FOR TENT AND TRADE: MASTERPIECES OF TURKMEN WEAVING AT THE DE YOUNG MUSEUM
December 15, 2007–April 27, 2008
San Francisco, October 2007– The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco present a selection of premier examples from their world-class holdings of Turkmen rugs and textiles in For Tent and Trade: Masterpieces of Turkmen Weaving at the de Young Museum December 15, 2007, through April 27, 2008. During the past twenty-five years, FAMSF has developed the finest public collection of Turkmen carpets and other pile textiles outside Russia. This exhibition includes approximately 40 of the finest rugs, bags, and tent and animal trappings from these extensive holdings.
“Carpets and other pile textiles woven by the nomadic and semi-nomadic Turkmen tribes of Central Asia are some of the most widely admired and passionately collected of all ‘oriental’ rugs,” says Diane Mott, curator of the exhibition. “They are also among the most challenging to study and understand.” This exhibition provides an overview of Turkmen pile weaving and addresses some of the unanswered questions surrounding Turkmen carpets in addition to new findings that are changing our understanding of this complex weaving tradition.
The textiles included in For Tent and Trade come from the plains, oases, and low hills of Turkmenistan, northwest Iran, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan. Many are woven from the superb wool of Saryja sheep, which are bred solely in this region. This exhibition provides the opportunity to contrast objects traditionally woven for a woman’s dowry or domestic use with those made for the market or a prosperous city dweller.
In spite of the fact that most of the weaving is done outside on simple horizontal looms staked to the ground, the work of the Turkmen is of consummate skill, artistic expression, and design. Although theirs is a region marked by centuries of political instability, carpet weaving endures as a vital part of the Turkmen culture.
Diane Mott, Curator of the Caroline and H. McCoy Jones Department of Textile Arts, is the curator of this exhibition. She has been the curator of a number of exhibitions at the de Young on subjects ranging from the post-conquest textiles of the Andean highlands to silk ikats from Central Asia, and most recently, the Quilts of Gee’s Bend.