Turkmen silk and embroidery are an outstanding heritage of Central Asia, with each different pattern identifying the clan and tribe of its artist like a family seal. You can watch the entire process of Keteni silk making on a visit to a silk-making family. The raw silk is dyed with natural and artificial dyes, spun and with the help of family and neighbours prepared and woven into colourful, hard 30 cm wide silk lengths used for the dresses worn by Turkmen women on special occasions. Visit a traditional home where Teke girls are stitching silk Yaka embroidery for the national women's dress and the Chirpy overcoats mainly worn by older women of all tribes as head coverings. You can visit friendly carpet, silk weaving and embroidery-stitching families on a half-day trip in Ashgabat or most other cities. In spring you can also take part in the actual making of raw silk from the cocoons of the silk worms.
Turkmenistan is the native land of silk homespun fabric called "keteni". Turkmen has been successfully practicing sericulture for many centuries: their homespun fabrics owing to their durability and brightness as was beauty of patterns were really appreciated and demanded. The determining feature of “keteni" is color, which depends on the quality of dyes. In accordance with ancient technologies the fabrics were dyed only by vegetable colors which were distinguished by the brightness of shades, durability and ecological purity. Turkmenistan carpets major color was red which according to national beliefs possesses magic properties, protects from malicious forces; besides, people have always identified red color with everything that is beautiful and cheerful. Red color was especially popular with girls and children.
One of the sources of red paint for Turkmen carpet masters was a plant called madder which grew in abundance on salted lands where other plants could not survive. To receive the tints of dark blue and blue colors Turkmen used indigo. Other dyes were dried pomegranate and onion peels as well as tea.
In order to reinforce the fabric the skilled workers used alum, and for bleaching - potash and ash from coals. Processed, starched and polished to luster "keteni" makes a bewitching impression of a heavenly-made fabric and radiates brilliance and wealth.
The clothes made from "keteni" have been worn both by men and women. But if men's fashion was limited mainly to shirts, women collected a whole wardrobe of dresses and scarves. Dresses made from "keteni" still remain a traditional bride's outfit.
Today like long time ago "keteni" making remains a cottage craft. This work as well as any other manual craft is an extremely laborious and labor-consuming. Turkmen craftswomen until now have been using ancient weaving looms called " tara " which were used in the faraway past thus achieving high quality which amazes with perfection of decorative ornamentation...