The Chapan and the Chyrpys
Bringing us along on your tour is a real treat. As a general observation, I'm glad the V & A, like most European museums (and unlike most American museums) allows photography and the use of flash. We had a Salon or two about museum practices, and I never saw any sensible justification fo the prohibition of flash photography in museums.
Back to the exhibits. Their chyrpys are very beautiful, but I was struck especially by what I guess is a chapan.
From its form and length, it could very well be a chyrpy with the false arms detached. No matter, whether it's a chyrpy or a chapan, it's unlike anything I've seen. Central Asian chapans are usually done in ikat, chyrpys are of the same genre as the ones they show. This chapan looks more like an embroidered rendition of urban carpet designs. I assume that it is an urban product (as the ikat chapans are), rather than tribal works, which is how chyrpy are generally regarded.
I'm pretty sure this qualifies as a chapan. The top of the sleeves on chyrpys generally begin right at the side of the neckline; on a chapan there are real shoulders between the neckline and the top of the sleeve - that's what we see here. Good question though - I didn't copy the descriptive text word-for-word so I don't know exactly how the museum described it.
Now for the good part - these next images are from Kalter & Pavaloi, "UZBEKISTAN Heirs To The Silk Road"
These are equally spectacular chapans, both estimated to be from Shahr-i-Sabz and both latter 19th century. They are both embroidered using the cross-stitch technique. For what it's worth, I like the palette of the V&A piece the best - note to V&A - Steve can give you my email address should it ever be decided to uncollect the piece.
The V&A chapan/chyrpy
Out of the nearly 1,000 chapans and chyrpys I've seen in my lifetime, this piece is probably the most beautiful and exciting. In my opinion, it is a unique piece, probably made for a high ranking personality. The designer must have been the Uzbek or Turkoman equivalent of Van Gogh!
Now I know where my first stop will be on my next visit to London!