Bukhara’s Gold Embroidery
Epithet “gold” often sounds in the poetry devoted to and celebrating Bukhara. Gold embroidery must have played a great role in it, which gloss and beauty from the old times boggled imagination and decorated the dwelling houses of the Bukharians.
In Bukhara, the art of gold embroidery applied to costume design has centuries – old traditions. Written sources informs on existence of the gold embroidery from the 14th century, and in its own turn, ornaments and colors of wall paintings related to the 6th – 7th centuries prove that gold embroidery had already existed in the Early Middle Ages.
Gold embroidery had reached its blossom in the 19th century. It decorated the costume of rich citizens. Emir’s court did orders to big workshops, which had a copious supply of materials. At the same time a palace workshop subordinated to the ministry of finance – office of divanbeghi operated there.
Today, brilliant samples of gold – embroidered dresses from the 19th – 20th cc. can be seen in expositions of the State Museum of History of Uzbekistan, the State Museum of Arts of Uzbekistan, the Museum of Applied Arts of Uzbekistan, the State Museum of History of the Temurids (Tashkent), Samarkand Museum of History and Culture named after A. Ikramov. The rich collection of the costumes is at the Bukhara State Art and Architectural Museum – reserve. These samples have been preserved as wonderful monuments of culture created by previous generations, which harmonically combine an original form and originality of embroidery art.
Gold embroidery represented well – developed craft for men. Masters worked sitting on the floor covered by a cottonwool mat. The goods were embroidered on special wooden carcass in a form of a rectangular frame. Especially interesting are Bukhara’s dress robes – zarchapans, which gold embroidery amazes by decorative and ornamental variety – each robe was a unique piece. Bukhara’s emir and aristocrats wore just such robes. They sewed also so – called gift – robes, which emir gave as a sign of his favour; they were in a list of ambassadorial gifts.
A cut form of the gold embroidered male robe was traditional – tunica – shaped, wrapover and very monumental. It was capacious and rather long with long sleeves. Such robes were expected to make impression of super excellence.
Gold – embroidered robes were sewed from local or imported monochromic velure of different colors – blue, red, burgundy or green. The embroidery was done by metallic threads – kalebatun – very narrow and thin strip of metal or beaten thin silver wire, sometimes gilt, tightly put around silk or paper thread. From old times, gold symbolized the sun light and immortality and therefore was very popular in high spheres. Besides metallic threads were used colored thrown or not thrown silk, appliques from velure and silk, relief rosettes – qubba and qubba olmaci made of gold threads and imitating jewelry adornments. Threads were put onto a fabric by parallel lines and were fixed with silk or paper threads.
In embroidery art of the 19th century wide spread was a technique of zarduzi zaminduzi, which provided all – over embroidery of a fond. In the 20th century, a technique of zarduzi gulduzi had developed – the elements of a pattern were cut from a thick paper or cardboard, put on a fabric and were covered by a gold thread. In the case of zaminduzi a gold thread is put on a ground made of thin braids.
By the 19th century, three basic forms of gold embroidery compositions had formed – they are daukur, butador and darham. Ornamental gold – embroidered edging – kur going on a perimeter of front sides, edges of sleeves, edge and medallion on a back of male and child robe as well as of military uniform forms a basis of daukur composition. The edging often is very rich and has original ornamental decor. Medallion – tauk on a back is rather big and filled by floral stylized pattern. The rest surface of a robe is free of embroidery. In military uniforms – kalyuchi the ornament sometimes was embroidered in a form of circles – nishon (insignia), which occupied places in lower corners of front sides and on the breast.
Compositions of butador and gulduzi provided stitching of separate patterns over the fabric surface; for example, small flowering bushes, which were identical and set at a distance from each other. In darham composition the ornament represents uninterrupted pattern, elements of which either touch each other or form a net. In all cases, the ornament is framed by the edging – zekh, in a form of figured plait running along the outer edge. The edging, in its own turn, is decorated by narrow festoon strips – obi poncha, and internally it is decorated by figured seams – margula, sedona, qungri and others.
