The Richard E. Wright Research Reports; a Compilation of Notes Concerning the Nature and Origins of Textiles
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Recovery Begins

July 2015


These brief reports show the beginnings of the carpet-making revival of the mid-1920’ and its contrast with the period immediately before World War I.


“The carpet industry is particularly important.  During the Imperialist and Civil Wars, when the supply of raw materials, in particular dyestuffs, was suspended, the industry came to a halt.  In the pre-war period there were almost 40,000 female carpet-weavers within the borders of what is now Uzbekestan, producing up to 15,000 carpets a year.  To revive the carpet industry for both export and the domestic market, not less than 300,000 rubles needs to be spent.” 1


“In 1913 the export of carpets abroad brought in 1,244 thousand roubles.  The most important role in this was played by carpets from Turkmenistan.  According to information supplied by the Carpet Committee of Turkmenistan, the value of carpet production in the Merv and Pendi areas alone was estimated at over 320,000 roubles in 1910, while in 1915 18 thousand pieces were produced at a total value of over one million roubles (80,000 items).  The annual pre-war production of carpets and felts amounted to two million roubles.  According to information provided by the VSNKh [All-Union Council of the National Economy] of Turkmenistan, which was set up only temporarily, carpet production in 1925 earned 700,000 roubles.  However, the actual production of carpets for that year did not bring in more than 100,000 roubles, while the production of felts amounted to 200,000 roubles due to demand from the military..  More accurate facts are provided by the Poltoratsky district (through okrvnutorg). In the pre-war period more than 500-600 large carpets were produced in the district, while in the present day about 400 carpets are produced at a value of 75,000 roubles. About 600 palasi are produced at a value of 20,000 roubles.

“In the auls [villages] of Geok-Tepe in Poltaratsky district there is already a carpet cartel which provides 27 dekkhanki with work.  The carpet artel is run and supervised by the Geok Tepe Agricultural Society of the Kredeselsoiuz. Work is carried out in the kibitkas (dwelllings), with two or three women working on each one.  In all 27 carpets are being produced, three of them large (3 arshins [7 feet] wide).  It has been proposed that a carpet artel imeni Ene Kulieva be opened in Kizyl-Arvat, and there are also artels in the Merv region. “ 2


The number of pre-war weavers by districts: Kuba – 3,565; Shemakha – 4060; Kazak – 8100; Ganja – 2300; other districts - 44 02.  The number of weavers in 1924/25: Kuba – 2065; Shemakha – 1350; Kazak – 5,250; Ganja – none; other districts – 317. [these figures appear in the table on p. 23]

“The overall production of carpets in the 1924-5 financial year in the ASSR is calculated at 9,594 pieces, a decline of 1.5 times over the pre-war production figures for the industry.” 3

This report is a little vague in a couple of places but adequately illustrates the impact of what effectively was a ten year interruption of production.  The report is union-wide and comes from the central government. Soviet era statistics became notoriously unreliable, overstating accomplishments.  1926, however, is early days, and the reports numbers have a chance of being fairly accurate.

[1] Kustnarnaia i remeslennaia promyshlennost’ natsionalnyk respublik, Moscow, 1926, p. 6.

[2] ibid., p. 8

[3] ibid., p.23-24

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