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Culture, Arts and History of Uzbekistan
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Printed Cloth

Making printed cloth was very popular among the peoples who inhabited the region of present Uzbekistan. Printed table-cloths, curtains, bed-spreads, shawls, high-quality cloth for women's garments, various coverlets (including horse-cloth), and even funeral cerements and other piece and metrical printed articles - performed a utilitarian function and served as a daily-round ornament.

Bukhara and adjacent villages were famed for making things of this kind. Beautiful articles were also made in Urgut, Shakhrisabz, Samarkand, Kattakurgan, Ferghana and Tashkent. The printed cloth made in Khoresm was notable for its originality.

The traditional art of decorating cloth with a printed pattern is bound up with orna-mented wood carving. Archaic methods of hand-printing with the help of wooden carved punches are known to many peoples, and everywhere this art, which is striking in its simplicity and generosity of artistic expression, is marked with national peculiarity. This art has developed in Uzbekistan for centuries. Among the V-VIII century murals discovered by soviet archeologists one can often find portrayals of richly-ornamented clothes made of various cloth trimmed with embroidery coupled with a weaved and printed pattern.

The favorite colour used for printed cloth in the XIX-XX centuries was a black pat-tern with deep-red subcolour against a pinkish background - a severe, yet warm tint. In former times the colour of printed cloth was more varied. Dark blue and indigo cloth enjoyed popularity. Popular-art tradition has singled out and preserved till today only the original black-red printed cloth.

Dominant in the ornamental compositions of printed cloth are fantastically-transformed blossoming gardens - luxuriantly opened flowers, graceful buds, entangled shoots, stems and leaves, ripening pomegranates, almonds and strawberries. Geometrical motifs are always subordinated to smooth and precise rhythms of the entire composition, and this is particularly noticeable in piece-works with rich multilined edging and large multilineal circles in the centre. This is illustrated by the samples from Bukhara and Tashkent, reproduced here.

The methods of making printed cloth are distinctive. The ornamented cloth, cotton in particular, was soaked with a solution of tannin, which in former times was made of the wood of a pistachio-tree. The pattern was imprinted on the cloth by hand with the use of a kalyb - a wooden dye.

The individuality of a master's creative work was conveyed in the process of imprinting the pattern, in his ability to select and group the dyes, of which each master possessed dozens, and some of them even hundreds. Pattern dyes served long and were handed down.

Making dyes was a unique field of wood-carving, for which the masters of Bukhara were famed in the past. Among contemporary wood-carvers some are noted for making dyes. Tashkent wood-carvers of today have made dyes with attractive patterns of cotton bolls and blossoms.

Uzbek Folk Art Supporters Community, Information Portal, 2002-2013.
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