عنوان مقاله [English]
The local costume of every ethnicity is considered as a sign of the social, geographical, religious, and cultural identity. Accordingly, among the most prominent cultural signs of Iranian Turkmen, who live in Gorgan, Turkmen Sahra, and the mountainous part of Golestan Province, are their costumes and their particular decorations. Despite their Islamic faith, they have inherited their ancestors’ beliefs in Totemism and Shamanism. Although these beliefs and thoughts no longer pervade their public life as determining factors, their effect remains and continues in the representation of designs and pictures on their everyday life objects. One of the contexts that provides a space to embroider these patterns is the needlework in Turkmen costumes. These costumes are ornamented by silk threads (Yufk) elegantly and they are valued based on their needlework. One of the most distinguished manifestations of needlework in Turkmen costumes is found on women’s pantaloons called Balaq and known as “Ayaq Orani”. Among the different patterns used in “Ayaq Orani”, animal instances are depicted in more extensive specter compared to other patterns (human and floral, inanimate objects, geometrical). In this regard, the purpose of this study was the recognition of animal patterns on Turkmen Balaq needlework and the analysis of their meaning and signification in order to explain the influence of local culture and ritualistic beliefs on the formation of Turkmen needlework patterns. In this way, this study investigates the relationship between indigenous culture, among animal patterns of Turkmen's needlework. Thus, the research question was posed as follows: In what format animal patterns in Turkmen women’s pantaloons (Balaq) are defined and what concepts do they signify? The hypothesis was that these patterns were a kind of reflection of the surrounding living environment of Turkmen women and have been repeated to emphasis its sanctity and splendor. The significance of the study was that recognizing the Turkmen women’s Balaq patterns in an explanatory method and speculating their symbolic meanings would not only add to the technical knowledge in this field and help preserve the culture but also generalize such an approach to the inspirational sources for costume designers. In fact, this basic research attempted to extend this field of study and demonstrate the properties and the probable foundations of a reality. Therefore, this study was descriptive-analytical as it was an attempt to analyze Turkmen needlework patterns and speculate their cultural symbolic meanings. The data were collected through library and field research using indexing, observation, and picture examination and they were analyzed qualitatively. First, the life of Iranian Turkmen tribes and their cultural beliefs was reviewed briefly; next, the women’s articles of clothing were studied and the importance of Turkmen women’s pantaloons was discussed. Then, some of the most frequent animal patterns in Turkmen women’s Balaq needlework was studied. The results of the study showed that these patterns in the designs of animals such as fish, snails, mouflons, camels, scorpions, spiders, geese, and birds are defined in abstract format and sometimes are depicted completely and at timed a part of the body of the animal implies its whole. Nonetheless, these patterns represent their cultural origin in several ways: first, in general, they are the reflection of the surrounding environment of Turkmen women and portray their concern for life and their daily bread. Second, in many cases, the patterns are connected, consciously or unconsciously, to their ethnical old beliefs about Totem and Shamanism and perhaps this is why they are manifested in animal form more often than not. Some animals had special prominence in the Totemic beliefs of Turkmen ancestors (1). Starry sturgeon, as a kind of caviar fish in the Caspian Sea, is considered one of the most important sources of income and food among Turkmens and is probably related to their ancestors’ belief in Totemism. By repeating the illustration of starry sturgeon, the Turkmen woman seeks the fertility of her family’s source of food and income like a prayer in addition to paying a tribute to her ancestors’ belief in Totemism consciously or unconsciously (2). The spiral pattern of the snail evokes its connection with the soil and is correlated with natural signs related to agriculture such as the moon as its orbit plays an important role in the life of a farmer. Moreover, it seems that in addition to representing natural life, Turkmen women depicted the trace of their ancestors and Totemism by picturing snails on their Balaqs (3). Besides depicting the influence of Totem beliefs, the figure of spider was used as a protection from the evil and the evil eye and entered Turkmen art accordingly and probably has remained in Ayaq Orani based on this background (4). The figure of mouflon horns symbolizes supernatural powers and deities. Accordingly, the repeated figure of mouflon horns, like a prayer, is to gain blessings associated with it and such a resort to imagination is manifested in different everyday life objects including the needlework on women’s pantaloons (5). The figure of bird wings is one of most ancient patterns among Turkmens which is credited in their legends. In one view, the simplified figure of bird wings recalls the forgotten Totem of the clan and the Turkmen woman achieved her goal, i.e., the representation of cultural belief, by simplifying the figure of the bird and picturing its wings (6). The goose leg figure indicates another source of food for Turkmens; additionally, geese, as a kind of waterfowl, find their food in the water and are skilled fishers. Therefore, gaining and developing this skill in human beings could be another reason for the appearance and dynamicity of this figure (7). As depicted on Turkmen carpets, the figure of the camel is sewn in the form of needlework on Turkmen women’s Balaqs in order to honor the power and status of the animal and seek its qualities for its owner like a prayer (8).The four eyes figure in Turkmen Balaq needlework is made from four mouflon horns and its root is associated with the evil eye as many cultures believe that the energy from the gaze of a person could bring harm and disease and they have to protect themselves by resorting to different prayers and Dhikrs [remembrances]. As a result, Balaq not only functions as clothing for the body but also includes figures that protect its owner against the invisible but powerful evils (9). The figure of the yellow scorpion [deathstalker] has a similar function. This figure is sewn on the top of the Balaq needlework, not necessarily and always limited to the figure of the scorpion, and is based on patterns inspired by the Turkmens’ living environment. They believe that scorpion symbolizes protection against evil and perhaps that is why it is repeatedly sewn on Turkmen women’s Balaqs like a prayer targeting any evil or harm. Despite these probable interpretations, it could be claimed that the Turkmen woman, as an experienced artist, not only represents her surrounding world abstractly but also seeks goodness, abundance, and protection from difficulties and unhappiness by repeating these patterns like a Ta’wiz, prayer, or charm. Therefore, she gives an identity to a usual pattern or picture by such signification and as a result, the animal element gains symbolic meaning and spiritual value regardless of the species to which it belongs.