Newsletter April 2010

Next Meeting:

Style and Identity, People or Place:
The Case for Lakai Suzanis

Jeff Spurr

Thursday, April 22, 2010
Reception begins 6:30 PM. Program starts at 7:15PM

Emmet Eiland's Oriental Rug Company
1326 - 9th St. (just South of Gilman)
Berkeley. Tel: 510-526-1087

Among the great Central Asian textile traditions are the brilliant dowry embroideries (known as suzanis, meaning needlework) created in the cities and towns of what are now Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Forced relocation and urbanization have deeply impacted nomadic people in Central Asia, yet their cultural traditions have continued to evolve in these new environments. In this lecture, Jeff Spurr will explore how the style and cultural identity embedded in a striking group of suzanis are related to the well-known textiles of the rural Lakai Uzbek, some of whom were forced to resettle in urban centers in the 1870s. Our speaker writes:

"I have long puzzled over these dramatic textiles. Most of the arguments I make here have already been presented. Their import is that the suzanis in question were urban equivalents of the well-known small, embroidered trappings of the rural Lakai Uzbek, and that both classes were essentially informed by the same style and produced during the same period. I will emphasize the importance and tenacity of style in the representation of group identity, and attempt to explain what I mean by style in the Lakai context, and those characteristics manifestly linking the rural and urban manifestations of it. It is my task to make the case for an essential identity in design values, design characteristics, and spirit between the well-known small Lakai embroideries and these much larger urban pieces, while noting other common characteristis of materials and techniques employed. In this instance, it is striking that we are talking about groups of textiles, rural and urban, produced over the limited period ranging approximately from 1875 to 1925.

"I will also describe the politico-historical context of the emergence of this Lakai style, as we know it, which I will argue is a direct product of forced sedentarization of the Lakai initiated by the Emir of Bukhara in 1869 and fully accomplished over the course of the following decade. The economic implications of the Pax Russica will also be addressed as they pertain to the devolopment of characteristic materials employed by the Lakai in the production of their textiles."

About the Speaker

Jeff Spur is an independent scholar of Islamic textiles and rugs. In 26 years at Harvard University he developed and managed collections of historical photographs of the Middle East and Central Asia. His principal ongoing research project is on the impact of the Kashmir shawl in Persia. He has co-curated several exhibits at the Sackler Museum at Harvard, including "Color in the Oasis: Ikats of Central Asia," "Silver and Shawls," and the exhibit at ACOR 8 in Boston, "Unusual and Overlooked: Antique Textiles from Central Asia." Jeff has also contributed several articles to Hali Magazine including most recently, "Dress to Impress: Exemplary Central Asian Robes from Wolf Collections, Hali 159, Spring 2009

Important Request for April 22 lecture

It is essential that we line up in advance access to a MAC laptop. Jeff's talk will be a digital Mac powerpoint presentation. Jeff will need to use a MAC laptop in order to project his images. As SFBARS does not own a MAC laptop, we are asking for one of our members to please make one available to us. Jeff will only be bringing a "stick" which will be plugged into the laptop which in turn will plug into the Society's Toshiba digital projector. We would prefer someone in Berkeley so that Peter and Jeff can test the projecting in the afternoon before the lecture. Please contact Peter Poullada at sppoullada@sbcglobalnet or phone at 415-602-0709 by April 21st to allow for arrangements to be made. Thank you in advance for assistance.

Message from the Presendent

As many of you may have noticed, this past SFBARS season has been a year of stops and starts. We have had to skip some months and delay our plans for another silent auction and annual party. In part this has been due to some unexpected medical issues for your President. On the other hand SFBARS has carried off a number of interesting and well-attended programs in this past year, including those that coincided with the October ARTS rug gathering at the Capri Motel in San Francisco and the February Tribal Arts show. We gathered at Jim Dixon's Occidental home in October; in February we had an exciting show and tell on Uzbek and Kyrgyz weavings and also co-sponsered the Jones Memorial Lecture at the deYoung, followed by the well attended reception. In January we enjoyed a great lecture from Carol Bier on the suzanis in the Doris Duke museum in Honolulu for our annual get together with the Armenian Rug Society, a tradition that we intend to continue in 2011.

Although some of you may feel we have had too many events with a Central Asian theme, in part because that is your President's parochial interest, we did venture in the area of Sumatran textiles (in September) and Kurdish bags (in October). I would like to encourage events in other areas as well. Members with an interest or expertise in Navajo, Andean or Tibetan weavings who would be willing to talk to us should contact me.

For next year, the 2010-2011 season, we have already lined up events for November, January (again in conjuction with the Armenian Rug Society) and March. In conjunction with the ACOR travel grants for foreign visitors and with our sister organizations in Los Angeles and Seattle, Stefan Ionescu will talk to us in November about Anatolian carpets in Italy. Some of you may know Stefan from his scholarship and tours of Romanian Ottoman carpets. In January, the Istanbul based conservator Paul Hepworth will talk about the aesthetics of the Persian arden carpet. And in March 2011 the Austrian collector and scholar Peter Bichler will talk about Ottoman kilims. In addition we will be co-sponsoring once again the annual Caroline and McCoy Jones Memorial Lecture at the deYoung Museum.

I also would like to hold two social events, hopefully with the help of some volunteers from the Membership: the silent auction of donated materials and another "moth market" evening for members to show off and buy and sell their items.

In order to keep new ideas flowing to your Society, I would like to ask again for volunteers to join our Board who have the interest and commitment to help with programs, especially with meeting, greeting, hosting and helping to run the events involving visiting speakers from overseas.

Finally as I have mentioned in the past, i would like to pass the baton of President at the end of next year's programs (May 2011, before I leave for the Stockholm ICOC) to a new President who will take on the task of leading the Society for the next few years, with the committed assistance of our excellent activist board members. If there are members who have an interest in taking on the role of President, or in joining our Board, please contact Peter Poullada at the email address or telephone number listed below.

Thank you all for another helping to make 2009-2010 a successful year of programs and social events! Best wishes,

Peter Poullada,; tel. 415-602-0709

Sunday, June 20.
Save the Date!

This is the date Jim Dixon has reserved to invite SFBARS members to his home in Occidental to picnic, visit his gardens and view a selection of his amazing carpet collection. Watch for details on potluck arrangements and directions to his house.

Duke Collection

When Carol Bier spoke to us in January, she promised to provide certain references people asked about. here they are:

Doris Duke's Shangri La - is the site for the house itself with an option to Tour the Property, among many other options

Here is the database of the collection that is searchable on the web -

Information about Doris Duke the Collector -

Here is where you can download a PDF of the book "Doris Duke's Shangri La" by
Sharon Littlefield with an Introduction by Carol Bier -