Our winter 2016 edition of Nomads News includes articles on Berber life in the Atlas Mountains; Autumn Road Shows coming up; Izidor’s buying trip to Iran; details of Hamish Brown’s September talk; as well as Rufus Reade’s upcoming 2017 tours…
Click here for the PDF of our Summer 2016 newsletter.
2016 has been a busy year for the Nomads Tent including lots of firsts for us! January kicked off with a flurry of buying trips to far off lands. Our 4th annual symposium in February, that aspired to travel in the footsteps of the renowned Marco Polo, proved a great success thanks to the fascinating insights of our four esteemed speakers and a gripping foreword by Victoria Telford of Mercy Corps that underscored the reason for this event.
We are very grateful for the support given by our speakers and delegates and were delighted to raise over £2000 for such a vital cause. The symposium was swiftly followed by a well attended new event for us; Ashley Ramsden and Flora Pethybridge’s intimate conversational telling of T.S. Elliot’s Four Quartets in March and expertly catered by our very own Izidor Kresnik.
April was then soon upon us as we played host to independent publisher Tara Books for the Edinburgh book launch and film screening of ‘Between Memory and Museum’, a pioneering dialogue with 38 extraordinary folk and tribal artists from across India.
In the first weekend of June summer graciously favoured us with her presence as we opened for business at our first ever Meadows Festival, a great success and enjoyed by many! As you can tell the first half of the year has been busy for us; may it continue with such vibrancy!
Autumn Road Shows
Baldarroch, Murthly, Perthshire 14th – 23rd October
Rockfield House, Somerset 14th – 23rd October
Kincardine Castle, Aboyne, Aberdeenshire 28th October – 6th November
Westfield House, Elgin, Morayshire 18th – 27th November
For further details about road shows and to keep up-to-date with all of our events, please subscribe to our E-news.
Berber Life in The Atlas Mountains
We are thrilled to host this talk by our friend Hamish Brown on 15th September 2016 at 6pm.People who imagine Morocco as a country of desert kasbahs and camels will be astonished at the rich variety of scenery and culture in the Atlas Mountains where Hamish Brown has been exploring for fifty years.
Using the framework of a thousand mile, 96 day end-to-end trek of the Atlas, Hamish presents glimpses of the everyday lives of the Berbers, their rich culture, architecture, weekly souks and agricultural efforts, all in a tough, challenging world which is nevertheless extraordinarily beautiful. Hamish touches on the alpine flora, prehistoric rock art, the horrors of flash floods and much more, all with an enthusiasm and humour from his unique experience and obvious love of the Atlas and its people. Call or email to reserve a place. £6 payable on the night; proceeds go to Mercy Corps.
Our first intrepid voyager of 2016 was Izidor as he boarded a plane for Iran to source new rugs, carpets and kilims. Izidor’s wonderful selection of weavings include artisan rugs with unusual arts & crafts designs, tribal and contemporary kilims, large carpets, runners and gabbeh poshtis (miniature rugs). He can be seen pictured enjoying a meal with his local contacts in a traditional Persian restaurant in Tehran.
Alastair was next to embark on his journey; this time to the wondrous land that is India, in search of hand crafted furniture, textiles, jewellery and artefacts. He was delighted to have the honour of attending our jewellery supplier Payal’s wedding whilst he was there.
We were all saddened to hear of the death of her father Rajesh our primary jewellery contact, known to his friends as Netaji, after a battle with cancer. Doing business with Netaji was always more of a pleasure than work, and over the years he and his wife Rajni made us feel more a part of the family than mere clients. His passing will be a great loss to us all.
The containers from both Iran and India have completed their long journeys across land and sea to arrive in Edinburgh. Photo albums from both trips can be seen on our Facebook page.
Andrew and his wife Heidi, our resident photographer, went to Vietnam in March this year. Her stunning photographs of their trip will be on show when the shipment from Vietnam arrives, providing an insightful narrative to the hand crafted goods that were selected from source.
Elephant Footprints at Winton House
Scotland’s largest hand-woven carpet.
12.3 x 5.85m, circa 1850
The Indian carpet is believed to be the largest, single piece, hand-woven carpet in Scotland and is more than 160 years old, designed to fit neatly into Winton House‘s drawing room. According to Winton House family records the carpet was commissioned for the house by Lord and Lady Ruthven in the 1850s or as early as 1846. Andrew Haughton from The Nomads Tent describes the carpet as having “the beautiful colours, typical of Indian carpets of the period, especially the deep red and soft green.”
It has been suggested that the design of the carpet, described as ‘elephants foot’ by some, is similar to those used in some Indian screens (jali), popular in Mughal palaces, and also used in floor tiles. The carpet was most likely woven over 3 or 4 years, one metre of length taking one to two months.
There may have been 5 or 6 weavers working abreast on a huge loom the width of the carpet. It is understood that the finished carpet was shipped to Scotland and nearly disastrously lost en route during the Indian Mutiny of 1857-8 but somehow recovered.
It may well have been transported by the East India Company. The carpet was assumed to be from Agra, a famous source of carpets still, but is more likely from Machilipatnam* (also spelt Masulipatnam) a coastal port in north east India. It was around this time demand for carpets in the West soared and business boomed for weavers in India and Persia during a renaissance in carpet weaving.
The Nomads Tent was asked to repair the carpet with the objective of making it safe and usable for many more years. Andrew Haughton explains: “50 years of wear, some slightly cavalier use of nails to keep borders down and no doubt some grand parties had all taken their toll. There were areas of bare foundation several breaks and small holes.
The grit and dirt were removed by hoovering and surface cleaning. As repiling of the kind used to weave the carpet was not an option and the solution used in past restoration work appeared to work very well, we continued that process which involved over darning broken and worn areas, some re-knotting, sections of border repair and re-wrapping the entire ‘selvedge’ or side cords. After the restoration work was complete, fresh felt underlay was laid. The carpet was then laid out and stretched gently into place.”
*this origin was suggested by Michael Kennedy who, in 1987, mounted an exceptional of exhibition of great Indian carpets entitled ‘Jail Birds’ that included an example from the region, Machilipatnam. Many carpets produced at this time in India were woven in jails; hence that title.
Rufus Reade Tours 2017
- February/March: The Burma Road
- April/May: How to Capture a General: Crete in the Spring
- May/June: Russian Karelia: exploring north western Russia by train, by boat and by road
- September/October: Painting in Ethiopia with Eleanor White
All four tours will be led by Rufus Reade. Please contact Rufus Reade Tours to go on the mailing list, and to have immediate notification when each of these tours are open for booking.
0131 554 1078