Silk embroidering was available for majority of women in Central Asia. Popularity of embroidering is explained by historical traditions and customs. People embroidered mostly for marriage preparation, as different embroidered goods were included in compulsory part of bride's dowry.
Dowry usually consisted of "runjo-joypoosh" -embroidered bed sheet for newly wedded couple's bed, "suzane" - wall decoration, "tankpocoon" - big bed sheet for bath, "sachek" - decorated towel with embroidered ends, "boogjama" - big square coverlet for wadded blanket, "boogcha" - coverlet for keeping clothes, "choy halta" - bag for tea making, "belbog" - fiance's belt, "roomolcha" - handkerchief, etc. Clothes were also decorated with embroidering.
Later, domestic art schools were created in accordance with embroidering peculiarities and traditions on different territories. There were some centers of art sewing in different regions and towns: Bukhara, Sharifkhan, Vabkent, Gijduvan, Nurata, Urgut, Shakhrisabz, Djizzak, Tashkent, Pskent, and Fergana.
Art school of handmade silk embroidering of Bukhara was most famous of all schools. Embroidering of Bukhara school was one of the most impressive and beautiful in Central Asia. Main feature of that school was professional usage of tambour sew (one of the embroidering ways) and it's multicolor.
The main theme of pattern is round pattern. It can be separated on concentric rounds, sectors, stars, etc. Usually rounds are decorated with leaf garland. There is a knot frame (wavelike vegetable leafs). Besides that, it's different for colors, sharp combination of soft colors.
Multiple facts about textile producing can be found in documents of middle age writers (Istara, Ibn Haukal, Narsahi, etc). They tell about superiority of cotton and wool fabrics, made in Merv, Bukhara and Samarkand. From these and other documents it's clearly seen that embroidering was made on cotton fabric of white color - "carbos byas" and sorrel color - "malfa".
First, for big decorative embroidering low-quality half cotton and half silk fabrics ("adras" and "shoyi"), blue, pink, yellow, orange, violet, green colors fabrics were used. Later, high quality cotton and silk fabrics were used for embroidering. Embroidering was made with silk, wool and cotton threads, painted with natural paintings. Threads were mostly painted with vegetable paints, which were very colorful and firm. Paints recipes were made in big secret.
"Isparik" (yellow color) was made out of dried filed flowers. Another way of getting yellow paint - was out of rhubarb's roots. For getting black color pomegranate's or onion husk or tea was used. One of the vegetable paints was "marena-ruan", which was used for printing patterns on fabric. To make "ruan" "morena" roots were put in boiling water. That procedure gave red color. This paint was put in warm place and brought to fermentation. After that, paint became yellow. Dark-velvet and purple-red paints for silk painting were made out of the "bakale" ("bakale-fernan" in Russian) - beechen Brazilian tree. There were 2 kinds of "bakale" - "kizil" (red) and "kora" (black). These colors were used for silk and suede. "Lajuvar" - azure was brought from rocky Badahshan (Tajikistan territory). In Bukhara 3 kinds of “Lajuvar” we used - deep blue, sky-blue, green-blue. Fabrics were painted in different kinds of blue and green.
Threads were also painted using "indigo" - Indian plant. For stuffing patterns on gray-fabric, vitriol and alum were used. In the beginning of 20 century aniline paints were used for painting threads and fabrics. But this lead to deterioration of quality of embroidering –paints. They faded under sun. But new paint added contrast and color to embroidering, gave it new features of modern times.
In art embroidering, foremen from Bukhara used many technical means. Sews and details sections were of particular importance. Big surfaces of decoration were filled with one-sided smoothness "basma", two-sided "durua" and were made by special needles. And as a result of this work with little tambour sew "urma" with "bagiza", the effect of color enrichment was achieved.
Sew chains "urma" were often used for bordering, contour and pattern separation. The forewomen from Bukhara are used to combine above-mentioned ways in their technology. In different centers of embroidering art, main attention was brought to exact sewing technique and it created it's different and unique styles.
