FELT TENTS AND PAVILIONS
The Nomadic Tradition and its Interaction with Princely Tentage
Peter Alford Andrews
Koelner Ethnologische Mitteilungen: Sonderband
eds. Ulla Johansen and Thomas Schweizer
This is the first historical study
of the Central Asian felt tent based on indigenous texts and visual
records: the sources, from the eighth century to the eighteenth,
are interpreted through the experience gained in the author's extensive
fieldwork. The author shows how the dwelling, at the centre of nomadic
life, is much more than a physical structure, carrying a complex
of associations with social practice, use of space, images and symbolism,
which by defining it have helped to perpetuate the type. Analysis
of the variants reveals a remarkable congruence of design, which
allows a common origin to be traced.
New nomadic dynasties tended to adopt the more urban tradition of
tentage familiar to their sedentary subjects. This served not only
for military purposes, but had, since the Achaemenids, been used
as an expression of power and prestige in terms of great size and
height, rich materials, and novelty of form. Different as these
criteria were from the more practically based nomad traditions,
they drew on a common symbolic basis which facilitated the exchange,
t he more so as gifts of tentage were important expressions of respect.
Typically, urban criteria came to supplant nomadic values and types.
Similar developments occurred in the organisation of the camps so
necessary for the administration of large territories.
These developments are traced in records from the early Turkish,
Khitan, Mongol, Timurid, and Moghul periods, which are particularly
rich in material. Primary sources in Turkish, Mongolian, Persian
and Arabic are augmented with European descriptions of the same
period. For the earliest stages of steppe nomadism, classical texts
and Chinese accounts are used. Dr Andrews supplements his descriptive
texts and visual sources with a minute investigation of the tent
vocabularies, to arrive at a marriage of word, thing and idea. The
publication is funded by the J Paul Getty Trust. It should appeal
not only to those studying Central Asian and Middle Eastern history,
but to architects, ethnologists, art historians, and textile specialists.
Opinions on this work before publication:
'Its scholarship is outstanding ...
monumental in its wealth of detail and its dogged mining of all
possible sources.' An independent reviewer for publication.
'Nothing short of magisterial ...
a triumphant conclusion. His work on Islamic sources is marked by
the utmost care and precision, and his reading - as the text testifies
abundantly - has been prodigious and omnivorous.' Prof R Hillenbrand,
University of Edinburgh
'An outstanding work of scholarship,
of permanent value and wide inter est. There is no other work like
it, either in comprehensiveness of coverage, originality or scholarly
detail. It is unlikely ever to be superseded; works on the topic
that come after will be mere footnotes to Dr Andrews.' Prof R L
Tapper, SOAS., University of London
'The author has worked through an
enormous amount of material, giving minute attention to the slightest
facts ... this study gives information not only on construction,
but also on economy, customs, emblems of rank and so on in an inexhaustible
way. It is a pleasure to read this work on what appears to be a
modest topic, which actually provides us with knowledge on a great
variety of life over hundreds of years ... This book has really
developed into a kind of cultural history. The author has displayed
extraordinary intelligence and accuracy in the interpretation of
old sources and modern facts. In some ideal way, he has combined
a discourse on word and thing to reflect the reality of life.' Prof
Dr A von Gabain, University of Hamburg.
Format: 248 x 171mm, 2 volumes: 862 pages per volume,
252 illustrations, 5 vignettes,
20 maps, 17 drawings, 16 pp colour, hardback
Published in association with the University of Cologne
ISBN 1 901764 05 2