ELENA TSAREVA SPOKE TO US
ELENA TSAREVA was our speaker when we met at THE JAMES
BLACKMON GALLERY on Wednesday 19 February 2004
ELENA TSAREVA is with The Textile Research Programs in the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (KUNSTKAMERA)* The Russian Academa of Sciences, Saint Petersburg, Russia (Previously she had been curator of felts and carpets in The Ethnography Museum of the Peoples of the USSR in Leningrad, but in 1991, this museum changed its name to The Russian Ethnography Museum in Saint Petersburg--the SAME museum and the SAME city, but different names. That famous museum contains the central Asian items gathered by Dudin, over a hundred years ago.) Now Elena Tsareva is at a different prestigious museum, The "KUNSTKAMERA", at a different location in Saint Petersburg--"across [the Neva River] from The Hermitage."
In our "last minute" announcement we gave Elena Tsareva's subject as "Pazyryk Excavations" BUT she had prepared a special talk just for us and spoke about "FELTS" (including those found in the Pazyryk excavations, now on display in the Hermitage Museum).
ELENA TSAREVA, in her talk, touched upon the processes involved in felt-making techniques. The central portion of the immense Eurasian landmass is where felt originated millennia ago. Some of the oldest intact felts are from the Pazyryk Excavations, about 400 BCE. Evidence of even older felts comes from ancient sculputeres, paintings, and desert burials often taking th form of felt clothing. Elena gave us convincing evidence of the widespread making and use of felt in the Eurasian landmass--from Europe to Japan. Wool felt was the first "textile"; one centimeter of felt can separate the outdoors from the interdoors, freezing cold from toasty warmth. Felt has been thought to be magic.
The three programs--Melina (and Bamdad) Raissnia (at the Sandra Whitman Gallery), Harald Bohmer's video of Turkish nomads (at the Krimsa Gallery), and this presentation by Elena Tsareva (at The James Blackmon Gallery)--have been a most impressive individually and as a "trio." *Melina and Bamdad Raissnia showed us felts of the highest quality and intricacy being made by older men in an urban setting in Iran. (Many in the western rug world have not known that such felts existed.) They showed us a video of the making of the very felt rugs we were holding in our hands *Harald Bohmer's video of Turkish nomads making felts showed us what many in the rug world had known about. Elena TSAREVA's talk showed us how long ago it was, how excellent they were, and how really widespread felt and felt-making has been throughout all of Europe and all of Asia--information worth remembering.
Then Jim Blackmon briefly showed us some excellent felts--some "imbedded= (ala kiyiz), some appliqued, and some "mosaic" (shyrdak). He also did a brief "Show & Tell) of the elegant South American weavings on his gallery walls.
*"Art Room." German words are also used in English, e.g., Kindergarten.