Knitting in the traditional culture of the Turkmen people

Knitting in the traditional culture of the Turkmen people

Although known to the Turkmens since ancient times, knitting has played a more modest role in folk art than carpet making, embroidery, weaving, and has found its most vivid expression in gülli joraps, socks with ornamental motifs.

Joraps or juraps, thick knitted socks, were very common in countries of Central and Southwest Asia, and Caucasus, which had sources of wool and traditional arts and crafts.

Over many centuries Turkmen knitters have developed their own system of ornamental motifs and various color schemes, which give gülli joraps a distinctive national flavor.

These socks are made from homespun sheep’s wool yarn. Turkmen women processed wool themselves and this process was quite labor intensive. Back in the past, natural plant dyes were used to dye yarn in different colors with chemical dyes commonly used now. Home produced yarn has given place to factory-made yarn with rayon thread for added strength. New characteristics of wool affect the texture of warm socks.

Back then, the socks were knitted with homemade wooden knitting needles. Like in the 19th century, metal needles are still used now. Despite a rather simple knitting technique, what sets these socks apart are their special ornamental elements created with a blend of contrasting colors and a traditional geometric pattern. Motifs are very well defined and immensely varied.

Knitted socks are worn both by women and men alike. Like women’s, men’s socks are knitted with the one-color heel. The leg of men’s socks is longer (40-45 cm) than that of women’s. When it is cold, pants are neatly tucked into them. Men’s socks are usually patternless, it is by no means uncommon for them to have patterns, though.

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