Posted by Chuck Wagner on 09-24-2005 11:36 AM:

Some reference images

Greetings all,

Age determination of Central Asian embroidery work is a very difficult task without almost prohibitively expensive laboratory analytical work. For any of us to try to judge the age of a piece is rather a subjective exercise, so I thought it might be useful to post a few images of pieces that are considered to be of significant age.

These are scans from a book entitled: "Keshte, Central Asian Embroideries, The Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf Collection", with text by Ernst Grube.

In his comments, Grube notes (in one long paragraph, divided here by me)

"There are apparently only three dated suzanis recorded, which is not a large number, but still they provide the possibility of placing, at least in time, some groups of these embroideries.

Particularly interesting is that one of them, a rosette-patterned piece, carries an early 18th-century date. Of the other two, one is only mentioned, without date or any reference to its whereabouts, by Jakob Taube; the other, in the Museum fur Volkerkunde in Berlin, is dated at the beginning of the 19th century.

So it may perhaps be reasonable to say that most of the pieces in the Collection here published would almost certainly have been produced between the early 18th century and the beginning of the 20th.

We have therefore included no dates in the Catalogue section, as we have equally dispensed with attributions to specific centers of production".

And so, it is highly likely that these images are from pieces produced prior to 1900. Here are the images:

Chuck Wagner

Posted by Filiberto Boncompagni on 09-24-2005 12:09 PM:

Hi Chuck,

Thanks for the wonderful images. Van Gogh would have loved them!



Posted by Rchard Farber on 09-25-2005 01:20 AM:

dear all,

there are a number of susanis in a scottish collection from the 19th cent.

there is also photographic evidence.



Posted by Chuck Wagner on 09-25-2005 06:38 PM:

Hi Richard,

I think that when Grube says "dated", he means it literally, rather than indicating that there is sufficient provenance to know the age of a piece.

Gisela Dombrowski (in "Uzbekistan: Heirs to the Silk Road" , edited by Kalter & Pavaloi) describes the three pieces with more detail:

"So far only three dated suzanis are known, one in a Tashkent private collection (Taube 1994:11), one dated A.H. 1146 (A.D. 1733/34; see Hali 78[1994/95],p.131) and one in the Berlin Museum fur Volkerkunde (ill.555). The latter bears a Persian/Tajik inscription at the lower right (ill.557):

'It was the era of Sayyid the Chosen, 1224 [A.D.1809]'

Emir Sayyid (Haydar) of Bukhara ruled from 1800 to 1826. If we take the date as referrring to the year of manufacture - and no other explanation would make much sense - then this piece represents a very early suzani from Bukhara"

These are scans from that publication showing illustrations 555 & 557.


Chuck Wagner

Posted by Richard_Farber on 09-27-2005 01:04 PM:

dear mr wagner,

thank you, i did misunderstand. actually pieces brought into europe by various means -- think of the spoils left by the turkish army at the gates of vienna -- importated pieces etc are to my mind a good scale of understand the change of design and technique in oriental textiles over the last centuries.

i have seen a fair number of susanis and other embroideries and pieces with dates in a cartouche dont come to mind.


richard farber

if the pieces were made for a dowery there would have been no need to embroider a date on them becuase the family would have known for which wedding they were made and by whom

Posted by Chuck Wagner on 09-28-2005 11:16 AM:

You Wish

Hi Richard,


if the pieces were made for a dowery there would have been no need to embroider a date on them becuase the family would have known for which wedding they were made and by whom

Not many husbands can get through married life without She Who Must Be Obeyed pointing at some dusty moth-eaten homemade handicraft that the husband is about to throw in the trash and having the year, month, day and time of its manufacture, weather on that day, and what was for dinner that evening, remembered at him at high volume. But when it comes to items passed down through the family, made by grandparents, great-grandparents, etc., such information is lost except for the inscriptions.

For that reason, I'm surprised that we don't see more inscriptions on Central Asian embroideries & weavings. It makes me wonder if far more than we would care to admit may have been made for trading purposes.

By the way, there's still time for you to post a few more images of your embroideries within the salon...


Chuck Wagner

Posted by Richard_Farber on 09-28-2005 01:22 PM:

dear all

this is a piece of silk with a sewn on yellow fringe . . .? ?the colors are vibrant and image natural.

was the piece made as a scarf . . .? i dont know but it sure is functional as one now.

is it central asia or perhaps persian i dont know

any opinions


richard farber

as to mr wagners question about why there are not more date inscribed embroideries . . . i think this might have something to do about how the people of central asia viewed the question of antiques.? i am quite sure that there was not a western elevation of the importance of age to a functional or decorative object.