Suzani, meaning “of needle” in Persian, are large-scale embroideries central to Central Asian domestic culture. Young girls learned to sew at an early age, often beginning to work on textiles intended for their own marriage dowries. Suzanis were considered the most important textiles in a dowry. Indicators of skill and family wealth, they were status symbols intended to be used in the home as bed covers, covers for stacked piles of clothing or blankets, or as wall hangings.

These colorfully embroidered textiles were made communally by many hands. Drawing from a vocabulary of traditional designs, a family member, or a kalamkash (professional draftswoman), would sketch the design on strips of loosely joined cotton fabric. In this case, the design was drawn on five strips, then separated and embroidered by different women in the family or community group. Once embellished, the strips were sewn together, accounting for the irregularities along the seams and the color variation of the threads. This piece was lined with two colorful warp print fabrics.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *