About Uzbekistan

Financial Times published an article about Suzani art of Uzbekistan and Central Asia
18 October 2021
Financial Times published an article about Suzani art of Uzbekistan and Central Asia

Suzani - a traditional handmade decorative embroidery on textile items, which has rich historical roots in the countries of Central Asia. 

The very origin of Suzani art is believed to have started in the Fergana Valley, further spreading across other regions of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, remaining a popular artwork throughout the centuries. Traditionally, Suzani embroidery was developed and practiced by Central Asian women, mothers used to teach their daughters to master suzani embroidery as a part of the culture. 

Originated from the Persian word “Suzan” meaning needle, this traditional craftwork served as home décor, prayer mats, bedsheets, and decoration of yurts. Suzanis were also a significant part of a bride’s gift while getting married. A bride would bring it for her wedding day to bring wellbeing into her future married life. 

However, with the modernization of life under the Soviet Union, the art of suzani crafting lost its deserved essence and charm as a unique type of traditional art and remained unvalued for a while. An embroidered suzani cloth would be lost in some hidden corners of Uzbek houses as something unnecessary or old-fashioned. 

As Uzbekistan became an independent state, with the beginning of 90’s Suzani became a much demanded and highly valued handicraft product not only in Uzbekistan but also in the foreign market. When Uzbekistan started opening its gates to foreign investment and businesses after becoming an independent state, Suzani started getting highly noticed among local expats, who started decorating their modern houses with this fine piece of art and chose Suzani items as fashionable fragments of their wardrobe. 

As a result, Suzani products got hits among tourists visiting Uzbekistan as well. Cities of Bukhara, Samarkand, and Fergana, where suzani art is one of the essential handicraft cultures and traditions, started producing more traditional Uzbek embroidery items by the increasing demand. Local fashion designers started using colorful Suzani patterns in their modern tailor-made products, such as clothing, bags, hats, wall décor, etc. 

Consequently, with the scale of the increasing demand for these wonderful national art patterns encompassed in Suzani, the prices for such a luxury began to rise likewise. Foreigners, who felt the true value of these bright silk stitches embroidered on cotton or silk fabrics, were ready to pay multiplied rates for ready Suzani items, a true exotic gift of art to their taste and perception. 

Following the local designers, foreign fashion designers also started using these colorfully bright Uzbek embroidery patterns in their products, making Suzani even more popular worldwide. We can recall the same tendency happening to Uzbek Ikat – Adras on an international level. The stunning blueprint of Uzbek Ikat became remarkably popular in designers' artworks after independence, while having lost their value by the end of Soviet times in Uzbekistan and Central Asia. 

“Suddenly Suzani – the rise of Asian embroideries”, the article of the Financial Times dedicated to Central Asian traditional embroidery art, talks about the history and progress of Suzani throughout centuries. It describes Suzani highlighting its uniqueness and beauty as “Hanging a tapestry or a material on a wall is a way of softening a space. It adds liveliness, depth, and texture”. 

“We don’t have much information on them before the 18th century, but there was a tradition of embroidery far before that time” – was also mentioned in the article talking about the deep history of Suzani. 

The article also describes the variety of suzanis as being of fabulous colors and designs that have a really dynamic, contemporary feel. The author also made a research on the prices of these masterpiece products of suzani, marking that prices depend on the complexity, patterns, and the origin of these pieces of handmade textile art. “If they are particularly early, or they’ve got a really good provenance, or the design and colors are just that little bit different,” then the prices can be a lot higher than the rest.

Many of vivid and colorful samples of suzani used as wall décor, pillows, bedspread, and clothing were demonstrated in the article by various photos published by the Financial Times.

 

 

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Did you know?

Uzbekistan is one of only two countries in the world to be ‘double landlocked’ (landlocked and totally surrounded by other landlocked countries). Liechtenstein is double landlocked by 2 countries whilst Uzbekistan is surrounded by 5!

