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Felt Tents and Pavilions: Two volume set Hardcover – 18 May 1999

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 1632 pages
  • Publisher: Melisende UK Ltd (18 May 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1901764052
  • ISBN-13: 978-1901764055
  • Product Dimensions: 25.2 x 18.4 x 10 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,296,556 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
A superb book yet again from Peter Alford Andrews. A lifes work has gone into his two books and it shows. The wealth of detail is simply staggering. This is not a coffee table book but a serious study on tentage. I could wax lyrical but far better for you to get the book and enjoy that and not my ramblings. If you have an interest in tented architecture this book is a must have!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8c2f8af8) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c25c510) out of 5 stars History of Asian Tents 16 Feb. 2005
By Dr. Hedda Reindl-kiel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Peter Alford Andrews, Felt Tents and Pavilions: The Nomadic Tradition and its Interaction with Princely Tentage. 2 vols. (= Koelner Ethnologische Mitteilungen, Sonderband),

These two monumental volumes seem at first glance "only" to be a work on nomadic and princely tents of Central Asia and beyond, but on closer inspection they amount to a comprehensive encyclopaedia of the tentage of the region, including Iran and the Mughals, dealing with almost every historical and cultural aspect of a fascinating topic.

The reader learns in the General Introduction that "the concept of the structure is more important than the perishable material in which it is realised". Nevertheless, a normal nomad tent frame lasts "for up to 50 years" (p. 550), which, by the way, is 10-20 years longer than the life of a normal mud brick building, until recently the prevailing house type in rural Anatolia. Princely tents seem to have an even longer life-span, including, at least in some cases, their vulnerable (but well-kept and meticulously repaired) cover, as shown by the example of a gigantic Mughal dal-bâdal, which dazzled spectators in 1745, more than a century after it was first built.

Peter Andrews' book is built up strictly chronologically, starting with the covered carts used as dwellings in the Ukrainian Steppe in the fourth millennium B.C., going into the findings of several kurgans, dealing with Scythians and Sarmatians, then with the tentage of ethnic groups one might call proto-Turkic, that of the early Turks, the Mongols (comprehensively), Timur and the Timurids. Volume II is devoted to the Mughal tentage, finally closing with the 19th century. Thus, the sequence of chapters follows a historical order in combination with ethnical or tribal correlations. All sections can be read and used independently. This is, however, not the only convenience: the reader finds in every chapter on the tentage of a specific ethnic or political group not only a map of the geographical setting but also a detailed discussion of all available sources, mostly with extensive quotes in translation (often by the author himself, whose tremendous command of languages is indeed extraordinary). Extremely useful are 19 drawings (by Mügül Andrews and A.J.P. Jansz), most of them illustrations in the text, which thanks to their accuracy are a big help in visualising certain features.

The physical structure of this type of tentage is only one aspect. A whole cluster of correlations with every facet of nomadic life is analysed in this work as well. Hence, the book offers essential insights for anyone interested in life style, use of space and social practices of Central Asian nomads.

The approach of the first two chapters is rather broad, due to the scarcity of source material. Nevertheless, the reader will be amazed to learn about the existence of any sources for the early groups treated there. In this context it should be mentioned that no evidence could be found that trellis tents were used before the 8th century AD.

In the following chapters of the work the treatment becomes increasingly more specific, as sources flow more bountifully and allow the author to interrelate between tribal nomadic traditions and "urban", princely practices. In the latter dwellings, foreign influences could be highly significant, such as Chinese elements at the court tents of the Khitan (pp. 237-239).

A substantial part of volume I is dedicated to diverse aspects of Mongolian tentage and the available sources. One of this chapter's focuses refers to the question of the Mongolian trellis tent's origin. There is namely no evidence for the existence of trellis tents under Chinggiz Qan; it first appears in a Chinese report of 1236. Evaluating sources and linguistic clues, the author suggests that the emergence of the Mongolian trellis tent can be explained "by the fusion of a pre-existing Mongolian felt tent [....] and the Turkic form" (p. 459). Hence, and this is one of the book's main propositions, the origin of the trellis tent is Turkish.

The splendour and extravagance of Tamerlane's tents was impressive enough to leave detailed contemporary descriptions, which give us a rather clear picture. As Timur's and the Timurid's cultural charisma was to have a great impact on developments and fashions of Islamic art in the whole Middle East, the reader will be especially grateful for many details in this section, described with meticulous methodological accuracy.

In volume II the main section (in total 439 pages) is dedicated to the tent culture of the Mughals, which seems to be not only the best documented, but presumably also the most elaborate tentage of all three contemporary great Muslim empires. One might think that this was just a perpetuation of a specific part of Timurid culture, but there is evidence that "the contrasting imagery of nomad and princely tents already existed before the Mughals arrived". Thus, an intense blend of different traditions can be noted in India, where for a lengthy span of time the princely trellis tent was in use at court for rites of passage.

Striking in Mughal tent culture is the tendency for tentage to be integrated into architecture. It seems that here Timurid habits and the long-established Indian tradition of portable wooden pavilions merged. The eclecticism prevailing in other branches of Mughal art is, of course, alive in tentage as well: Central Asian and native forms, materials from the home market, from Europe, the Ottoman Empire, China appear in varied combinations.

