Tent & Textiles of Central Asia & Iran 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 exhibition was curated by Rochelle Kessler.
The magnificent Kyrgyz yurt, a round, domed, trellis-tent dwelling, 22 feet in diameter, won first prize in a national contest, celebrating the 1000th anniversary of Kyrgyzstan’s existence. Five years in design and construction, it boasted 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, was seen in the yurt’s intricately patterned, colorful rugs. Braided tassels also contributed 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, head of the family that 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. 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.