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Indian Tents “Matters of Silk and Velvet”

5th DECEMBER 2018 at 7pm

A talk by Dr Peter Andrews

From the time of the Delhi Sultanate, if not earlier, the tents used by Indian rulers were a matter of great prestige, as representing their presence before the public. They were used at court to shelter not only the sovereign, but those attending him in huge numbers, and palace buildings were planned ab initio for extension with tentage over the courtyards. The increasing size of royal domains, too, made it essential, in an age of poor communications, for the ruler to tour them extensively, and the camp acquired an additional purpose, besides the obvious military one, of a temporary palace from which justice could be administered.

Peter Andrews, M.A. (Cantab), Ph.D. (Lond) wrote his Ph.D. thesis for SOAS (London) on the history of tents in the Middle East, Hindustan and Central Asia. He first studied architecture in India in 1960. From 1966 he conducted extensive fieldwork on nomad tents in Morocco, Turkey, Iran, Qatar, Mongolia and Qırgızstan, and on urban tents in museums throughout Europe and India, besides surveying a village in Northern Areas, Pakistan. In 2006 he was made an honorary research fellow at the University of Bristol (Anthropology).

He has published Türkmen Needlework, London 1976; Ethnic Groups in the Republic of Turkey, Wiesbaden 1989 (vol.2, 2002); Nomad Tent types in the Middle East, 2 vols. Wiesbaden '97; Felt Tents and Pavilions: the Nomadic Tradition and its Interaction with Princely Tentage, 2 vols., London 1999; Sazin, a Fortified Village in Indus-Kohistan, Mainz, 2000; and Tentage at the Calico Museum and its Patterns, Ahmedabad, 2015; and a chapter on the Lal Dera tent in the catalogue Peacock in the Desert, the royal arts of Jodhpur for the Museum of Fine arts, Houston, 2018. He has published more than 60 academic articles, including recent monographs on the Hubyar Alevi of Turkey, and three maps. He has made seven museum collections including The Turcoman of Iran, 1971. He was a founder member of the Carpet Circle at SOAS, and served on the International Academic Committee for the International Conference on Oriental Carpets from 1982.


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