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Jon Thomson,Oriental Carpet Scholar, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (retired)

Weaving among the Turkmen was a memory-based skill. As with language and folk music, it can be demonstrated that patterns transmitted from person to person by memory can remain relatively stable throughout many centuries.  Like language also, the vocabulary of ornament is enriched from time to time with loan motifs, which undergo a slow transformation. This presentation examines several Turkmen motifs in detail. It will discuss their various sources, the transformations they have undergone, and in some cases their remarkable antiquity. It also mentions some of the pitfalls in this kind of art historical enquiry. 

Dr. Jon Thompson is one of the foremost scholars in the field of Oriental carpets. He co-curated an exhibition which was highly influential in the recognition and appreciation of Turkmen rugs, and textiles, and generated collecting interests in this area that still exist today. He held the position of May Beattie Fellow in Carpet Studies at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology and the Khalili Research Centre, at the University of Oxford in the UK, until his recent retirement.  In addition to creating a database of images, his work also involved teaching courses on carpets and textiles of the Islamic world at Oxford University and at the British Museum.  Dr. Thompson continues to teach in London at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and at the Victoria & Albert Museum. In 2008 Thompson was the guest curator of an exhibition celebrating the 75th anniversary of the New York-based Hajji Baba Club.  The exhibition was on view at the New York Historical Society and at The Textile Museum on October 18, 2008, and was accompanied by a beautifully illustrated catalogue, Timbuktu to Tibet; Exotic Rugs and Textiles from New York Collectors, also written by Dr. Thompson.  Dr, Thompson was chosen as the 2008 recipient of the Textile Museum’s George Hewitt Myers Award, the highest honor given in the field of textile arts, and recognizes his lifetime achievement and exceptional contributions to the study and understanding of the textile arts

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