A Carpet Ride to Khiva
03 Mar 2010
Christopher Aslan Alexander originally travelled to Khiva, a little-known walled city in Uzbekistan, to write a guide book.
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Christopher Aslan Alexander originally travelled to Khiva, a little-known walled city in Uzbekistan, to write a guide book. An exotic desert oasis, it lies in a remote region bordering Turkmenistan, in central Asia. Most travellers simply pass on by, but Chris chose to stay.
A deeply personal memoir, A Carpet Ride to Khiva is a magical and often hilarious story of one man’s journey into the heart of the unknown. Gradually learning the language, Chris found his feet and soon became a key part of the community.
Despite having no training or previous knowledge of textiles, he found himself setting up a school to revive the forgotten arts of natural dyeing and carpet weaving.
Chris became absorbed in a fascinating world of sericulture – rearing silkworms to make his own thread – exotic dyes and 15th century carpet designs gleaned from ancient manuscripts and miniatures.
Accompanied by a large green parrot, a ginger cat and his new adoptive Uzbek family, A Carpet Ride to Khiva sees Alex crawling through silkworm-droppings to record their life-cycle, tackling a carpet-thieving mayor, distinguishing natural dyes from sacks of opium in Afghanistan and having to bluff his way through an impromptu version of My Heart Will Go On for national Uzbek TV.
While A Carpet Ride to Khiva reveals how contradictory and different daily life in Uzbekistan is, the reader leaves with a deeply satisfying, lingering sense of how similar we all are.
A Carpet Ride to Khiva: Seven Years on the Silk
Road by Christopher Aslan Alexander, £14.99
ISBN 978 1848311251
Contact: Icon Books UK,
Omnibus Business Centre,
39-41 North Road,
London, N7 9DP
Photo: Christopher Aslan Alexander
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