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Felts of Northern Eurasia”


Dr. Elena Tsareva, St. Petersburg

Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) of the Russian Academy of Sciences

 Felted textiles, which are made by matting loose, combed wool fibers together by a special technique, developed as a tradition throughout many nomadic pastoral cultures in northern Eurasia and Central Asia. Huge, sophisticated pictorial felts were discovered buried in the kurgans (tomb mounds) in Siberia, along with the Pazyryk Carpet, the first known pile carpet, from 500 B.C. This talk by Dr. Elena Tsareva will present a broad picture of the art of felting since the earliest-known archaeological evidence. Dr. Tsareva will trace the formation of the four main lines of matted textiles’ ornamentation, describing the Anatolian-Iranian, Pazyryk, Hsiung-nu and European felt-making traditions, and giving reasons for the suggested divisions and diversions. She will also introduce several of the bright “side” branches of felting, as well as mixed variations, of which many exist up to the present day.

Dr. Elena Tsareva is a world-renowned specialist in the field of archaeological and ethnographic textiles, and an expert on the topic of carpet weaving of the peoples of Northern Eurasia. A graduate of the Oriental Faculty of the Leningrad State University, she now works in the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Dr. Tsareva has been a participant of the ICOC (International Conference on Oriental Carpets) since 1976, and a member and organizer of numerous other conferences on textiles and costume, as well as of exhibitions and expeditions. Since 1984 she has been a contributing editor of HALI magazine, and author of more than one hundred publications. Her latest book, “Turkmen Carpets. The Hoffmeister Collection,” was named by the NY Times as one of the five best books ‘on antiques’ published during 2011. The Near Eastern Art Research Center recently announced that Dr. Tsareva will be the 2012 recipient of the Joseph V. McMullan Award for Stewardship and Scholarship in Islamic Rugs and Textiles.


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