Bukhara forewomen mostly used "urma” sew. Forewomen from Sharifkhan, Gijduvan and Vabkent regions were most famous. The difference was in the technical sews they were using. You can see a lot of rainbow patterns in their work -"afar", "urma", "chindahael", "kandahael" and "daraush". In Sharifkhan goods were made by "urma", "kandael" techniques and in Vabkent and Gijduvan -"bosma" and "urma" techniques were mostly used.
There are most common kinds of decorative patterns in embroidering that was made in the region:
A) With separation of central field of pattern border. Such composition of embroidering can be found in all embroidering of Bukhara region.
B) Rhombus net - "tobodonn", consist of shoots (there are flower patterns in its' cells.) This compositional pattern can be seen in Sharifkhan embroidering.
C) Rappoport - with continuing vegetable themes, situated in horizontal lines. These compositions are typical for Gijduvan embroidering of beginning of 20th century.
D) With central beam-like, big, round rosette. This composition was used by
Bukhara embroidering forewomen.
Compositions of bed-sheets and coverlets for newly wedded couples -"joypoosh" and "ruydjo" were made in 2 ways:
A) “I” like, framed from 3 sides, except for the lower part, which was sewed with special border.
B) With separation of arch from 3 sides with wide sewed frame.
Compositions of all praying carpets are the same. Special arch - "mihrab" that oriented praying person to Mecca (sacred place for all Muslims) was separated and was framed from 3 sides.
Compositions of pillow-cases -" taknalush" were based on symmetric line. Big plant with symmetric branches on both sides was always embroidered on central field. This compositions created volume-like flower plant - "gool-bumta" or tree - "gool-darahf.
Compositions of tablecloths - "dasturhon", coverlets for "sandal" (national table), kerchiefs - "rumol", handkerchiefs - "dast rumol", men's belts - "belbog", mirror bags - "oyna-halta", comb bags - "shona-halta", bags for papers - "juggir" can be separated into 2 parts:
A) Usually corners of fabric were embroidered with patterns and borders were embroidered
with pattern frame.
B) Central fields and borders were embroidered with pattern frame, it was concluded with velvet from opposite sides. As an additional elements, flower patterns, round made in rosettes, leafs, etc. were used.
From ancient times embroidering showed ideas of people about nature and life. In Uzbek embroidering the main theme is nature - flourishing gardens, flowers, etc. The roots of traditional themes and forms of suzane can be found in fabrics of ancient times and in wall paintings of early middle-age time (Varahsha, Pyiajkent, Puykent).
When it comes to psychological and visual perception, the Sharifkhan and Gijduvan embroideries were famous for their softness and tenderness of colors. Warm and soft colors were in harmony on gray fabric of dim and yellow colors. It transferred good mood to spectaculars. Embroidering with light-green, lily, blue-green, crimson colors, rosettes and flower motives expressed poetic and holiday spirit. If background of suzane was colorful, special colors were added to create new type of threads.
Embroideries of Vabkent and Gijduvan schools were characterized by brightness and dynamical color selection.
At the end of 19th and in the beginning of 20th century Uzbek embroideries, still keeping its old traditions, became more widespread and embroidering technique became ruder, colors became sharper. Handicraft fabric -"karbos", which was the base of embroidering, was substituted with factory made fabrics - silk, sateen, chintz and adras. After Bukhara Khanate became a part of Soviet Union in 1920-30th, embroidering received powerful impact. As a result of deportation of huge amount of craftsmen, objecting to new authorities, handmade silk, karbos and adras disappeared.
After that, new embroidering became smaller and was made with "muline" threads. Instead of handmade suzane, new suzane were made using chain stitch machine.
After becoming independent in 1991 many kinds of lost handicrafts were restored. Nowadays exhibitions became one of the most widespread and popular cultural events of Uzbek people. Old traditions, craftswomen schools and old embroidering techniques are now restored.
Big part of embroidering now is used as decoration of Uzbek houses, women's and kid's clothes, bedroom's, sofa, beds, kid's beds accessories.
Craftswoman Zukhro Allaberdieva in Sharifkhan, Marhabo Aripova and Dilbar Khalimova in Bukhara, Abdullo Nazrullaev in Gijduvan and many others opened their centers and workshops of embroidering.They are working to restore embroidering traditions of Bukhara, Gijduvan and Sharifkhan schools of embroidering.