Wall Hangings and Decorative Panels
I'll start this thread with a suzani (this should get Richard going) from Nurata, in Uzbekistan. It's not an old one, about 30 years old, but it's quite attractive and well done. Colors are subtle and the design is relatively uncluttered (no, really, I'm serious. You should see the busy ones). It was drawn on the cloth with a pen, and then embroidered.
Traditionally, suzanis are used on walls in an urban environment, and as hanging dividers in rustic or temporary (read: yurts) dwellings. More contemporary uses are as bedspreads, table covers, etc. This piecce was done by a woman named Nargiza:
dear mr wagner,
i surely agree that the embroidery is beautiful . . . .
and i believe that you might have some interesting information for us.
you wrote that you know the name of the embroideress [or perhpas she is the person with the kalam who drew the design ?? this might be possilbe too] do you know from an informant that this piece was done in around 1975? [thirty years ago]
if so i was under a false impression . . . becuase the new embroideries that i would see 25 years ago were garrish and synthetic and did not really attempt to go back to the 19th century roots -- this is why i would think that your embroidery is contemporary or nearly so --
this question is when did the people there attempt to recreate an earlier style -- i had thought that it was later -- perhaps just in the 1990's
your piece should age very well and really take on a good patina in a generation or three.
What abound the ground cloth as a clue to the age of these suzanis?
I read that old ones were embroidered on cotton or linen and the more recent are made on silk.
My two suzanis, of recent production, are on silk. Actually, the cloth has white cotton warps and beige-gold (very fine) wefts.
Do we know when they started using this type of fabric?
I had to go back and find the email containing the information on this suzani. For starters, you can subtract 5 years from the age; my recollection was incorrect. Here's the quote from the seller:
The name of the city of suzani is Nurata. This suzani has been made by women named Nargiza. The age about 23-24 years old.
I have had more extensive communications with the seller regarding other items, and Uzbek textiles in general. He has made several offerings that were represented up front as brand new production, so I am inclined to accept his statement that this is a 1980-ish piece.
I will ask him if he has any comments regarding your observations and post the response if he has anything to add.
Note that he uses women, not woman; because he's not a native English speaker, I don't know if that means a family, or a woman, named Nargiza. I'll ask about that as well.
For Filiberto, the ground cloth for this piece is two vertical strips of lightweight commercial cotton cloth, machine-stitched together.
I'm hoping that Richard has a few images for us; the Textile Quiz Salon has betrayed his collecting habits and I'm sure he's got other pieces he can show us (as do some others, I suspect).
OOOOPS! Just realized that I forgot a word...
Read my last post as:
Actually, the cloth has white cotton warps and beige-gold (very fine) SILK wefts.
Perhaps "The age about 23-24 years old." is the gir's age
Hi Chuck, Richard, All
I think Chuck's suspicion is in order. I was planning to post this silk ground (Lakai?) suzani after the disappearance of the 2-sided asmalyk from the screen; but I can't wait anymore. I had to take the Chuck challenge.
First, I too have something to say about the mysterious Nargiza. I suppose this is a variant of the Persian name Nargess which is the showy flower of the Narcissus plant. If she is 23-24 (Filiberto's guess) years old then maybe Chuck can arrange to post her image. Forget the suzani, she's still in her adolescence.
I will gladly post more images and information if there is any interest or query.
The ground cloth and the backing cloth can give indications of the age of a piece. I wrote about a little velvet with two niches just awhile ago and talked about this.
There were 19th century suzanis on silk and on karbos . .which is hand woven cotton cloth, and there is an occasional suzani on machine made cloth which still might well be 19th century.
Here are images of relatively early nim susanis (the half sized ones) on single color ikat.
Yes, Iíd like to know if the silk ground of your Suzani (very nice, by the way) is totally silk or has cotton warps and silk wefts like mineÖ Which I post again, for those who didnít see them a few months ago.
The second one - of the size of an handkerchief - has a particularity: only the dark red is silk, the rest of the colors are in wool.
From first glance your big suzani image looks modernish; but then you can see and touch it, so you should know better. The handkerchief though is very attractive. How old is it? The different red hues and the gold are so compatible. The motifs are nice too. I haven't seen any suzani with the two moonlike central patterns flanking the central roundel before.
You mentioned in your last post that only the dark red is silk; you are
lucky the handkerchief is in such good condition despite the wool threads. You may have noticed one of the reds (there are 3 juxtaposed hues) in my yellow suzani above. It looks as if it was partly worn out. This red is actually the only color embroidered with a woollen thread. All the rest are silk. This scarlet red thread was in fact edible. The restorer who worked hard to re-embroider this red (she is still working at it) found and showed me the culprit (one of them) who did all the damage. A very tiny overfed purple worm. I had to fumigate just in
case there were others.
