Sun Bow Trading: Source Acquisition of Fine Tribal and Nomadic Textile Art Since 1978

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Camel Flowers: An exhibition of animal decorations from the tribal peoples of Anatolia & Iran

It was the fall of 1978, and I was being driven to Konya from Ankara, when I saw a man selling something unusual along the highway. We stopped for me to look. This was my first introduction to Camel Flowers, those circular decorative hangings for the camel's chest. These were heavily beaded, with many cowry shells, blue glass beads, plus some very strange - almost 'found' - additions. It was these bottle caps, buttons, feathers, political pins, zippers and other non traditional items which captivated me. Later I learned that these apotropaic devices are referred to as Nazarlik.,

I became a collector on the spot, and proceeded to acquire as many of these non commercial creations as I could locate. I discovered that there were also animal decorations for the head, the neck, the tail, even the knee. Somewhat later I found that these were not specific to Anatolia, but were a part of the animal decorations of the nomadic herding peoples of the Silk Road.

As breeders and herders, nomadic peoples have always attempted to improve their herds. Thus, there are special (and proven) breeding animals who are more valued within the herd. These are the animals who are given extra protective embellishment.

These decorations have multiple purposes: providing beauty, and showing creativity, and tribal identification, in addition to bringing good luck and protection. There are cowry shells for fertility, and many blue beads and distracting hangings to both protect the animals, and mis-direct and confuse potential ill will (see the notes on our Nazarlik Exhibition).

Central Anatolian Camel Head Decoration - circa 1920's

Our collection has been in the making since 1978. There are over 300 pieces in total. However, we are only showing a small percentage.

We are concentrating on showing Anatolian, Persian and Baluch examples, as these are the vast bulk of the collection. Some of these wonderfully creative examples of tribal art are as precious as their weavings, and much rarer.

Each and every piece has its own story to tell. One can discern the differences between various tribal groups in their patterns, use of materials, and overall presentation. Some of our favorites have been created with 'slender' means, yet they are also some of the most interesting.

Qasghai Camel Head Decoration - dated 1331

I am sad to report, that this form of creative art is in its last gasp. The vast herds of camels used for the Caravan Trade Routes, have been reduced to a few examples being kept as pets.

There are still Camel Wrestling Contests in Turkey. But they are fewer and fewer, and less and less attended. Truly we are at the End of An Era. This collection of tribal art, would not be possible to collect in situ if attempted today.

We hope you enjoy this as much as we have enjoyed collecting, and displaying it.

Please visit our shop to see what we are presently offering.

Please click here to visit our online store.

all best,

Saul & the Sun Bow Crew  


We've been outfitting caravans
from Downtown Charlottesville since 1978.
    Open Monday through Saturday
11:00 - 6:00
Awaiting the Pleasure of Your Visit
Traditional Tea Served
  Sun Bow Trading Company
110 W South Street
Charlottesville, Va 22902

Right off the Mall
The South Street Bed & Breakfast
The South Street Brewery
Directly behind
The Farmers' Market