The two volumes of this work show clearly how eminently rewarding the study of material culture and its objects can be - if carried out, as here, with subtle methodology, sense for details and painstaking accuracy. A book like Peter Andrews' Felt Tents and Pavilions that answers questions of nomadic and princely life-style, economy, aesthetics and political self-representation by studying with a broad approach one branch of "things" can only be welcomed as an enormous gain for the world of learning.

Hedda Reindl-Kiel

University of Bonn
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c032288) out of 5 stars History of Asian Tents 16 Feb. 2005
By Dr. Hedda Reindl-kiel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Peter Alford Andrews, Felt Tents and Pavilions: The Nomadic Tradition and its Interaction with Princely Tentage. 2 vols. (= Koelner Ethnologische Mitteilungen, Sonderband),

These two monumental volumes seem at first glance "only" to be a work on nomadic and princely tents of Central Asia and beyond, but on closer inspection they amount to a comprehensive encyclopaedia of the tentage of the region, including Iran and the Mughals, dealing with almost every historical and cultural aspect of a fascinating topic.

The reader learns in the General Introduction that "the concept of the structure is more important than the perishable material in which it is realised". Nevertheless, a normal nomad tent frame lasts "for up to 50 years" (p. 550), which, by the way, is 10-20 years longer than the life of a normal mud brick building, until recently the prevailing house type in rural Anatolia. Princely tents seem to have an even longer life-span, including, at least in some cases, their vulnerable (but well-kept and meticulously repaired) cover, as shown by the example of a gigantic Mughal dal-bâdal, which dazzled spectators in 1745, more than a century after it was first built.

Peter Andrews' book is built up strictly chronologically, starting with the covered carts used as dwellings in the Ukrainian Steppe in the fourth millennium B.C., going into the findings of several kurgans, dealing with Scythians and Sarmatians, then with the tentage of ethnic groups one might call proto-Turkic, that of the early Turks, the Mongols (comprehensively), Timur and the Timurids. Volume II is devoted to the Mughal tentage, finally closing with the 19th century. Thus, the sequence of chapters follows a historical order in combination with ethnical or tribal correlations. All sections can be read and used independently. This is, however, not the only convenience: the reader finds in every chapter on the tentage of a specific ethnic or political group not only a map of the geographical setting but also a detailed discussion of all available sources, mostly with extensive quotes in translation (often by the author himself, whose tremendous command of languages is indeed extraordinary). Extremely useful are 19 drawings (by Mügül Andrews and A.J.P. Jansz), most of them illustrations in the text, which thanks to their accuracy are a big help in visualising certain features.

The physical structure of this type of tentage is only one aspect. A whole cluster of correlations with every facet of nomadic life is analysed in this work as well. Hence, the book offers essential insights for anyone interested in life style, use of space and social practices of Central Asian nomads.

The approach of the first two chapters is rather broad, due to the scarcity of source material. Nevertheless, the reader will be amazed to learn about the existence of any sources for the early groups treated there. In this context it should be mentioned that no evidence could be found that trellis tents were used before the 8th century AD.

In the following chapters of the work the treatment becomes increasingly more specific, as sources flow more bountifully and allow the author to interrelate between tribal nomadic traditions and "urban", princely practices. In the latter dwellings, foreign influences could be highly significant, such as Chinese elements at the court tents of the Khitan (pp. 237-239).

A substantial part of volume I is dedicated to diverse aspects of Mongolian tentage and the available sources. One of this chapter's focuses refers to the question of the Mongolian trellis tent's origin. There is namely no evidence for the existence of trellis tents under Chinggiz Qan; it first appears in a Chinese report of 1236. Evaluating sources and linguistic clues, the author suggests that the emergence of the Mongolian trellis tent can be explained "by the fusion of a pre-existing Mongolian felt tent [....] and the Turkic form" (p. 459). Hence, and this is one of the book's main propositions, the origin of the trellis tent is Turkish.

The splendour and extravagance of Tamerlane's tents was impressive enough to leave detailed contemporary descriptions, which give us a rather clear picture. As Timur's and the Timurid's cultural charisma was to have a great impact on developments and fashions of Islamic art in the whole Middle East, the reader will be especially grateful for many details in this section, described with meticulous methodological accuracy.

In volume II the main section (in total 439 pages) is dedicated to the tent culture of the Mughals, which seems to be not only the best documented, but presumably also the most elaborate tentage of all three contemporary great Muslim empires. One might think that this was just a perpetuation of a specific part of Timurid culture, but there is evidence that "the contrasting imagery of nomad and princely tents already existed before the Mughals arrived". Thus, an intense blend of different traditions can be noted in India, where for a lengthy span of time the princely trellis tent was in use at court for rites of passage.

Striking in Mughal tent culture is the tendency for tentage to be integrated into architecture. It seems that here Timurid habits and the long-established Indian tradition of portable wooden pavilions merged. The eclecticism prevailing in other branches of Mughal art is, of course, alive in tentage as well: Central Asian and native forms, materials from the home market, from Europe, the Ottoman Empire, China appear in varied combinations.

The two volumes of this work show clearly how eminently rewarding the study of material culture and its objects can be - if carried out, as here, with subtle methodology, sense for details and painstaking accuracy. A book like Peter Andrews' Felt Tents and Pavilions that answers questions of nomadic and princely life-style, economy, aesthetics and political self-representation by studying with a broad approach one branch of "things" can only be welcomed as an enormous gain for the world of learning.

Hedda Reindl-Kiel

University of Bonn
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