Article: Iranian nomads, and ORTS event in London tonight

A nomadic family during their migration. © Newsha Tavakolian

Why Iran’s nomads are fading away, with text by Thomas Erdbrink and wonderful photographs by Newsha Tavakolian, is a very thought-provoking article on the difficulties faced by Iranian nomads.

There are over a million nomads in Iran, and for many years they have followed a traditional lifestyle which involved moving their animals along ancient routes to cool pastures in the Zagreb mountains every spring. Now many transport their belongings on trucks instead of horseback. The number of black tents being set up in the pastures is dwindling year on year as young people sell off their flocks and move to the towns. One of the main reasons for this change seems to be the desire for education. As one woman put it “I won’t let my daughters marry a nomad,” she said. “Our lifestyle is horrible. I want them to live in a city and study.” Do click through the slideshow near the beginning of the article for extra images and information.

Reading this brings to mind the famous film Grass: A Nation’s Battle for Life made about the Bakhtiari migration in 1925. The numbers of people involved in that migration in contrast to the situation today is stark. Fifty thousand people, led by Haidar Khan, made this trek which lasted for 48 days and involved crossing an icy river on inflated goat skins. Seeing them climb the snowy mountains – in one case with a man carrying a donkey on his back – makes you realise just how desperate these people were to reach the life-sustaining grass on the other side. This really is a truly remarkable film, a ten-minute excerpt of which can be viewed here and is highly recommended.

Last year the Metropolitan Museum in New York held an exhibition entitled Portable Storage: Tribal Weavings from the Collection of William and Inger Ginsberg, which I blogged about here.

Spindle bag. Gift of Inger G. and William B. Ginsberg, 2015. © Metropolitan Museum.

More information on the various tribes, as well as their weavings can be found on the website of the Metropolitan Museum here.

Khamseh bird rug. © Paul R Benjamin

Tonight – Wednesday 20 February 2019 Professor Paul R Benjamin is giving a talk on South Persian Rugs, Bags and Saddle Covers to the Oriental Rug and Textile Society of Great Britain (ORTS). Professor Benjamin’s subjects  will include Qashqa’i Shekarlu rugs and Khamseh saddle covers . This talk in Piccadilly, London, is also open to non-members. Click here for further details.

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Event: Indian Tents – Matters of Silk and Velvet

Event date: Wednesday 5 December 2018 19:00

This Oriental Rug and Textile Society (ORTS) talk is by Dr Peter Andrews, the acknowledged expert on tents.

From the time of the Delhi Sultanate, if not earlier, the tents used by Indian rulers were a matter of great prestige, as representing their presence before the public. They were used at court to shelter not only the sovereign, but those attending him in huge numbers, and palace buildings were planned ab initio for extension with tentage over the courtyards. The increasing size of royal domains, too, made it essential, in an age of poor communications, for the ruler to tour them extensively, and the camp acquired an additional purpose, besides the obvious military one, of a temporary palace from which justice could be administered.

Peter Andrews, M.A. (Cantab), Ph.D. (Lond) wrote his Ph.D thesis for SOAS (London) on the history of tents in the Middle East, Hindustan and Central Asia. He first studied architecture in India in 1960. From 1966 he conducted extensive fieldwork on nomad tents in Morocco, Turkey, Iran, Qatar, Mongolia and Qirgizstan, and on urban tents in museums throughout Europe and India, besides surveying a village in Northern Areas, Pakistan. In 2006 he was made an honorary research fellow at the University of Bristol (Anthropology).

For more information visit the ORTS website

Location: St James Piccadilly Conference Room, 197 Piccadilly, London W1J 9LL

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Event: Chinese Indigo Dyeing

 

Event date: Wednesday 19 September, 19:00.

This event, run by the Oriental Rug and Textile Society, features John Abbate of Bluehanded talking about how the  ancient cultural heritage of hand-printed fabrics has a rich history and exciting contemporary future. Artisanal traditions of naturally dyed indigo ‘Lan Yin Hua Bu’ textiles are used for interior decor and fashion design. All the work is done by the hands of an Indigo Master and his family using locally sourced materials, which makes the fabric sustainable and ethical.

The dyeing technique, which has been unchanged for centuries, involves applying traditional hand-cut decorative patterns to natural cotton. Coating the fabric in soybean and lime paste, before soaking in specially formulated vat dyes, gives the timeless blue and white finish. Traditionally used as wedding gifts in the form of bedding and cloth bags, the patterns bestow auspicious wishes such as good luck, long life and wellbeing.

