For millennia, nomads have wandered across the steppes and oases of Eurasia in search of pasture for their herds and traveled along the famed trading route, the “Silk Road,” which stretched from China to the Mediterranean. Bold Abstractions: Textiles from Central Asia & Iran presents mementos of this nomadic culture in a dazzling display of mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth-century traditional garments, personal adornment, and domestic accessories. A feast for the eyes, this exhibition includes brilliantly-hued Uzbek ikat-dyed robes and exquisitely embroidered Turkmen mantles. Boldly conceived Kyrgyz felted tent trappings contrasted in texture and technique with smaller-scale Persian masterpieces in the form of woven pile carpets that once faced animal pack bags. Silver-gilt, nielloed, and gem-inlaid ornaments in their original context were beautiful signifiers of gender, age, and clan identity. Throughout the exhibition visitors can delight in bold designs in the form of highly stylized animal, vegetal, and cosmological symbols. With origins in some ancient, unwritten compendium, these motifs allude to abundance and well-being, basic desires of all peoples past and present.
This exhibition originated at the Mingei International Museum and was curated at both the Mingei and CAFAM by Rochelle Kessler.