Uzbekistan Info

Culture, Arts and History of Uzbekistan
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Gourd vessels and snuff boxes
Papier-mache and laquer miniature
Toys and small ceramics
Metal chasing
Duppi - Skull Caps
Gold Embroidery
Rugs, Carpets and Carpetmaking


Supplementing other kinds of architectural and decorative arts such as ganch (gypsum) and wood-carving, embroidered articles widely adorned dwellings and small household articles. Embroidery was practiced on a large scale on everyday and holiday dress. Local artistic styles took shape. In the XIX century Bukhara, Nurata, Shakhrisabz, Samarkand, Jizak, Tashkent, Pskent and Ferghana were major centres of embroidery. Worthy of mention is that embroidery was exclusively a woman's art.

Up till the 1880's embroidery was done in silk and wool, dyed with natural dyes on homespun white or reddish cotton. Later handmade violet, yellow, green and orange shokhi silks, as well as factory-made cloth were used for large-scale embroidery. Utilizing aniline to dye thread, which was initiated in the 1870's, on the one hand led to a deterioration of the quality of embroidery, as it easily faded. On the other hand it intensified the contrast and richness of the colour, which imparted traits of contemporary style. In the past embroidered patterns are known to have been used for ritual purposes. This was particularly the case with nuptial articles where the magic ornament was destined to keep off evil spirits from the young couple. Since then the magic function of patterns have been supplemented with poetic images.

In most cases the composition of large decorative articles of mural embroidery -syuzana, palyak, gulkurpa - curtains for covering niches -joipush, kirpech, friezes fringing the upper part of a wall - zardevor, rugs used for prayers -joinamaz, cloth used for wrapping up things - bugjoma, nuptial bed-sheets - ruidjo - was made up of patterns of bushes with opened flowers, circles, intricate rosettes, heads of flowers on thin stems and shoots of leaves. Sometimes images of animals and birds in bright plumage may be found in a magnificent vegetal pattern.

Uzbek mural embroideries are indeed splendid for their intricate rhythmic composition, at one moment sparkling with loud and solemn colours, at another - with soft and delicate hues.

In large ornamented embroideries the amount of cloth, taken up with a pattern, nearly always exceeds that of the remaining background, and not unfrequently the entire cloth is taken up with embroidery. Therefore, just as hand-weaved carpets, they needed tremendous energy and a long time to make.

High skill in subordinating the composition of the pattern and its scale to the diverse forms of articles tells on designing the smart details of a garment: girdles, purses, sheaths, waist-bands and head-bands, decorative braids and in particular the original headwear-skull-caps.

Karakalpak embroidery, which adorned small articles of personal consumption and women's attire, is notable for its peculiarity. The embroidery found on women's garments worn in older times was exceptionally rich. Embroidery was abundantly used in ornamenting the attire of brides and young women - the traditional blue dresses - kok koiiek, mantles with dummy sleeves - dgegde (red was the colour worn by young women, and white - by the old and elderly), certain parts of clothes such as oversleeves - ton jenkse - worn on outdoor clothes in winter, small articles for practical purposes - small tea-bags - shaikalt torby, utensils.

There were two kinds of embroidery in Karakalpakia: one done by hand with the iime chain-stitch coupled with various small stitches, and half criss-cross stitches - shrish tguis. The chain-stitch was used on red-black cloth and other close fabrics: crisscrossing was done on locally-made cloth, which substituted canvas. Vegetal patterns were embroidered with a chain-stitch; geometrical patterns were done with criss-cross stitch. The embroidery of kok koiiek - an ancient dress made of blue cloth - was quite unique. The pattern of embroidery was commonly called sauit, which means chain armour. Kok koiiek was embroidered all over the front from collar to hem. The pattern was embroidered in red-crimson silk interspersed with details sewn with white and yellow threads.

The skilful use of traditional patterns and restrained, unusual harmonious colouring impart to Karakalpak embroidery a uniquity. In present Karakalpak women's attire embroidery adorns garments of national cut - the slit on the breast, tips of sleeves and hem - are embroidered with an edging design.

The traditions of hand embroidery are being carried on and developed. In our days, as decades ago, various skull-caps, men's waist-bands - belbog, decoration braids -dzhiyak, embroidery of small articles and large-scale decorative tapestries - are made in Shakhrisabz, Urgut, Baisun, Dashnabad, Jarkurgan and in the Ferghana Valley towns.

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