Robert Chenciner MA (Cantab) is an independent writer based in London and co-author of Tattooed Mountain Women and Spoonboxes of Daghestan: Magic medicine symbols in silk, stone, wood and flesh (Bennett & Bloom 2006). Other books include: Embroidered Flowers from Thrace to Tartary, 1981 (with C. Marko); Architecture of Baku, 1985 (with E. Salmanov); Daghestan Today, 1989; Kaitag Textile Art of Daghestan, 1993; Daghestan: Tradition and Survival, 1997; Madder Red: A History of Luxury and Trade, 2000 Kaitag Daghestani Silk Embroidery, An Italian Collection, Ziya Bozoglu, 2007 (text including new material with folklorist David Hunt).
Mr Chenciner has been a Senior Associate Member St Antony’s College Oxford since 1987 and Hon Member Russian Academy of Sciences, Daghestan Scientific Centre since 1990.
The Russian love affair with the Caucasus has been long and cruel, though the outside world knows little of the multitude of ethnic groups who for millennia have inhabited this remote strip of land the size of France. In 2001, however, a remarkable catalogue was published. It reveals a unique collection of artefacts which for years have stood gathering dust in the vaults of a St Petersburg museum. Robert Chenciner examines the book and introduces a selection of its poignant photographs.