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A Migration of Tents

Evolution and diffusion of nomadic tent types across Central Asia

November 14, 2019
Thursday at 6pm
Tickets from Eventbrite
Adults £11.37, Students £5.98

Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI), 50 Fitzroy Street, London W1T 5BT


A lecture by Peter Andrews.

The arrival of nomadic Turks in Anatolia was dependent in part on the dwelling they developed, which allowed them to cross the whole length of Central Asia from their heartland in the Altay. How this dwelling, the felt tent, developed and was disseminated, is therefore significant.

The earlier evidence for its appearance has to be assembled carefully from a few reliable texts, and the rather rare pictorial evidence, from the Sogdian period onwards, that has survived, but this can be augmented by inference backwards from present survivals, now far apart but once united by a common tradition. The present divergence in tent forms among Turkic and Mongolian nomads, and in their material culture generally, result from distinct cultural impulses that arose separately, and continued, to combine here and there, but often to retain their identity. The differences between Türkmen, Noğay, Qazaq, Qaraqalpaq, Özbek, and Qırgız tent forms, with their varying decorative schemes, on the one hand, and the Mongolian forms on the other, can then be related to the historical interaction, or lack of it, between these peoples. An idea of the original Türkmen form can be inferred from comparison of the tents in Anatolia, Azerbaijan and Qarabağ, and Khurasan.


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