Monday, 4 June 2007

Ikat and Suzani textiles

Has anyone else noticed the resurgence of Ikats, Suzani's and other Middle-Eastern and Asian textiles? I'm totally in love with them, and the indigenous colours and designs from each region. So I thought I'd share a source that I found for original Ikats and Suzani's that are hand made in Uzbekistan. Uzbek Craft is an American company with ties in the region that sells textiles and other products online, and they deliver worldwide. Here are just a few of the designs that I fell in love with over the weekend...

I love the vibrant colours of these Ikat fabrics. For anyone that dosn't know, Ikat is a very tradiational method of creating designs in fabric by resist-dyeing the threads before the fabric is woven. In Uzbekistan, villagers take the weft (crosswise filling threads) and tie tiny bits of plastic onto the threads. The tightly tied areas of thread, when put into the dye pot, resist the color and create a pattern, once the plastic ties are removed. Traditional Uzbek ikats are often dyed in lively motifs representing the village life, culture and beliefs of the people. Ikats are often symbols of status, wealth, power and prestige. Modern Uzbek ikats are made from cotton and silk and are brightly colored with man-made or natural dyes. Ikat fabrics are woven by hand on narrow looms which is a labour-intensive process. Uzbek ikat fabrics are generally 15.7” (40 cm) to 23.6” (60 cm) wide. Handwovens, free of the chemical additives and stresses of power-loom production, are vastly different in appearance and feel from machine-made fabrics. Plainweave ikat fabrics, due to the unique resist patterning, look the same on both sides of the fabric; there is no right side and wrong side to the cloth. The Uzbek ikat typically has a 2” to 3” solid border along each selvage.

These Suzani's are fabulous, and I've noticed in a tonne of design magazines lately that people are using these beautiful textiles for bedcovers or wall-hangings. Another history lesson anyone?
Suzani's are antique decorative tribal textiles made in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakstan an other Central Asian countries. The name comes from the Persian word Suzan which means needle. Suzani's were traditionally used as coverlets for the bridal bed, and were made from cotton or silk cloth, with a meticulously hand-embroidered silk thread. This needlework would start at the birth of the daughter, and would continue with the help of family and friends until the bride's dowry was complete.
I will try to post some photos of modern usage or interpreations of both Ikats and Suzani's.

1 comment:

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