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"Fez & Kilim:

A History of Trade Between the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires"
Peter Bichler

Independent Textile Scholar,
Vienna, Austria

Research into the history of trade reveals new and surprising data on commodities like the fez and kilim as trade items. At the beginning of the 19th century, production of the fez in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire dominated the world market, and 90% of the fez imported by the Ottoman Empire came from Austria and Bohemia. The rising European middle classes of the 19th century took a vivid interest in the Orient, which led to a defined “oriental theme” at the World Exhibition in Vienna in 1873.  For the first time kilims were recognized as commodities. Peter Bichler’s talk will demonstrate that the historical sales records define the type of Anatolian kilim produced in the second half of the 19th century, and will be illustrated with vintage photos of how kilims were used to decorate the fashionable salons and studios of Europe, as “Kilimania” and Orientalist décor took hold.

Peter Bichler was born in Austria, and was educated at the Höhere technische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt für Textilindustrie, Dornbirn and Danube University, Krems/Austria. He is currently the director of House of Scotland (Austria), a chain of retail stores in Vienna, St. Pölten and Krems. In 1982 Peter was a founding member of the Austrian Society for Textile-Art-Research and has served since 1998 as President of the Society. Over the past years he has organized a large number of symposia and international conferences on ethnographic textile arts and oriental carpets, and published several papers. During the preparation of the 5th ICOC in Vienna/Budapest he was a member of the Academic Committee of the conference. Peter is also a contributing editor for HALI, London and the past seven years has been a member of the ICOC Executive Committee; he is presently acting chair of the International Committee of the ICOC. Peter invites members of TMA/SC to bring examples of kilims (or a fez) for show & tell.


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