TYPE: A short Wangden ‘runner’ from south central Tibet

CIRCA: later part 1800’s

A ‘Wangden-style’ (i.e. warp-faced-back) Tsokden – a runner or long carpet – of a type which according to the latest published research was woven to the north of Lhasa in the Meldro Gungkar region of Tibet (see Drumze – Metamorphoses of the Tibetan Carpet / Erhard & Wild / 2022). This research also points to the fact that these thick heavy carpets with their red ladder-like design – the research calls it an antenna-like T-symbol of obscure origins – on a simple yellow background were woven specifically and exclusively for monks to sit on in a monastery. Some were even so long that they had to be woven at the monastery! These thick sturdy carpets were perfect for long periods of meditation or discourse as they provided the maximum seating insulation when placed upon cold floors. Note in this piece the intriguing asymmetric design of the red ‘ladder’ – or antenna-like T-symbol – at either end, i.e. how the ‘ladder’s’ upper-most red rung is ‘closed’ across the top (in main photo), yet ‘open’ across the bottom. This is not a repair or pile reweave, as can be determined by the two top and bottom close-up comparison photos – where the white dots show the exact same location top and bottom. As can be seen there is no repair anywhere in those or the adjacent rows of weave in the carpet, the asymmetric red ladder design was intended to be like that.

This gives rise to the possibility of it being the shortened half of a longer runner that had a mirror image design on the other half (see example bottom right as to what the original may have looked like); or maybe it was just a carpet of similar dimensions as is seen here that has had one end replied because that end had been damaged. The construction is of fine hand-spun wool and yak hair with ‘frilly’ edges all around, and all the dyes are natural. What may appear to be a dirty or stained horizontal line across the center of the carpet is simply intermittent tufts of brown undyed wool that have been woven into the pile when it was made (see close-up of a small section of that area above). Other than the replied shortened end (that can be identified in the folded over photo of the carpet) there are no repairs or reweaves anywhere else to the main body of the carpet. Overall it is in good condition.

SIZE: 2.10m x 0.97m inc fringe

WARP: wool and yak hair

WEFT: wool