I just hope the woman was working faster than the worm. As for your
Question about the yellow ground warp and weft:
The weft is 100% silk and I asked her to do the burning test on the warp.
The thread was consumed right away on burning which probably makes it also silk. But I have to do it myself when I next visit her.
The big red roundel is after reweaving the damaged (devoured) scarlet.
The back of the suzani is quite interesting because of the fact that they added this printed cotton plus another ivory delicate cotton (karbaas!?) to support the yellow silk ground, and then did the embroidery. The stitch is mostly tambour stitch. The suzani is probably
mid to early 19th century from the Shahresabz area .
No old aristocrats, here. Like Chuckís, mine are modern.
Both on a very similar cloth that looks machine-made.
The smaller one seems oldish, though. Twenty or thirty years, maybe. Thatís why I am interested in knowing since when they started using that kind of ground cloth.
Thanks for the hint on the wool-eating worms. Iíll store my suzanis with some camphor...
Hope it helps to keep the worms away.
in the case of uzbeck embroidery in the last years the quality has greatly improved since the end of the soviet era. greatly emproved . there was a return to natural colors and old techniques so in your case i would think that these embroideries were made after the end of the old soviet period.
Thanks. I see. So, in the case of modern suzanis, the younger the better, huh?
filiberto yes, in this case early 21st is much better than mid 20th
mr amir aharon, is there any wool thread in your piece, any crimson or red wool in particular ?
I believe that I did mention one red thread of wool in my last post to Filiberto.
I wonder why they had to use wool when all the rest of the
colors including two other red hues are silk. I do know that
this specific red dye was imported to central Asia from India
at the time. Was it because wool absorbs this dye better than
silk? I honestly have no idea.
dear all and mr aharon amir in particular,
the use of red woll in uzbeck susanie in according to Suchareva 1937 : 12
an indication of age . . . it was imported from india to central asia not early than the middle of the 19th cent. and disappered in the 1880's --
i would suggest than the dating of your piece than to the third quarter [or fourth] of the 19th cent. . .
why was it imported .. .it had a strong crimson like color. it was used vry often in the central area of the flowers.
is no one out there going to guess an age on the two nim susanis that i put on the site ????
n.b. there was a french colleague who would have been very happy to see the design of the botehs on the yellow ikat ground piece . . . perhaps someone who has access to his address would give him a "heads" up.
Well, Filiberto is right. Nargiza (it's a first name, not a family name) is in her twenties, not the suzani. I asked the seller to provide some clarification about the Nargiza question, and what he knows of age determination of suzanis. Here is his response, as received (his English is way better than my Uzbek):
When I have told you about Nurata Suzani I mean that the woman who made it named Nargiza, and her age is 23-24 years old. It' wasn't a family, just a one woman who makes an embroidery.
About dyes you are right the vegetable dyes began to use about 1990s, so now the colors of embroidery are very nice. The pure Silk foundation are usually specify that the age of the item is an early of 20th century, and the reagions Tashkent and Ferghana,
The home spun cotton foundation is usual for 18-19 centuries- it's really Old even Antique, and it has very many reagions, because it was all over the Uzbekistan. The ordinary cotton foundation , especially suzani with red color foundation are 1950 -60s. They used the Fabric of Tashkent textile comninate , which has been open in 1932 year.
Hope this inforamation will be useful for you.
It's good that his opinion regarding the recent vegetable dyed suzanis is consistent with that of everyone else. Obviously, I was confused by his initial response, but that's been fixed.
Also, for your viewing pleasure and following up on his remark about silk foundations, here's a pretty zardevor, from the Ferghana region, to look at. Zardevors are hung along the top of a wall in an urban environment and along the upper edge of a yurt wall. It's about 150 inches long and 32 inches high. Foundation is a very fine, very thin yellow silk, and is constructed from two long strips of silk (the upper quarter is a separate piece). The seller represents it as turn of late 19th - early 20th century.
beware of silk textiles in perfect condition that are said to be 19th cent.
silk does not age all that well. have a look at the backing of the two nim suzanis that i posted
may i suggest that the colors of the long suzani that mr wagner put on the site are probobly not natural colors . . . i know this type of color as "chrome"
i would guess that the piece in not older then the 1930's and could be a lot younger than that. . . .
might i suggest that steve or filibeto put up some of the images of mystery item number six from the attribution game that we played a few months ago . . and put the image of the "sardevor" susani next to it so that you can get an idea of the difference in the colors . . . .
about the suzani of mr aharon amir . . . . the dyed red wool was imported from india and not just the dye itself.
