May 17, 2015
Tents and Furnishing of the Nomads of Central Asia
talk by Richard Isaacson
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The nomadic trellis tent has made life possible across the steppes of Central Asia for several millennia. The multipurpose utilitarian weavings used to furnish it are widely admired as works of art in the west, but were based on the necessities of the now largely vanished nomadic lifestyle. This talk will discuss the history and construction of the tent, and illustrate the weavings used as utilitarian furnishings of the nomads from many ethnic groups, including Karakalpaks, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Turkmen, and Uzbeks.
Richard Isaacson attended Columbia and Stanford Universities before receiving his PhD in Theoretical Physics from the University of Maryland. He taught at Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, then moved to the U.S. National Science Foundation in Washington, DC where he served as the Program Director for Gravitational Physics. He simultaneously pursued a strong interest in art and oriental carpets. Since his retirement from government in 2002, carpets have become his primary interest, and physics has been his hobby.
He has been active at the Textile Museum in Washington, DC, lecturing frequently and serving as a member of the Textile Museum Advisory Council. He was Guest Curator for the exhibition Architectural Textiles: Tent Bands of Central Asia, at The Textile Museum, Washington, DC, (March 30, 2007 -- August 19, 2007). He was previously a Guest Curator for the exhibition From the Amu Darya to the Potomac: Central Asian Bags from Area Collections (Sept 7, 2001--Feb 24, 2002).
He was a member of Local Organizing Committee for the 10th International Conference on Oriental Carpets (2003), Washington, DC. He also served as the Exhibition Project Manager for the ICOC show Treasures from the Museums of Uzbekistan, held at the Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Washington, DC.
He has published in Oriental Rug Review, HALI and Steppe magazines, and has written the exhibition catalogue Architectural Textiles: Tent Bands of Central Asia. His latest publication is of two articles in the portfolio Sketches From the Steppes of Central Asia.
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