“They change the common view about nomads,” says Soren Starke, Assistant Professor of Central Asian Art and Archaeology at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University (ISAW).
“The common perception that they were aimless and wandering is not correct. They were mobile – it was essential to their way of life. They were highly adaptive to their environments.
” ISAW will open the first U.S. exhibition of nomadic culture of ancient Kazakhstan on from March 7 through June 3, 2012.
Called “Nomads and Networks: The Ancient Art and Culture of Kazakhstan,” it focuses on the peoples of the Altai and Tianshan regions in the eastern part of the country, from roughly the eighth to first centuries BC.
With nearly 250 objects on loan from Kazakhstan’s four national museums, the exhibition provides a compelling portrait of nomadic culture, challenging the traditional view of these societies as less developed than sedentary ones.
“They moved through different environments to make use of them at different times of the year,” he says. “They moved from the lowlands to the high mountains – and their social rhythms were defined by this way of life and movement.” Artifacts on view in the exhibition range from bronze offering-stands, superbly decorated with animal and human figures, to petroglyphs marking important places in the landscape, to dazzling gold adornments that marked the social status of those who wore them. Also included are saddles and expertly carved horse trappings that display fascinating hybrid mythical animals.
The artifacts were frozen almost immediately after their burial some 2,500 years ago. “Most of the materials are perishable – wood or bone or textile, but they were frozen inside the tombs in the highland areas,” he says. “We were lucky to find them.” The sophistication of the tribes’ handiwork contradicts any misperception of them as rootless wanderers. “They were much more constricted. They negotiated with neighbors for routes, and to use specific meadows at specific times,” he says.
As late as the early 20th century, people in the region were still living that way, shepherding horses, sheep and goats, and engaged in minor agriculture. Each group was interconnected inside the steppe, and with their secondary neighbors in Persia and China. In short, the term “nomad” is incorrect.
“They were more like mobile pastoralists,” he says. And fine artisans as well.
Source: Architects and Artisans.com
For more information, go to The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World/ New York University
The first published photo's of this exhibition are absolutely stunning!
Feline Face and Stylized Ornaments from Horse Tack. Wood, and Tin and Gold Foil. Berel, Kurgan 11, late 4th - early 3rd century B.C.E. Presidential Center of Culture, Astana. Courtesy Viktor Kharchenko, The Presidential Center of Culture of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Astana.
Round Tray on Conical Stand with Figures of Seated Man and Standing Horse in Center. Bronze, 5th - 3rd century B.C.E.. Central State Museum, Alamaty. Courtesy Central State Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Almaty.
Belt Terminus with Granulation and Argali Decoration. Gold, Zalauli (Kegen District, Almaty Region), 7th - 6th century B.C.E. Central State Museum, Almaty. Courtesy Central State Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Almaty.
Plaque of Argali Head Suspended from Ribbed Bar from Horse Tack. Wood, Gold Foil, Berel, Kurgan 11, late 4th - early 3rd century B.C.E. Presidential Center of Culture, Astana. Courtesy Viktor Kharchenko, The Presidential Center of Culture of Kazakhstan, Astana.
Horse Tack as Shown on a Reconstruction of the Horse from Kurgan 36 at Berel. Courtesy Z. Samashev
Diadem, Gold, Turquoise, Carnelian, Coral. 2nd century B.C.E - 1st century C.E. (Wusun) Central State Museum, Almaty. Courtesy Central State Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Almaty.
Plaque of Facing Elk-Griffin Heads. Horn (Siberian Red Deer), Berel, Kurgan 36, late 4th - early 3rd century B.C.E. A. Kh. Margulan Institute of Archaeology, Almaty. Courtesy Y. Cherkashin, A. Kh. Margulan Institute of Archaeology, Almaty.