After 25 years of retail design experience with Ralph Lauren, Levi’s and Alfred Dunhill John moved to China as a retail brand consultant where he stumbled upon a beautiful blue and white cloth in the rubble of a Hutong in China. This discovery served as a starting point for his textile company. To John, luxury is in the unique perfect imperfection, individuality and craftsmanship that goes into the making each length of fabric. He works with designers to create new patterns that keep the ancient traditions alive.
For more details visit the website of the Oriental Rug and Textile Society

 

Location:  St James Piccadilly Conference Room, 197 Piccadilly, London W1J 9LL

Event: ORTS Film Night

 

 

Event date: Wednesday 20 June 2018 at 6.30pm, St. James Piccadilly 

As part of their summer programme the Oriental Rug and Textile Society (ORTS) will be hosting a film night focussing on the Bakhtiari.

Antony Wynn, who spent many years living in rural Iran, will be showing two films about the migration of the Bakhtiari tribes.  The first one “Grass” is a classic silent film made in 1925 by three Americans who made their way across Turkey and Iraq to meet the Bakhtiari in their winter quarters  and follow them and their flocks over swollen rivers and up over snow-covered mountain passes to reach their summer pastures.  It is a very dramatic film and shows clearly how tough life was for the nomads in those days.

The second film “People of the Wind” was made by the late Shusha Guppy in 1976, following the same route with descendants of the same people, and it shows what had changed and what had stayed the same over those fifty years. This could be a long evening, so there will be an interval between the two films.

The doors open from 6pm with drinks and snacks being served. Non-members are welcome at a charge of £7 (£5 for students).

For details of the location visit the ORTS website

Event: Bernhard and Erika Bart Talk about Sumatran Songket Weaving for ORTS

© Peggy Reeves Sanday

Event date: Wednesday 13 December, 7pm

This is an Oriental Rug and Textile Society event.

Bernhard and Erika Bart from Switzerland have a personal project to revitalise the art of silk brocade ‘Songket’ weaving. They will talk about their work, research and the culture in which they live. Photos of the Barts have been on the front page of the Jakarta Post with the headline ‘Bernhard Bart and Erika Dubler: Unconditional Love for Songket’. They are bringing textiles to show us.

The talk will be held at St James Conference Room, 197 Piccadilly, London W1J 9LL.

The Conference Room entrance is in the Church Place passageway, which runs between Jermyn Street and Piccadilly.  There is a wrought iron gate signed ‘Church Hall Conference Room’ leading downstairs.  Drinks and snacks will be served.

Piccadilly Circus tube is 5 minutes’ walk, and Green Park Tube is 10 minutes’ walk.  There is free parking in St James Square after 6.30pm.

Please note this is an Oriental Rug and Textile Society event, but non-members are welcome to attend: £7 single lecture, £5 students, or choose £20 for one year’s membership (11 events).

For more information, visit the website of the Oriental Rug and Textile Society.

Event: Helen Mears speaks about the James Henry Green Collection at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery for ORTS

Event date: Wednesday 22 November, 7pm

This is an Oriental Rug and Textile Society event.

Colonel James Henry Green assembled a pre-eminent collection of textiles, photographs, notes, books and diaries from the northern hill states of Burma/Myanmar in the 1920s and 30s. In particular, Green’s documentation of life in Kachin State in northern Burma/Myanmar constitutes a rare if not unique visual record of life in this area at this time. In 1992, the James Henry Green Charitable Trust chose Brighton Museum & Art Gallery to be the long-term caretaker of the collection.

Helen Mears is Keeper of World Art at Royal Pavilion & Museums and a lecturer and doctoral student at the University of Brighton. In this talk, she will introduce the Green collection and talk about its continuing relevance to Kachin people in and outside of Burma/Myanmar.

The talk will be held at St James Conference Room, 197 Piccadilly, London W1J 9LL.

The Conference Room entrance is in the Church Place passageway, which runs between Jermyn Street and Piccadilly.  There is a wrought iron gate signed ‘Church Hall Conference Room’ leading downstairs.  Drinks and snacks will be served.

Piccadilly Circus tube is 5 minutes’ walk, and Green Park Tube is 10 minutes’ walk.  There is free parking in St James Square after 6.30pm.

Please note this is an Oriental Rug and Textile Society event, but non-members are welcome to attend: £7 single lecture, £5 students, or choose £20 for one year’s membership (11 events).

For more information, visit the website of the Oriental Rug and Textile Society.

Event: Ali Istalifi Talks about Suzani, Ikat and other Central Asian Textiles for ORTS

Event date: Wednesday 25 October, 7pm

This is an Oriental Rug and Textile Society event.

Ali Istalifi gave the successful lecture on Central Asian Ikat at the SOAS Brunei Gallery World Ikat Textile Symposium in 2016. Born in Afghanistan to a family of dealers for three generations on Kabul’s famous Chicken Street, Ali has a large collection, and unique access to the subject as a fluent speaker of Dari. He will bring textiles to show us.

The talk will be held at St James Conference Room, 197 Piccadilly, London W1J 9LL.

