Sheepskin coats in the Bâbur-nâma
(64th Meeting Budapest, 2022)
Zahir-ud-din Muhammad Bâbur, Central Asian conqueror and founder of the Moghul empire, made many references to textiles – particularly regarding garments in his iconic autobiography. My interest in material culture, specifically in the field of textiles, makes use of Annette Susannah Beveridge’s 1922 translation of the Bâbur-nâma from the Turkic. I am concentrating on a specific item of clothing that was mentioned multiple times there – a man’s sheepskin coat – known as postîn. It is the first textile reference to be found in the Bâbur-nâma and occurs 9 pages into Bâbur’s description of Farghâna. This expression was documented by Bâbur as early as the 15th century, it crops up in the following centuries in various cultures and is still known by it today, e. g. in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. A certain amount of confusion persists regarding the term postîn because it was popular – not just in earlier times – to shorten it to tûn or ton.