Ornaments of gold embroidery are eminently rich and various. They combine both floral and geometrical motives. Geometrical ornament included in a group of zaminduzi has many variants, beginning from straight lines and zigzags up to intricate compositions like ghirich. Floral ornaments include pictures of leaves, flowers, burgeons, bushes, bines, scramblers, etc. They enrich the ornaments in compositions of butador and darham made in a technique of gulduzi. Some patterns are of zoomorphic character what sounds in their names: chashmi bulbul (an eye of nightingale), zaboni gundjeshak (tongue of sparrow) iloncha (small snake) and others. Some elements are going from the nature or cosmogony’s concepts. Such are qubba (small dome), mokh (moon), sitora (star), nishon (circle) and others. Virtuous are calligraphic inscriptions, which were located within the edging of separate compositions.
The female gold-embroidered dresses were also produced. They were lighter and clinging. Popular were Bukharian gold embroidered weskits, which women wore over a dress. The dresses were decorated by band “peshkurta” representing gold – embroidered strip of 110 – 120 cm in length and 8 – 10 cm in width, bisected lengthwise. Its free edges were put together and seamed inside along the edge of a collar and straight cut on the breast. In the ornament of peshkurt prevailing are geometrical elements formed by lines, circles, rectangles, rhombi, triangles and trapeziums. Floret motives consisted of flowers, leaves and small branches. Often geometrical motives combined with floret or zoomorphic. Patterns of peshkurt in general play a role of protection. A name of each pattern usually corresponds to a subject being its prototype. Such are bodom and chalabait in Bukhara’s band.
Great attention was paid to decoration of headwear, among which the most spread was tyubeteika. A specific Bukhara’s type of this headwear is gold-embroidered tyubeteika – kallapushi zarduzi, a component of the aristocrats’ costume, later becoming an obligatory element of wedding dressing and the costume of a boy on a day of circumcision.
A form of tyubeteika is usually round or square; in decoration prevail vegetal motives, rarer – geometrical ornament in a form of circle, rhombus, etc. In the 19th century prevailed the technique of zarduzi – zaminduzi; at the beginning of the 20th century – zarduzi – gulduzi. The masters liked to add small metallic domes – qubba. Each detail of ornament was done separately, what gives to ornament a light prominence and play of tones within one colour. Brattishing causes the play of light and shadow, so creating additional decorative effect. At the end of the 1940s, N. Aminov worked out the pattern “tous” (peacock). A bird with magnificent tail is easily inscribed in a circle, and fair – curves and bird’s forms revoice this geometrical figure. A silhouette is done by all – over embroidery and contoured by satin stitch. In 19th – 20th cc. the women from khan’s midst wore, mainly, kaltapushak decorated by gold embroidery. It represents a round soft cap consisting of front band, bottom and plait – case in a form of rectangular oblong case, through which they get hair.
Gold embroidery of floral (islimi) and geometrical (yulduz etc.) ornaments decorated peshonaband – a frontlet. The frontlet was low, soft and tight fitting. From expansive female headwear the wives and daughters of aristocrats wore at the end of the 19th century is known telpak – gold embroidered cap with furry band – kunduz and with high conical or round top. The top was made of colored velvet, all – over embroidered by floral ornaments in the technique of zaminduzi. Male gold embroidered caps existed too.
In the museums have been preserved few samples of male, female and child boots – mahsi with bootlegs, without firm heels on the soft leather soles. They wore such boots over shoes – kaush. Male mahsi were longer than female. Bootlegs were made of colored velure and decorated by gold embroidery in the technique of zaminduzi. The ornament was usually vegetal. A liner was made of adras and the other local fabrics. Now, along of revival of national traditions and crafts the art of gold embroidery is recovering. Gold embroidered male robes became an obligatory element of groom’s wedding costume; they are worn on festive occasions, are given to honored guests, etc. Female short and long weskits, tyubeteikas, mules, belts and bags are often gold embroidered. Now, mainly women are engaged in this art. As before, monochromic velure of bright colors is a basic material, what gives showiness to the clothes made of it. Gulduzi (flower ornaments) and zaminduzi (all – over stitch – putting) still remains the most spread. New gold embroidery’s seams are permanently created; now there are more than forty different seams. The traditions of gold embroidery art are carefully transferred from generation to generation. This art has inherited a huge treasury of ornamental motives having numerous variants and bright decorative properties. A goal of modern masters is to use this rich national art heritage, including museum collections, and on this basis to create new patterns.
Author: Larisa Levteeva