Four Yurt tapestries you'll want to see

Have you ever wanted to curate your own art gallery or exhibit? Anthropology student and artist Angeline Nesbit has by curating the “Song of Silence” gallery in the EWU Downtown Student Gallery, displaying tapestries that once hung in yurts across Kyrgyzstan.

What are yurts?

Yurts are large hide buildings held up by wooden poles. They aren’t as pack able as tents, but are sturdier. Basically, a yurt is a house that can be torn down and put up somewhere else. Central Asia has extreme weather, so nomads keep moving with their flock.

Why these tapestries?

I was able to talk with Angeline about the tapestries and I learned a lot about tapestry creation and designs. She said that “I also have a background in weaving and more traditional craft like quilting, knitting, all that kind of stuff, so I have an interest in textiles.”

Angeline picked eleven tapestries from over a hundred to display, and her choices show that she carefully studied the tapestries to find variety in technique and color use.

The tapestries themselves range from 19th century (really old for a fabric) pieces to more recent works that give insight into the Soviet control of Kyrgyzstan in the 1950s. Designs range from simple mandalas (circular flower shapes) to the large Soviet star and symbols.

Let’s take a look!

rectangular tapestry, top and sides embroidered with intricate designs

This tapestry is a great example of a finished tapestry. It’s about five to six feet tall and ten feet wide and has all three sides and two triangular pieces attached. Most of the tapestries depicted in the gallery were incomplete, missing either the middle piece, or one or more of the sides. They took up to ten years to make so it’s not surprising to find incomplete ones!

corner of tapestry made in 1800s

This piece was made in the late 1800s and shows off the different fabric used at the time. Red was one of the rarest and most valued colors, but as time went on, red dye became more available.

top or side pieces of incomplete tapestry

This appears to be a side piece and a top piece. Nothing new to add, I just think they look cool!

small triangle piece of tapestry

This is one of the triangle pieces that either detached from the main tapestry or was never attached to a completed piece. The birds and the intricate flowers here look really complex. Whoever made this tapestry went through the trouble of stitching the bird wings in a shape that separate them from the body of the bird. Although the fabric is faded, you can kind of see the different colors used in this tapestry.

small tapestry about 1.5 X 2.5 feet

I did say four images but I really like this one too. I’m not sure where this panel fits in a tapestry, it may be part of a side piece or it might be a complete piece.

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