are attached to each other with branches like a tree.
Buddha & Acolytes
Another frequent design consists of three medallions on a solid background. The medallions
are sometimes squares with rounded corners or hexagons. The middle medallion represents Buddha; the other two medallions represent
Buddha's acolytes. Other versions also exist such as one medallion and corners, or less common, eight to ten medallions in
two columns inside square lattices, which could be considered an all-over layout. East Turkestan medallions usually consist
of smaller medallions within larger ones.
Another design is a repeating
all-over gul. The guls have hooks around their outer border and a rosette inside them. A very common border motif is
a shape resembling an anchor, which can sometimes be quite large. Rosettes with eight petals are also common in the borders.
They can also come in various sizes. The usual background colors are red, blue, salmon, ivory, or yellow. The colors most
commonly used for the motifs are red, blue, light blue, blue green, white, yellow, and brown.