Christine Brown on Uzbek Clothing: Part 2, Material in the Room

This is the second of two posts on this Christine Brown, Textile Museum Rug and Textile Appreciation Morning program on Uzbek clothing. 

If you have not read her lecture, it would be best to do that before going forward with this post.  Here is the link to it:

Christine had asked for, and folks had brought into this session, a variety of material.  We have looked at a few of these pieces in the virtual version of her lecture.  But there was more and the purpose of Part 2, is to show you this additional “in the room” material.

First, a number of coats had been brought.   The image below is of the first of these.

Here is a closer look at this ikat fabric and design.  Notice that the material has a visible sheen.  This was produced with an egg solution applied to the ikat after it was woven to produce this effect.

Although Christine’s presentation focused sharply on Uzbek clothing from the perspectives of sex, ethnic group and social position, it might be good to say a word or two here about the more technical aspects of such ikat fabrics and garments.

Central Asian ikats are a warp-faced fabric with the patterning silk warps held together by woven cotton wefts.  These ikats were produced in settled settings and required the cooperation of members of as many as 13 different specialty crafts.  There were ikat designers, those who drew the design on the warps, producers of hot and cold dyes, specialists in resist dyeing, loom builders, those who arranged and rearranged the warps on the loom, and those who wove the ultimate material.  The fact that many of these crafts were organized into guilds and populated, largely, by different ethnic groups, meant that the completion of a tradition piece of silk ikat was a kind of miracle of of ethnic and occupational group cooperation.

Here is a look at the lining of this first coat.

At least two different Russian commerical cottons have been used in this lining.

A second coat was of the paranja variety, grey with long false sleeves.

As you recall from the lecture, the paranja is worn draped from the head rather than from the shoulders and is for that reason a kind of veil, albeit a comprehensive one since it covers the entire body.

Here is a view of the inside of this paranja.

Notice that a Russian cotton has been pieced with a dramatic edging of silk ikat in this coat’s lining.

This silk ikat coat resembles the first one above but has some slight differences in its designs.

The next coat seemed more like the khalat variety.

A smaller, light-weight coat with an ikat design in brilliant colors.

The image below, which you saw in the lecture, shows its short sleeves and how its lining is pieced.

The next piece is another ikat coat.

A closer look.

A front view.

Part of its pieced commercial cotton lining is visible.

The next coat was another of the shorter variety.

Again, a rich ikat design.  Below, a closer look.

Below is a look at the lining of this coat.

Two different Russian commercial cotton patterns have been used.

The next coat, below, was another ikat example.

Its lining looked like this.

Again, one color-pattern combination is used for most of the lining but another striped one is used at the edges.

Another ikat coat followed.

Its lining.

Still another ikat coat.

A closer look.

Inside it looks like this.

The next ikat was predominantly purple with less range of color than that seen in some of the other ikat examples.

A closer look.  It is quilted with a light batting.

Its lining looked like this.

There were a couple of other coats in the room.

There was also a rich, plain purple coat, also quilted with a light batting.   Here it is, below, from the back.

A closer look.


The image below of its front gives us a peek at part of its lining.

The next coat was the one below.  It was heavily and dramtically embroidered and had short sleeves.

Here is a closer detail.

There was also an embroidered vest in the room.  I only have the image below.

There was, also, a similar embroidered coat with longer sleeves.

The next coat was an ikat velvet.

Velvet ikat was one of the truly sumptuous fabrics produced in Uzbekistan.  Here is a close detail of this one.

Notice the edging of this coat and its vents.  Below, is the dramatic inside of this coat.

This coat is lined with Russian cotton, but the inside edges seem to be pieced with a different non-velvet silk ikat.

There was an opulent contemporary embroidered coat in the room.  It was modeled.

Another view.

A very striking piece.

Someone had a child’s dress that was decorated prominently with shells and metal items.


A closer look at a detail of this dress.

A great many shells and metal decorations are sewn into this dress.

The image above shows the lining of this dress.

Here is a close-up of the metal decorations.  Notice the coin-like items at the bottom edge.

Shells like these seem sometimes seem to function like money in traditional Middle Eastern and Central Asian societies.  Saul Barodofsky sometimes says that prices quoted on pieces with shell decoration were often $1 per shell.

Christine said she was pretty confident that this child’s dress was made in Pakistan.

We saw a coat of velvet ikat earlier; someone had also brought a panel of ikat velvet.

I am not sure, but I think this may be a contemporary piece.  If so, this means that, despite the fact that the complex social structure that supported the production of ikats in the 19th century no longer exists, these velvets, seen to be the richest of the generally opulent ikat fabrics, are still being produced sometimes on some basis.

In Christine’s lecture we saw that Karakalpak wedding costumes are very elaborate.  We had an embroidered sleeve fragment of a Karakalpak wedding dress in the room.  Here is the image below.

A closer look at a detail of this sleeve fragment.

Christine talked about bands and belts in her lecture and we had a variety of bands, some of which were likely belts.  We saw a group of them as lecture examples.  But it might be useful to look at them in more detail here.

Here is the first grouping on the front board.

A close-up of the band on the far left in the group above.

Below is a closer and clearer image of band second from the left in the grouping above.

The band below is the third band from the left in the group image above.

The image below is a closer one of the belt fourth from the left in the group image above.

The image below is of the band on the far right in the group image above. It has the same design as the belt second from the right in the grouping above. It seems to be part of a complex that may have included a purse.

There were some other bands in the room.  Here, below, are two more.

Below is a closer view of a detail of the one on the left in the image above.

A second closer detail image below is of the one on the right in the two-band image above.

The last band in the room was one that I didn’t successfully take that day.  But since I own it, I took it after.  Here is its image below.


A closer view of a section of it.

I can say this because it is mine, but I wonder whether the simpler designs and what seems like a distinctive color pallete, suggest that this piece is younger.  Some experienced folks have indicated that they are confident that this band was used as a belt.

Although Christine focused sharply on Uzbek clothing, her title for this “rug morning” seemed to allow for non-clothing Uzbek textiles and some of the latter had been brought in.

The first is the striking embroidered Uzbek horsecover below.

A closer look at this piece.

An even closer look at the embroidery.

This horsecover has a rather simple striped backing material.

One person said that while the existence of Uzbek textiles like those seen above, and of pile items that were usually some sort of bag, is certain, questions have sometimes been raised about whether there were any Uzbek rugs.  This person said that he had an actual Uzbek rug.  It is captured in the image below.

This attractive pile rug has a “hatchli” design seen on many engsis (door rugs).  But it is so large that it would need to have been for a very large tent.  It seems more likely that despite its suggestive design that it was woven for floor use. 

Here is a closer look at a detail of its field.

A close-up of a detail of one of the border sections.

Another person had brought in a complete flatwoven Uzbek khorjin set.

Here is a detail of the lower front part of this saddle bag set.

Also a detail of its back.

I want to take you back to the first image in Christine’s lecture that shows the last ikat item to which she drew attention.  It is the contemporary ikat scarf she is wearing.

You can see that Christine likes it and it is, in fact, a very attractive textile.

Christine took questions

her well-done program on Uzbek clothing came to an end, and the audience moved to the front of the room. 

“Hands on” is one of the unique features of these RTAM programs.

I hope you have enjoyed Christine’s interesting “rug morning” program.  My thanks to her for her permission to share this session with you, and for her work with me  preparing this virtual version of it.  A large thanks also to Aija Blitte, who helped enormously with a late proofreading and editing.


R. John Howe

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