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3 February 2012 / leggypeggy

The textiles and carpets of Khiva (and the region) (16 photos)

Central Asian embroidery

Khiva was an important city on the old Silk Road, so it’s not surprising that some amazing textiles and carpets are still displayed there.

In fact after the independent republic of Uzbekistan was created in 1991, the country’s textiles—with their brilliant colour combinations and decorative motifs—drew plenty of interest from the international community, as well as fashion experts.

Suddenly, silk wall hangings, ceremonial robes and ikat fabrics from the 19th and early 20th centuries began to appear more often in private collections, galleries, museums and boutiques around the world.

The rich heritage of Uzbekistan’s traditional textiles includes Khan atlas (silk satin-weave ikat), suzani embroidery (needlework) on hand-loomed linen and cotton fabrics, zarduzi (gold embroidery) on velvet, and chitgari (block printing) on silk and cotton.

A Bukhara carpet

Oriental rugs and carpets are important too.

For many centuries, people from this part of the world have produced spectacular wool and silk rugs and carpets. Mostly they are meant for personal use or to decorate a mosque, but over the years many have come on the market. Sometimes they are sold to pay for a trip on hajj—the pilgrim journey to the holy Muslim city of Mecca.

Poor John and I didn’t shop much on this expedition—we’d bought quite a few carpets in the 1980s when we lived in Syria. It was fun to shop for carpets in Damascus. Back then, we could take one home and ‘live with it’ for a month or so to see if we liked it in the long term. That system worked, because I still like every carpet we bought at that time.

Central Asia uses many carpet and rug designs, which are often named after a certain region, city or person. In Khiva, we saw a lot of the well-known design—the Bukhara (also spelt Bohkara) pattern featuring oblong octagons.

In Khiva, Poor John and I enjoyed cruising through several museums and a weaving training centre that focused on textiles and carpets. I didn’t always know what I was looking at, so I can’t describe every image, but I hope you like the selection of photographs.

I also found an informative website that shows pictures and explanations on some carpet designs, how carpets evolved and how they are made, as well as a section on suzani embroidery.

Don’t forget to pick a number.

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Leave a Comment
  1. Louise M Oliver / Feb 3 2012 10:38 am

    Hi Peggy
    These are very beautiful indeed. The designs are so intricate, and the colours so rich and beautiful, that it’s easy to see how much work and patience go into each creation. However, if I’m not mistaken, I think I’ve seen at least one rug in your and Poor John’s home. Is that correct?

    Best wishes always


    • leggypeggy / Feb 3 2012 12:07 pm

      Oh yes, we have a few. Perhaps even a few too many. 🙂


  2. jeanleesworld / Jul 8 2017 9:06 pm

    Most impressive! I’ve always admired the intricacies of weaving, especially when I have utterly no patience for the loom. (I attempted a small one once as a child.) I notice red to be the most popular color. Is it the easiest color to create?

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jul 8 2017 9:24 pm

      Interesting question, Jean. There are plenty of carpets that feature green, blue, gold and silver. Makes me think I might be drawn to red. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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