Nomads in Anatolia - Their Life and Their Textiles:
Encounters with a Vanishing Culture

Lecture by
Harold Böhmer
September 7, 2008

Some pictures
click on the thumbnail for the full picture.

The lifestyles and textiles of the nomadic peoples of Anatolia evolved from a long historic tradition, beginning with the first immigration of the Turkmen tribes from Central Asia into the land mass of Asia Minor in the 14th century. These pastoral peoples, who bypassed earlier Kurdish nomads in the east, changed the farmland of the Byzantines into pastureland. They created a variety of woven objects for both daily and ceremonial use, including many kinds of portable housing, as well as trappings for the storage of their household possessions and bedding, and animals. In some areas, camel trains were a still a common sight in Turkey up through the late 20th century. For many years, Dr. Harald Böhmer, along with his colleague, ethnographer and photographer Josephine Powell, traveled with and studied these nomads, extensively collecting and photographing their textiles.

Dr. Böhmer’s talk, in conjunction with his book, “The Nomads of Anatolia,” covered specific tribes and gave an overview of their daily lives, their historic winter and summer migration routes and encampments, and the specific textiles that they wove, including kilims, saddle and storage bags, bands, and felts. He also discussed their current settled situations, and the future of nomadism in Anatolia.

A native of Germany, Dr. Harald Böhmer is a renowned international expert in natural dyes, and was instrumental in re-introducing and stimulating their use in the revival of naturally-dyed carpet production in the 1980’s in Turkey, and other carpet-producing countries. While teaching chemistry at the German high school in Istanbul, Dr. Böhmer became fascinated with the colors in antique carpets in local museums. He researched and tested organic dye sources, and working within the framework of the German National Development Service, since 1982 and as a guest lecturer at Marmara University in Istanbul, he became head of the Marmara Universitesi Laboratory for Natural Dyes, founder of the DOBAG natural dye carpet project, and General Adviser to the DOBAG project. He has presented many papers at specialist conferences, created videofilms on nomads in Turkey and natural dyes worldwide, and has written more than 30 articles and publications, including three books in English: "Rugs of the Nomads and Peasants in Anatolia" (in cooperation with Werner Brüggemann), 1982; "KOEKBOYA - Natural Dyes and Textiles - A Colour Journey from Turkey to India and Beyond," (in cooperation with Nevin Enez, Recep Karadag and Charllotte Kwon), 2002; and "Nomads in Anatolia - their Life and their Textiles - Encounters with a Vanishing Culture” (in cooperation with Josephine Powell and Serife Atlihan), 2008. Dr. Böhmer invites members of the International Hajji Baba Society to bring examples of natural-dyed nomadic Turkish kilims, carpets, trappings and textiles for show & tell.

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