TurkoTek Discussion Boards

Subject  :  Jerry's Suggestion
Author  :  R. John Howe mailto:%20rjhowe@erols.com
Date  :  09-17-2001 on 09:41 p.m.
Dear folks -

In his introductory essay, Jerry makes a specific suggestion about something that should be pursued.

He wrote in part:

"...Id like to suggest that 18th and 19th century travel literature be thoroughly surveyed to learn if there are more on-the-scene observations about the techniques of weaving and uses of rugs. There is a great wealth of such literature..."

My thoughts:

I think this is a good idea.

A few years ago, Dick Wright organized a Turkmen workshop at our rug club and presented a variety of materials he had collected in the 19th century travel literature. So I know of at least one instance in which Jerry's advice has been taken with a degree of success.

I am, in fact, myself attracted to this kind of thing and have, in an admittedly, fairly disultory way, attempted to locate and read some items of 18th and 19th century travel literature on Turkmen territory.

Jerry works with rug books more than I do, but I have found his advice harder to take than his suggestion would make it seem.

Now I have my reprint copy of the two volumes by Huc and Gabet that is mid-19th century but I just went to my shelves and pulled off what I have and there's hardly a 19th century tome among them, much less and 18th century one.

Here's what I have:

Schuyler, Eugene, "Turkistan" an excellent study of the 1870's.

Haslund, Henning, "Tents in Mongolia, 1934 but about a period of travel that began about 1917.

Huntington, Ellsworth, "The Pulse of Asia," a racist book posing as social science, published in 1907 about travel that began early in the 1900's. Quite a lot on the Khirgiz.

Lewis, Roy Chapman, "Across Mongolian Plains," published in 1921 about trips in 1916-17.

Pumpelly, Raphael, "Reminiscences, Two Volumes" published in 1921 about a wonderful career that took him all over the world but importantly into Turkestan in the 1903-05 period. There is a technical geological work of his as well on Turkestan, if you have $600.

Knox, Thomas W. "Overland Through Asia," published 1871 about travel perhaps 14 years earlier. Unfortunately, Knox went a little further north than our rug interests extend. He talks of China but reached it by way of Siberia and his tent dwellers are well north of Turkestan.

Now that's it, so far (I've left out some later 20th century volumes). There are a couple of things to note about the books I have. They took awhile to assemble and most of them say precious little about either the people or the rugs. Several of them have bibliographies and I'm sure if one systematically pursued these, the selections would be extended and refined but I think Jerry's suggestion is full of digging and lots of hard work. And the more serious student will need to bring lots of money, for these books are often not cheap.

Jerry's idea is a good one but more difficult to implement than one might expect.


R. John Howe

Subject  :  Re:Jerry's Suggestion
Author  :  Steve Price mailto:%20sprice@hsc.vcu.edu
Date  :  09-17-2001 on 09:57 p.m.
Hi John,

I must have missed the part where Jerry said it would be easy.

Steve Price

Subject  :  Re:Jerry's Suggestion
Author  :  R. John Howe mailto:%20rjhowe@erols.com
Date  :  09-18-2001 on 06:37 a.m.
Hi Steve -

No, Jerry did not say it would be easy, nor is my post a real critique of his suggestion.

He did write a sentence that might be seen to suggest that such things are fairly readily found. He said:

"...There is a great wealth of such literature. It was very popular at the time. It would be surprising if there were as few references to rugs as are now known..."

This is likely true but the "great wealth" is not as acessible as that expression might suggest and, in my admittedly limited experience, many such books, when found, are interesting in ethnographic terms but basically dry holes with regard to the rugs.

Still, that, should not be taken as an argument for not looking for and at them. Only that you are not likely to stumble on the this "great wealth" quickly and easily.


R. John Howe

Subject  :  Re:Jerry's Suggestion
Author  :  Marvin Amstey mailto:%20mamstey1@rochester.rr.com
Date  :  09-18-2001 on 08:08 a.m.
Check with Jim Allen. I think he knows this literature. Regards, Marvin

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