Unravelling the Silk Road: A Textile Journey: a talk by Chris Aslan
14th JULY 2020 at 5pm
Wool, cotton and silk have each played a crucial role in the fortunes of Central Asia. Wool created the clothing and housing needed by the great nomadic cultures that were to dominate Middle Asia. Silk was more valuable than gold and used as currency, creating a network of trading routes that led to the first outbreak of globalisation. Cotton was the cause of Russian and then Soviet Colonisation and continues to cause controversy today as well as human misery and environmental catastrophe The felts, carpets, embroideries, robes and veils of the Silk Road stratified wealth, displayed religious and political entrenchments and changed the fortunes of this fascinating part of the world; a meeting place between Mohammed and Marx.
Chris was born in Turkey (hence his middle name) and spent his childhood there and in war-torn Beirut. After school, Chris spent two years at sea before studying Media and journalism at Leicester University. He then moved to Khiva, a desert oasis in Uzbekistan, establishing a UNESCO workshop reviving fifteenth century carpet designs and embroideries, and becoming the largest non-government employer in town. After a year in the UK writing A Carpet Ride to Khiva, he moved to the Pamirs in Tajikistan, training yak herders to comb their yaks for their cashmere-like down, spending three years there. Next came two years in Kyrgyzstan living in the world’s largest natural walnut forest and establishing a wood-carving workshop. Chris has recently finished rowing and studying at Oxford and survived his curacy at St. Barnabas in North Finchley, but is now taking two years out to focus on writing fiction, with several novels published and more on the way. He also lectures for the Art Society and leads tours to Central Asia to pay the bills. He is missing a large chunk of his heart which will forever remain in the -stans.