When they knew how to camp

I have my friend Shervin to thank for originally posting this to his Facebook page. Like me, he has a hankering for the magnificent textiles of the past!


Tipu Sultan’s Tent

A wall panel from Tipu Sultan's tent. Cotton chintz with a white ground, patterned with acanthus cusped niches, each enclosing a central vase with symmetrical flower arrangement, predominantly in reds and greens, the green achieved by over-painting dyed indigo with yellow (a fugative pigment which has partially disappeared). An enlarged version of the flower-head motif appears in the main horizontal borders on a green ground, and scaled down on a yellow ground in the spandrels of the arch. Triple vertical borders separate the panels, at each end of which is a metal eyelet that has been whipped with thick cotton thread. A black and white merlon and rosette band runs along the top of the qanats. The outside of the tent is a seperate layer of coarse white cotton. Later Mughal, c.1725-50.


A giftto Catherine the Great

A gift of Turkish Sultan Selim III to Catherine the Great in 1793 Cashmere fabric, gold thread, embroidery....
The Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg ranks among the most famous museums in the world. The main architectural ensemble of the Hermitage situated in the centre of St Petersburg consists of the Winter Palace, the former state residence of the Russian emperors, the buildings of the Small, Old (Great) and New Hermitages, the Hermitage Theatre and the Auxiliary House. The museum complex also includes the Menshikov Palace, the Eastern Wing of the General Staff building, the Museum of the Imperial Porcelain Factory and the Staraya Derevnya Restoration and Storage Centre.

The Hermitage Museum collections include around three million pieces of world class treasures, of which only about a tenth are on display in the Museum complex in the Winter Palace. Among them are paintings, graphic works, sculptures and works of applied art, archaeological finds and numismatic material. The rest are stored in the Hermitage storage facilities. In this fascinating storage, we see architectural genius: the ability to beautifully both store (on a large scale) and display world treasures (in a high security environment). We see rows upon rows of great Masters in their glass fronted filing cabinets, sculptures from many genres and epochs, and the breathtaking icon collection. With only about one-tenth of the three million pieces on display at the museum, our exclusive behind-the-scenes visit allows you to see how the world-class collections are stored when not on display...The Hermitage Storage Facility at Staraya Derevnya is located nearby to the metro station of the same name. It is a large modern facility where the artwork and other items that are not on display in the museum proper are stored. The secure storage facility holds items never before displayed and also items too large to be shown in the Winter Palace, such as the Imperial carriage collection. These chambers hold a wealth of treasures. Visitors can see there a number of exciting exhibitions including tapestry collection, open storage of XVI—XIX centuries' furniture, a travelling tent of a Turkish sultan and others.

Not many museums allow visitors in their storage facilities. The Hermitage is one of the exceptions.

This remarkable project, has begun in 1990, is designed to store securely and scientifically the vast funds of the Hermitage that are not part of the permanent displays, while giving public access to this wealth of historic and artistic artifacts. Using state-of-the-art storage and display techniques, the Hermitage Storage Facility covers 35,000 square meters of floor space, and comprises restoration workshops and lecture halls as well as the vast 'open storage' facility. The building is equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including a microclimate control system. Modern approaches to the storage and restoration of works of art were used during construction of the facility, as were up-to-date computer and security systems.

The new facility holds collections from the Departments of Western European Art, Russian Culture, the Orient, and Eastern European and Siberian Archeology. It also has a research laboratory for restoring paintings. The building doubles as a branch of the Hermitage and will allow visitors to learn about storing works of art.

The tour route currently open to visitors covers over a kilometer of displays. The largest collection is from the Department of the History of Russian Culture, and comprises over 3,500 canvases by Russian artists from the 17th to the 20th centuries, ingeniously displayed on sliding racks, as well as ancient frescoes from churches in Pskov and Smolensk, icons, sculpture, and antique Russian furniture.

Other displays of note include exhibits that, due to their size, have rarely been displayed to the public before, including the impressive Hall of Carriages. Also on display are a wealth of classical monuments, and some lesser known works of European art.....


OVAL TENT WITH TWO MASTS. Turkey, 1st half of the 17th c. Cotton, satin, gilt leather. Won at Vienna in 1683; in. 1728 it was taken to Dresden by August II. Bought from the Vettin collection and donated to Wawel by Szymon Szwarc in 1934. One of the most exquisite works of Turkish tent making.....anyone better photo ?!....Hali cited : The tent was captured at Vienna on 12 September 1683, when the Holy League army of Polish King John III Sobieski and that of the Holy Roman Emperor defeated the Turkish army commanded by Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa. In 1729 the tent was taken by Augustus (II) the Strong to Saxony to lend lustre to military exercises and great parades. It was donated to Wawel in 1934 by Szymon Szwarc.

The roof and walls are decorated with arcades within which are medallions filled with intertwining floral patterns and flowers, including stylised carnations and tulips – the Otttomans’ favourite flower. Above the oval medallions are cartouches of gold satin with blessings written in Arabic script. The tent was originally supported on two poles, the sockets into which these go are reinforced with leather, and a system of pegs and ropes for pulling and stretching the fabric were used. The outer surface is covered in sturdy canvas, impregnated with copper compounds, which gives it its cool, pale green colour.

The tent underwent restoration from 1991 until 1999: all of the appliqué decoration was removed, the fabrics were cleaned in water baths and then re-applied. Today it is brilliant condition and helps recreate some of the splendour associated with the higher echelons of Ottoman society, even on military campaign.

The tent was on show until 12 September 2013 at Wawel Royal Castle, Special Exhibition Rooms, 2nd Floor, enter via Senators’ Staircase.