Suzani: A vibrant crucible of the creative alteration of Uzbekistan

April 26, 2017

An 8-year-old girl, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed looks expectantly at her grandma who is carefully unwinding a lustrous silk thread from the spool. Her eyes beam with eager anticipation of what will unravel next. The little girl ambles around her grandma, putting up an adorable charade of indifference while the latter threads the needle. But the occasional stealing of covert glances gives away the impatient expectancy bubbling in her little head. Who is this little girl and why is she so fixated with her grandma’s sewing project?

Well, this little girl is representative of every young Uzbek girl who models herself on her mother/grandma so that one day she too is able to furnish household articles with beautiful details. The said details are achieved through steady, hand-guided movements and confident usage of bold colors. This traditional textile craft, which is unique to Uzbekistan and neighboring countries like Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Kyrgyzstan, is known as ‘Suzani’. Its history is a rich palimpsest of cultures and ethnicities that influenced, transformed, and shaped it for it to become an enduring emblem of ancestral art.
 

                                                                Image source: Pinterest

The word ‘Suzani’ is of Persian provenance that can be translated as ‘needlework’. Bold florals, sinuous vines, dainty vegetal motifs, complex grid patterns, etc. are some of Suzani’s many design strands.

 

                                                                 Image source: Pinterest
 

                                      Oi Palak, the enigmatic moon design