Central Asia is justifiably famous for its textiles, which include rugs and tribal trappings, elaborate embroideries and colorful ikats. Textile production spans the extremes of rich, urban court centers to the open, nomadic steppes, and bridges Europe and China. Cultural influences have migrated along the trade routes across this region for millennia. We have lived on the edge of this region, and been exposed to and able to collect a sampling of its textile wealth. Here we offer a small portion of our collection.
From the Swat Valley in western Pakistan, this heavily embroidered woman’s tunic has been lovingly repaired and pieced with old bits of embroidery and handspun cloth. The front is covered with silk motifs which are similar to rug designs in the region, of vibrant magenta silk with accents in yellow. The back is not intended to show and has been repaired with a cloth dotted with previous embroidered designs. Not as elaborate as newer versions we’ve seen, this tunic is probably much older, as the handspun cotton would suggest: some is black cotton, and some is very dark indigo. Condition is good with original repairs.
Size: 61 in. cuff to cuff x 20 in. across chest x 39 in. shoulder to hem
Not often found, this type of eating cloth, or ‘dastarkhan’, is from northwest Afghanistan. It would have been used on the floor as a cloth on which to put food and to sit around, probably for ceremonies. Painstakingly embroidered in wool on a plainweave natural wool background, it is quite elaborate in pattern and color. Unlike some we’ve seen this one is completely covered in embroidery, with no background showing except on the ends. It is over 30 years old and was brought by Hajj pilgrims to Saudi Arabia to help finance their journey. Condition is excellent. Documentation of these uncommon textiles can be found in R.D. Parson’s Oriental Rugs; Vol.3; The Carpets of Afghanistan; p.52-3..
Size: 72.5″ x 24″
Probably from the Balouch tribe, this attractive salt bag is woven in both pile and flat weave. The colors could be natural and include various reds, orange, brown and blue/black. Condition is very good, tho some small spots of moth damage are in the pile, but barely noticeable; priced accordingly.
Size: 19 in. x 13.5 in.
Used as a room or yurt partition at weddings, these large textiles are actually embroideries, and are from Uzbekis in Afghanistan. This one is all wool with large, ‘gul’-like designs on a plainweave background dyed with natural color. Often, the designs’ coloration takes on a strong diagonal direction, animating and unifying the somewhat busy field of colors. These pieces look terrific over a table, on a bed or on a wall.
(See From Desert and Oasis; Arts of the People of Central Asia, p.76 -77 for another example)
Size: 65″ x 108″
Made of the famous Uzbek silk ikat, this ‘chapan’ has a nicely subdued, but rich coloration and is very modern in its simplified pattern. It is not new, but is not antique- we think maybe 30+ years old. Lined in a lightweight printed cotton, and sized generously, it would be easy for most to wear on casual, or more elegant occasions. Or it could be displayed on a wall or as a colorful throw. Condition is very good.
Size: 49″h x 56″ across the arms
Made of the famous Uzbek silk ikat, this vintage woman’s ‘chapan’ has a nicely subdued, but rich coloration and is very modern in its simplified pattern. It is not new, but is not antique- we think mid-20th century. The edges have all been adorned in decorative machine stitching in a pleasant band of pattern, and inch wide lines of stitching all over give it a quilted effect. An added stylized ‘collar and lapels’ are a quaint nod to fashion. It is lined in a lightweight printed cotton. The size is a bit small to wear, but it would display nicely on a wall. Condition is quite good, tho there is some wear evident.
Size: 46″h x 53″ across arms
From eastern Afghanistan, possibly Nuristan, or Paktia Province, near the border with Pakistan, this ornate man’s coat is a superb example of its genre. Made of a heavy, thickly woven fabric that appears to be wool mixed with hemp, it is embellished with heavy silk embroidery, mirrors and beads, fine golden ribbon, golden braid, gold-wrapped thread, and panels of velvet. Stylized flowers and Tree Of Life motifs predominate in the embroidery, forming an overall graphically-pleasing composition on both sides. This was obviously a labor of love, as sewing on the thick fabric was not easy; most stitching is by hand (suzani), but some was by machine. We think it is probably from the mid-20th century. The inside shows a little wear, and there is one hole and some discoloration on the front of the left sleeve (see detail), but overall the condition is very good. Other examples can be seen in the Textile Museum of Canada’s online collection. This could be easily worn, as well as handsomely displayed on a wall.
Size: 62 in. cuff to cuff x 26.5 in. across chest x 31.5 in. shoulder to hem