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Across Central Asia


Dr.  Stephanie Bunn

Researcher, Author and Senior Lecturer,

University of St Andrews

Fife, Scotland

Central Asian and Mongolian herders have made felt textiles for several thousand years, developing a great range of skills for use in felt production, and a diversity of uses for this ubiquitous nomadic textile. Kyrgyz, Kazakh, Turkmen, Uyghur, and Uzbek felts all have their own unique characteristics, patterns, colours and techniques. Mongolian felts, in contrast, are almost entirely monochrome, relying upon quilting to create a textured effect. Afghan felt shows incredible diversity, reflecting this country’s complex history of migration from the Near and Far East, and the North. This lecture will discuss how each group’s unique and characteristic felt-making techniques and felt patterns are related. The link between pattern, belief and aesthetics will be explored, and the synthesis between the older Central Asian world view and that inspired by Islam will also be discussed in regard to its expression on felt carpets.

Dr Stephanie Bunn is a Senior Lecturer in the Social Anthropology of Eurasia and Material Culture at the University of St Andrews. She is also curator of the University’s Ethnographic and Amerindian collections. She has been carrying out research into Central Asian felt textiles since 1989, and has conducted field research among high mountain pastoralists in Kyrgyzstan between 1994 and 1997, and again in 2002, 2003 and 2011. Dr Bunn has also made collections of felt textiles for the British Museum, the Horniman Museum, and the National Museum of Scotland.  She collected and curated the British Museum exhibition Striking Tents and the Collins Gallery exhibition From Quilts to Couture. Her recent book, Nomadic Felts, published by the British Museum Press, covers the legacy of nomadic felt-making from Eastern Europe across Central Asia as far east as Japan. She has also edited the volume Kyrgyzstan on Kyrgyz costume and the work of ethnographer Klavdiya Antipina. She is currently writing a volume on Kyrgyz felt textiles, nomadic beliefs and practices, and doing new research into Scottish vernacular basketry.  Dr. Bunn invites TMA/SC members to bring examples of Central Asian and Mongolian felts.



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