Ersari main carpet with a 3 rows of large Ersari Guls, a common form of which Eiland & Eiland write in their book Oriental rugs - the Complete Guide: "It occurs on more early pieces than any of the others" [guls]. While this is just an indication of age, the excellent all natural colours, the abrashed madder field, the use of a very nice apricot (from madder) which the Eilands notes as characteristic for older pieces, and other structural characteristics (irregularities in the pattern such as the use of different filling motives at the side of the field) support an earlier attribution within the second half of the 19th century.
The Eilands note that the Ersari attribution is in general rather problematic and that what is commonly ascribed to Ersari may fact stand for a number of tribes. A hint towards a narrower attribution comes from Ford, who in his seminal book, Oriental Carper Design, links a secondary gul that shares many features (the starred ends) with the secondary gul used here to the Taghan tribe (p177, fig. 399, gul 36).
Two secondary guls fill the space between the rows of main guls: a hexagonal lattice device with eight stars at the outer end forming an octagon shape (a motive which also functions as central motive of the main guls), and a simple diagonal cross ending in the rounded stylized triple flowers that also occur in the outer fields of the main gul. The economic use of the pattern repertoire gives this rug a high degree of visual coherence and closure.
The border system is very simple, with just one main border and a narrow diagonally striped inner guard border. The main border is build on a row of serrated diamonds which shows the occasional pleasing variation in terms of colour or type of central motive: mostly rosettes, some quartered, diamonds, a few stars near the top, one only with two bars, and mostly no central motives down the left side. Why the weaver went for this irregularity which nicely balances the overall regularity of the turkmen pattern, I have no idea.
The carpet measures 8ft.2in. x 6ft.5in. (249cm x 196cm). The foundation is all wool with no depression, asymmetric knots open to the right as usual for most Ersari work. The knot count is 8 knots per inch horizontal to 9 knots vertical (ca. 72 kpsi). The warps are from medium brown z-spun s-plied wool, two weft shots of various shades of light to medium brown, s-plied rather thin wool. The handle is flexible and leather-like.
The colours are very good and deeply saturated, I am pretty sure all are from natural dyes. No bleeding or tip fading and a nice subtle abrash. The deep and brillant warm madder red is complemented by two shades of indigo, black-blue and medium/dark blue; a brilliant sparingly used yellow; and a beautiful madder-based apricot used mainly in the topmost and bottommost main guls in the quarterd outer fields.There is also a bit of off-white used for outlining and accents around the star shapes around the hexagonal grid devices.
The rug has mostly good and lustrous pile but there are larger areas of heavier wear in the top-left, the centre, centre right and near the centre botton, with pile in some places down to the knots and the brown foundation showing (see images). There are no bare areas except for a narrow band across the border on the right side - not sure what caused this since the rug lies flat of the floor. There is a palm-sized old reweave (visible but not obtrusive) with decent but not pefect colour match, framed in some places with a bit of red darning round the warps, probably a later coarser repair (see detail images, fron and backside).
I would expect the rug once had ends with kilim skirts, but I am not sure. If the border was intended as symmetrical, a few rows of knots are missing at top and bottom. The fringe has been secured. The narrow single cord selvage is wrapped in medium brown wool (probably not original) and is mainly in good order, with some areas showing a bit of unrevelling and a few inches of improvised repair / rewrapping near the top left.
The rug is not dirty, but also not washed recenty. No stains, rot or stiff areas. I can see no holes or cuts apart from a short vertical slit visible on one detail image). Apart from the small repair (repiling-darning) described above, I see no other repairs.