How To Get Down from a Yak:
Adventures in Central Asian Nomadic Textiles
Wednesday 7th July 2021
Chris Aslan Alexander
Houses made from wool that warm in the depths of winter, carpets that tell stories, woven bands that appease ancestors, embroideries that ward off evil, kilims that store kitchenware – with everything ready to be packed and carried on a yak or camel at a moment’s notice.
The little-known nomadic textile cultures of the Kyrgyz, Turkoman and Karakalpak will be explored in this lecture, along with the rise and fall of nomadism and where nomadism fits within the modern world.
Our speaker will share his own experience of working for three years with nomadic yak herders in the High Pamirs.
Chris Aslan Alexander was born in Turkey and spent his childhood both there and in war-torn Beirut. After school, he spent two years at sea before studying Media and Journalism and then moving to Khiva, a desert oasis in Uzbekistan, where he established a UNESCO workshop reviving fifteenth century carpet designs and embroideries. He became the largest non-government employer in town.
After a time in Uzbekistan, he spent three years in the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan, training yak herders to comb their yaks for their cashmere-like down. Next came two years in Kyrgyzstan living in the world’s largest natural walnut forest and establishing a wood-carving workshop. Since then, Chris has studied at Oxford, and is now based in Cambridge, focusing on writing fiction.
He is currently working on a new book on the Silk Road that marries travel and textiles. He leads tours to Central Asia, where a large chunk of his heart remains.
This lecture will be streamed online on Wednesday 7th July 2021 at 2:00pm. TAS RLS members will be invited by email to join the lecture.
This is a change to our original programme. The lecture, “Wonder Workers and the Art of Illusion: The History of Magic Through Art and Pictures” by Bertie Pearce will now take place in July 2022.