Did you know that Uzbekistan lies in the very heart of Eurasia, the coordinates for Uzbekistan are 41.0000° N, 69.0000°

Uzbekistan is home to the Muruntan gold mine, one of the largest open pit gold mines in the world! The country has 4th largest reserves of gold in the world after South Africa, USA and Russia

Uzbekistan is the world capital of melons. They have in excess of 150 different varieties, which form a staple part of the local diet, served fresh in the summer and eaten dried through the winter.

It is Uzbek tradition that the most respected guest be seated farthest from the house’s entrance.

Tashkent’s metro features chandeliers, marble pillars and ceilings, granite, and engraved metal. It has been called one of the most beautiful train stations in the world.

The Uzbek master chef is able to cook in just one caldron enough plov to serve a thousand men.

When you are a host to someone, it is your duty to fill their cups with for the whole time they are with you.  What you must not do, however, is to fill their cup more than half-full.  If you do that as a mistake, say it is a mistake immediately.  Doing it means you want them to leave.  Wow!  Amazing, right?

To Uzbeks, respect means a whole lot.  For this reason they love it if, even as foreigners, you endeavour to add the respectful suffix opa after a woman's name; and aka after a man's.  Example: Linda-opa and David-aka.  You could also use hon and jon respectively.

Having been an historic crossroads for centuries as part of various ancient empires, Uzbekistan’s food is very eclectic. It has its roots in Iranian, Arab, Indian, Russian and Chinese cuisine.

Though identified with the Persia, the Zoroastrism probably originated in Bactria or Sogdiana. Many distinguished scholars share an opinion that Zoroastrianism had originated in the ancient Khorezm. Indeed, today in the world there were found 63 Zoroastrian monuments, including those in Iran, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Thirty-eight of them are in Uzbekistan, whereas 17 of these monuments are located in Khorezm.

One of Islam's most sacred relics - the world's oldest Koran that was compiled in Medina by Othman, the third caliph or Muslim leader, is kept in Tashkent. It was completed in the year 651, only 19 years after Muhammad's death. 

Tashkent is the only megapolis in the world where public transport is totally comprised of Mercedes buses. And due to low urban air polution it is one of the few cities where one can still see the stars in the sky.

You would be surprised to know that modern TV was born in Tashkent. No joke! The picture of moving objects was transmitted by radio first time in the world in Tashkent on 26 of July 1928 by inventors B.P. Grabovsky and I.F. Belansky.

Uzbekistan is the only country in the world all of whose neighbours have their names ending in STAN. This is also the only country in Central Asia that borders all of the countries of this region

Uzbeks are the third populous Turkik ethnicity in the world after Turks and Azeris (leaving both in Azerbaijan and Iran)

Did you know that there was silk money in Khiva? Super interesting right? Of course, but the best part of having silk money was that it could be sewn into your clothing.

Famous Islamic physician Ibn Sina (Avicenna in the Latin world) who was born near Bukhara was the one of the first people to advocate using women’s hair as suture material – about 1400 years ago.

Uzbekistan has a long and bloody history. The most notorious leader of Uzbekistan was Timur (or Tamerlane) who claimed descent from Genghis Khan. His military campaigns have been credited for wiping out some 5% of the world’s population at the time.

If you have thought that some of the Islamic architecture in Uzbekistan resembles that from Northern India, then that is because Timur’s great great great Grandson, Babur Beg, was the founder of the Moghul Empire that ruled much of India for almost four centuries! Babur’s great great Grandson was Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal.

Uzbekistan was once a rum producig country. There is still a real arboretum in Denau (city near Termez on the border with Afghanistan), grown from a selection station that studied the prospects of plant growing in the unusual for the Soviet Union subtropical climate of Surkhandarya region: only here in the whole of the USSR sugar cane was grown and even rum was produced!

Uzbekistan has been ranked one of the safest countries in the world, according to a new global poll. The annual Gallup Global Law and Order asked if people felt safe walking at night and whether they had been victims of crime. The survey placed Uzbekistan 5th out of 135 countries, while the UK was 21st and the US 35th. Top five safest countries:

  • Singapore
  • Norway
  • Iceland
  • Finland
  • Uzbekistan
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