"Dream Weavers - Textile Art From the Tibetan Plateau"

"The rug weaving tradition of the high Tibetan plateau is a varied one, replete with vibrant imagery and vivid color that lies in stark contrast to its harsh, desolate environs.

In Dream Weavers: Textile Art from the Tibetan Plateau, Thomas Cole traces the origins of the Tibetan people and their culture, and takes the reader through the tribal tradition of the Tibetan weaving aesthetic. This perceptive and well-documented historical text establishes a fascinating new light in which the Tibetan people, their culture and traditions should be viewed. The tribal tradition of the Tibetan weaving aesthetic on which he speculated more than 10 years ago is validated through the interesting synthesis of ideas and sources, tracing the origins of the Tibetan people and their culture in a well documented historical text that reads like an unfolding narrative.

Accompanying the text are complete descriptions and technical analyses of a selection of 68 rugs from the collection of Shirin and Giuseppe De Giosa. The weavings presented here not only reflect the inner warmth of a very soulful people, they represent a cross section of the breadth of design as seen in the mind's eye of the Tibetan weavers." - Marshall Cavendish, International (Asia) Private Ltd., Singapore

The book, Dream Weavers - Art from the Tibetan Plateau is the culmination of years of research and planning, an opportunity that finally presented itself in April, 2004 and subsequently released by Marshall Cavendish in Singapore just a few months later.

Published in hardcover, 9 3/4" x 11" with a dust jacket (see above), the text will serve to educate those with an interest in Tibetan rugs as well as those who are fascinated by the most exotic and compelling features of Tibetan culture and their practice of the Buddhist religion.

Table of Contents

Who Are the Tibetans
Myth & Legend

The Early History of Tibet

Central Asian Influences on Tibet
An Empire Lost in the Mists of Time
Assimilation: Bon and Buddhism Bonds Forged Through Marriage & Modern Statecraft

Medieval Glimpses of Tibet
Travel Accounts from the 13th through the 18th Century
Accounts from W.W. Rockhill

Origins of the Craft

19th and 20th Century Observations

Nomadic (Tribal) Production?




Rug Types and Functions
Rugs for Sleeping - Seating Rugs for Lamas and Special Occasions - Door Rugs - Tiger Rugs - Rugs for Monastic Use - Saddlery


Chinese Silk Textile Patterns - Checkerboard - Tiger Rugs & Other Animal Imagery - Pre-Buddhist and Buddhist Symbols - Geometric Designs - Medallions



Reader Reviews & Comments

"Tom - I received the book Friday and I thank you for prompt delivery. I had the good fortune of waking up at 3 AM today so I immediately tucked in to it.

I was happy to find that it was written with your customary level of credible scholarship, lucidity and engaging narrative. Coupled with the awesome images, I have no doubt that you have set a new and lasting standard in the field of Tibetan rug books............

Congratulations and thank you for this wonderful book."
- Don Breyer (Oakland, CA), from an email received November 20, 2004


" Tom- You have explained your perspective on Tibetan rugs and the history of the weaving tradition on the plateau in such detail and with such clarity, it is difficult to imagine that the debate of the past inspired by that initial HALI article will ever resurrect itself, even in the back alleys of Boudha or Kathmandu.

Thank you for the opportunity to study this well conceived text as well as take in the descriptions you have composed for the featured rugs.

Congratulations, you have made a real contribution to Tibetan rug studies." -
Charles Weinberger (former resident of Boudha, Nepal, currently San Francisco, CA), from an email received November 25, 2004


"Hi Tom - I finally read your book and enjoyed it a lot. I found it very thoughtful, clear, well-reasoned and engaging.

I like the way you parse what has been thought and said about Tibetan rugs and their origins and how you put forth your own opinion based on what's known. You really provide a clear and sensible picture, unlike most of the other books on the subject.

I also like your plate descriptions of the rugs in the collection. Overall, the book is really informative. Good job"
.- Robert Dunn (Berkeley, CA), from an email received December 5, 2004


"Hi Thomas ! - I have received everything in order. The book on Tibetan rugs, is really important and very well done and fills a hole in an area where we don't have really too many books available." - Massimo Meregalli (Italy), from an email received December 9, 2004


"Hi Tom - Got around to reading your Tibetan rug book last weekend (actually read the text not just looked at the pictures.) The research you did is excellent. It really goes a long way into filling in some big "historical" holes on the history of the Tibetan peoples and how they fit into the bigger picture of Central Asian history." - Kurt Munkacsi (New York, NY), collector of Turkmen weavings, from an email received January 6, 2005


"Tom - I read it cover to cover. I think it’s superb. There is very little I can say as I an only an enthusiast and no expert on either central Asian/Tibetan history nor on rugs. I have spent a considerable amount of my spare time reading about the history and cultures of a broad area beginning in the west Afghanistan and ending about where the true (Han) china begins north and east of Vietnam.

So I am not one to have difficulty with your main thesis regarding the linkages of central Asian tribal rugs and slightly more east-Asian TIBETAN tribal rugs. Indeed it should be hard for anyone with a sense of the history to expect that Tibetan rug design and technique just popped up in the middle of U- Tsang without any connection to the west or east. And a quick look at the designs certainly would link them more with the Caucasian rugs than the Chinese. A few weeks in Ladakh would be enough to drive this point home for anyone.

Your text explaining the differences and the relationship between settled and semi-nomadic cultures (both equally “Tibetan) is key to understanding the reality of the situation.

The collection is quite good, and the number of plates of truly good rugs is almost overwhelming. Anyway, a truly great book. Thank you for writing it, and making it available to me." -
Moses Vaughn (Mill Valley, CA) excerpted from an email received January 13, 2005


Dear Tom, - Although I looked at the pictures when I first got it, I have only now, finally, been able to read through Dream Weavers carefully, and despite the late date I'd like to make a brief comment.

Reading the text was almost as much of a pleasure as going through the wonderful pictures. Especially because I know nothing about Tibetan rugs, I learned a very great deal, in good measure because your exposition and summary of what is obviously a lot of material is so clear. You are able to provide a context for the rugs and to place them in a broader setting, both historical and with specific reference to weaving traditions.  The links to central Asian tribal rugs surprised me, but you make a persuasive case. I found particularly cogent your discussion of relationships between settled and nomadic peoples, which is course is relevant to many situations in addition to those found in Tibet. -
Frances Plunket (Washington, DC), excerpted from an email received March 9, 2005


A Breath of Fresh Air & Realism to Tibetan Rug Studies!!
December 29, 2004

Reviewer: BKN (USA) - "Finally, someone has succinctly and simply placed the Tibetan people, their culture and history as well as the weaving tradition within a Central Asian context. Devoid of the usual reliance upon Buddhism and the hocus pocus that pervades most texts of this type (ie. every rug is a meditation mat !), Cole has given a much need perspective through what appears to be a very sensible and well researched approach to the subject. The text really has little to do with rugs, per se, but more involved with early Tibetan history and medieval accounts of travel through the region. It was a pleasure to read and such an easy read too, as it is written in a narrative style that belies the depth of research and the assumption of a scholarly tone that is achieved without pretensions or arrogance. For anyone who is truly interested in Tibetan weavings as well as Tibetan history, this book is a must read! Not to be missed! " - From www.amazon.com