The Conference Room entrance is in the Church Place passageway, which runs between Jermyn Street and Piccadilly.  There is a wrought iron gate signed ‘Church Hall Conference Room’ leading downstairs.  Drinks and snacks will be served.

Piccadilly Circus tube is 5 minutes’ walk, and Green Park Tube is 10 minutes’ walk.  There is free parking in St James Square after 6.30pm.

Please note this is an Oriental Rug and Textile Society event, but non-members are welcome to attend: £7 single lecture, £5 students, or choose £20 for one year’s membership (11 events).

For more information, visit the website of the Oriental Rug and Textile Society.

Event: Living with the Shahsevan – A talk by Richard Tapper for ORTS

 

Event date: Wednesday 19 April 2017, 6–9 pm

This is an Oriental Rug and Textile Society event.

Richard says: “I lived among Shahsevan nomads in the 1960s, when their weavings were almost unknown, or commonly labelled ‘Kurdish’ or ‘Qarabagh’. I visited them again briefly in 1968, 1973, and then in 1993 and 1995 – by which time of course their weavings were very well-known, and production had been widely commercialised. I shall describe life among the nomads, give some background to their history, and some details on the weaving that I observed, all illustrated with slides from the field.”
R.L. Tapper, MA PhD, is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology with reference to the Middle East.

The talk will be held at St James Conference Room, 197 Piccadilly, London W1J 9LL.

The Conference Room entrance is in the Church Place passageway, which runs between Jermyn Street and Piccadilly.  There is a wrought iron gate signed ‘Church Hall Conference Room’ leading downstairs.  Drinks and snacks will be served.

Piccadilly Circus tube is 5 minutes’ walk, and Green Park Tube is 10 minutes’ walk.  There is free parking in St James Square after 6.30pm.

Please note this is an Oriental Rug and Textile Society event, but non-members are welcome to attend: £7 single lecture, £5 students, or choose £20 for one year’s membership (11 events).

For more information, visit the website of the Oriental Rug and Textile Society.

Event: Scott Redford Talks about Medieval Anatolian Animal Carpets and Seljuk Art for ORTS

ORTS - Medieval Anatolian Animal Carpets

Event date: Wednesday 23 March 2016, 7pm

This is an Oriental Rug and Textile Society event.

Scott Redford, Nasser D. Khalili Professor of Islamic Art & Archaeology at SOAS, will give a lecture on medieval Anatolian animal carpets and Seljuk art. Scott has published widely on the art, archaeology and architecture of medieval Anatolia and the eastern Mediterranean.

The talk will be held at St James Conference Room, 197 Piccadilly, London W1J 9LL.

The Conference Room entrance is in the Church Place passageway, which runs between Jermyn Street and Piccadilly.  There is a wrought iron gate signed ‘Church Hall Conference Room’ leading downstairs.  Drinks and snacks will be served.

Piccadilly Circus tube is 5 minutes’ walk, and Green Park Tube is 10 minutes’ walk.  There is free parking in St James Square after 6.30pm.

Please note this is an Oriental Rug and Textile Society event, but non-members are welcome to attend: £7 single lecture, £5 students, or choose £20 for one year’s membership (11 events).

For more information, visit the website of the Oriental Rug and Textile Society.

Event: Roberta Marin Talks about the Kaleidoscopic World of Mamluk Carpets for ORTS

ORTS - Mamluk Carpets

Event date: Wednesday 24 February 2016, 7pm

This is an Oriental Rug and Textile Society event.

Roberta will focus on the carpet production of the Mamluk Empire (1250–1517). Special attention will be dedicated to the patterns, the carpet trade between Egypt and Italy and the representation of Mamluk carpets in Italian Renaissance paintings.

Roberta Marin collaborates with the Khalili Collection and has previously taught Islamic Art and Architecture at Birkbeck College, London College of Communication, SOAS and the University of York. She completed her BA in Fine Arts in Italy and holds an MA in Islamic Art & Archaeology from SOAS. Her research interests include Mamluk art, Islamic carpets and modern and contemporary art from the Middle East and Iran.

The talk will be held at St James Conference Room, 197 Piccadilly, London W1J 9LL.

The Conference Room entrance is in the Church Place passageway, which runs between Jermyn Street and Piccadilly.  There is a wrought iron gate signed ‘Church Hall Conference Room’ leading downstairs.  Drinks and snacks will be served.

Piccadilly Circus tube is 5 minutes’ walk, and Green Park Tube is 10 minutes’ walk.  There is free parking in St James Square after 6.30pm.

Please note this is an Oriental Rug and Textile Society event, but non-members are welcome to attend: £7 single lecture, £5 students, or choose £20 for one year’s membership (11 events).

For more information, visit the website of the Oriental Rug and Textile Society.