Image: Hanging or Cover (Suzani), c. 1850, Tashkent, Samarkand Province, Uzbekistan, cotton, silk, felt. Collection Mingei International Museum. Photo by Lynton Gardiner. 2005-33-001.

On View

Oct 12, 2008 - Aug 1, 2009

Curated By

Rochelle Kessler

This exhibition presented aspects of the rich artistic heritage of nomadic culture—traditions with origins in antiquity. Highlights included recent gifts to the Museum—a prize-winning Kyrgyz yurt, beautiful Persian bag faces and Central Asian hats.

The magnificent yurt, a round, domed, trellis-tent dwelling, 22 feet in diameter, won first prize in a national contest, celebrating the 1000th anniversary of the Kyrgyz epic Manas. Five years in design and construction, it boasts patterned screens, made of thin reed stems wrapped in colored wool, used for covering the latticed walls of the structure, as well as for room dividers. Felted wool, a Kyrgyz specialty, is seen in the yurt’s intricately patterned, colorful rugs. Braided tassels also contribute to the visual impact of the structure. The yurt, which was brought to the United States by Christy Walton, was originally shown at the Museum’s Balboa Park location in 1997 in the exhibition YURTA—A Central Asian Nomad’s Hearth and Home. Walton, a sponsor of both exhibitions, donated the yurt to the Museum in 2007.

Journeying from Kyrgyzstan to erect the large tent in the Museum’s ground floor Grand Plaza Gallery were Mekenbek Osmonaliyev, who with his mother designed and built the yurt, and brothers Ishembi and Raiymbek Obolbekov. As part of the installation process, the tent was put up and taken down several times between October 2 and 11 in order to film the process in detail. Visitors were able watch this fascinating procedure.

Also on view were rare Kyrgyz reed screens and stunning Turkoman, Uzbek and Kazakh costumes and textiles on loan from several private collections in Southern California as well as from the Museum’s permanent collection.

Dr. Sussana Babaie, visiting scholar at the Getty Research Institute and an authority on Islamic art and architecture, presented a lecture “Persianate Traditions The City and theMeadow” on November 1, 2008. A workshop, “Inspired Felting,” took place on November 8, 2008. On December 13, 2008 a Persian Family Festival took place that included traditional music and dance and calligraphy demonstrations. “The Yurt—Ancient Dwelling, Modern Lifestyle” was the subject of a lecture by Alan Bair, owner and president of Pacific Yurts, Inc. on January 10, 2009 and Sights and Sounds of the Silk Road, a program of music, dance and folk tales, was presented by The Silk Road Music and Dance Ensemble on February 14, 2009. On March 7, 2009 Celebrate Nowruz-Persian New Year included musical recitations of poetry, crafts and a traditional Haft Sīn table. Three films—Cave of the Yellow Dog, Gabbeh and The Wind Will Carry Us were presented as Nomadic Legacy—A Cinematic Journey on April 11, 2009. On May 9, 2009 a Nuno Felting Workshop, taught by textile artists Jean Degenfelder and Sarah Winston, took place and on June 13, 2009, Flavors of the Silk Road was an exploration of the traditional ingredients and culinary principles of Iran, Afghanistan and China.