Here's the one from your Salon,
And, for comparison, Chuck's Sardevor,
one can well see the same tradition in the design of the flower sprays and of the concept of the colors -- banded colors on the leaves
single colors on the flower heads [or pomagranates] .. for my eye no problem in saying that two pieces are from the same tradition. . . the question then is what is the difference and that can be seen in the colors themselves . . . i asked steve price to put up a couple of closeups that were on the attribution game site
Here are three closeups from your Salon:
When someone tells me late 19th - early 20th century, I'm thinking anywhere from 1875 to 1925. Based solely on the dyes in the yarn, I figured that this is a 1920's piece. Another person, who has worked with old textiles in the conservation business here in the US, has looked at both of my silk foundation pieces (other pics coming later) said 1920's for both, based mainly on the presence of some rayon in the embroidery and the condition of the silk.
This piece is hardly in perfect condition. It is big, and the previous images don't really show the details very well. It has numerous stains, it suffers from some sunlight-related embrittlement, and looks to have provided many small but healthy meals to moths over time. Regardez:
dear chuck wagner,
might i suggest that you do some closeup of similar floral sprays .. so that the can be put side by side with the sprays form the earlier piece . . then design color and detail of the execution can be more easily compared
i think that this will help those of you who ask about how you "know" the age of a piece
i would have thought 1930 according to the pallet so we are surely in agreement . . i like you piece very much
and thanks to steve for posting the images
Here is a yellow silk ground suzani from the Marshall and Marilyn Wolf Collection---Keshte plate # 33
It has very similar motifs to the suzani I posted . The color palettes are almost identical. In the technical analysis appendix they write that the stitches are chain stitch variants, so is mine. The size is 215.9X175.3 cms., mine is 235X175 cms. The caption mentions 6 silk panels backed with printed cotton and edged with ikat.
It also says the embroidery is in WOOL. I wonder if they are speaking of the crimson red hue in the numerous tiny triangles of the central roundel and the main border star motifs, or ALL the rest of the colors. This is not clear from the appendix technical caption.
Maybe someone who's reading this post and personally knows the Marshalls can please ask them about the threads; whether they are all wool or just the crimson (the red wool from India which was mentioned by Mr. Farber).
I also wonder if they have encountered any wool-eating worms, or is this asking too much?!
'Redily' and 'Woolingly' Yours,
OK, here are closeups of the design elements. This will be a little tedious because I can't but them beside each other. Also, I'll note that the pattern appears to have been drawn with a quill pen of some sort, rather than pencil, marker, or ball point pen:
Now, the floral elements, in order from left to right:
And finally, the wreath form above the florals, and a shot of the back:
Here are some more illustrations of recent Uzbek suzani work. The first three were gifts from a dear friend who is also a dealer in antique textiles. They are each about 15" square, and were probably made during the past 5 years.
This one was given to us by someone who knows little about antique textiles, but does know that we collect them. It's larger than the others, and my guess is that it was made between 1960 and 1980.
The color reproduction is off, of course, but I think it's good enough to make it possible to see how nice the new work is.
dear mr amir aharon
in one of the close ups of the susani at the bottom of page one in this thread one can see a bit of the red indian wool left at the flower at the top of the spray
i am still waiting for the brave and silent to compare the two nim suzanis that i posted on this thread and venture an opinion as to relative age
Ignorance can instill a sense of bravery in an otherwise very cautious person, so, here's a guess at relative age for your two suzanis.
I think the one with the loosely woven white ground is older. I base this almost entirely on how the colors appear on my monitor; there is what appears to be a very bright green in the detail of the piece on purple silk that doesn't look like a vegetable dye to me.
Execution of the designs appears to be at roughly the same level of sophistication, so the design elements don't provide many hints. I can't really comment on the condition of the silk without handling it, but the backing looks like woodblock print, which would also be a late 1800's/very early 1900's feature (I think...).
Anyway, that's my guess.
Silk on silk
Here's the purple suzani I mentioned earlier. This one is from the Ferghana valley, and shows two features quite typical of textiles from this region of far eastern Uzbekistan. The design is simple and uncluttered. Also, the design contains symbols relating to an earlier time of mystical beliefs with a much closer connection to western China than have other suzani designs. Similar motifs are found on Kyrgyz textiles, not surprising given that Kyrgyzistan sorrounds much of the region.
The images are deceptive with regard to condition; the silk ground is quite fragile and will soon have a proper backing for support. There are numerous stains and repaired tears, and spots of fading due to exposure to sunlight. A person knowledgable on this topic places it in the 1910's-1930's, as was the yellow zardevor.
Here are the images: