The national costume of the Samarkand women at the end of the 19th – 20th cc.

Issue #3-4 • 3043

The history of the Uzbek national costume testifies that it developed and modified much faster under influence of the urban culture in the large centers of Uzbekistan – Bukhara, Samarkand, Tashkent and others than on the periphery. In Samarkand, the permanent contacts of the Uzbeks and Tadjiks and mutual influence of their cultures were reflected in the traditional costume.

The economic and cultural contacts of Samarkand with the other cities, especially with Bukhara and Tashkent, also promoted the new forms and elements of the female costume. The traditional female costume consisted of capacious dress, trousers, overclothes – munisak, veil, robe, headwear and footwear. The daily and ceremonial clothes did not differ in the cut. However, the ceremonial costume was more expressive in the color, texture of the fabric and ornamentation to accent its ritual purpose.

The female costume was sewed from home-made silk and cotton fabrics: striped alacha, bekasab, adras, etc. Samarkand was one of the oldest weaving centers. According to historian Narshahi, in the 10th century, the Samarkand fabrics were salable in such countries, as Syria, Egypt, Khurasan and Byzantium (1, p. 29-30). According to Babur, in the 15th – 16th cc., Samarkand was famous for the special sort of the expensive fabric – the crimson velvet (2, p. 69).

The manufacturing of many fabrics has been suspended until the 19th century. Only in the mid-19th century, the Samarkand weavers restarted the manufacture of home-made fabrics. At the beginning of the 20th century (1912), 237 silk-weaving workshops operated in Samarkand, while in Bukhara were forty six workshops and in Karshi – only nineteen (3, p. 48).

The Samarkand fabrics of the 20th century had much in common with Bukhara fabrics in the texture and decorative style. For example, the original large ornament and color (mainly, crimson, mauve and lilac colors), which were typical of the Bukhara school. Circles, squares, rhombuses, hexagonal rosettes, S-shaped motifs and others formed the ornamental compositions on the local fabrics. The imported fabrics were also used for the female costume along with the local fabrics. The silk and colored velvet was brought from Bukhara, the yarn and raw silk -from Shahrisabz. Later, the import of Russian fabrics increased.

The women paid attention to the color of the fabric, choosing the clothes. The young girls preferred the red tones. The red color was the symbol of love, fertility and holiday. For example, in India many brides put on the wedding costume of the red color. The middle-aged women preferred the fabrics of the dark blue tones. The old women chose blue, and the oldest women – the white color. From the ancient time, the white color was considered as a symbol of purity. According to Najm ad-Din Qubro, the white color was a symbol of “clarification” in the Sufi tradition. Only after achievement of purity and honesty, the murid could take the way of “tariqah” (4, p. 20). The prevalence of the white color in the clothes of the older persons could be probably connected with the ideas that the person should have been purgeed of sins before “to leave for the other world”.

The female capacious dress, similar to the male shirt, occupied the important place in the set of the female clothes. In the course of time, it obtained new details (a collar, yoke, etc.) and lost its original form. Nevertheless, the dresses of the traditional cut had remained until the early 20th century. The Samarkand dress differed from the Bukhara’s in the sleeve, tapering downward (the width is about 20 cm). In Bukhara, the sleeve was wider twice in order to wear several additional shirts under the dress comfortably. The side details, rectangular or cross-cut, were sewed under the sleeves. We can not agree with O. Suhareva, who considers that the dresses initially were rectangular and only later, by the 20th century, they had become cross-cut (5, p. 200). We think, the side parts of the dresses were cross-cut already in the 13th century, and in the course time they became rectangular. The Chinese traveler, Chang-Chung wrote: “The Samarkand shirts, both male and female, are sewed from the thin woolen fabric of the white color. They have the sleeves and remind the bag – narrow in the upper part and wide in the lower. (6, p. 240-241).

The collar of the female dresses varied depending on the fashion. The dress of traditional cut – “kurtai peshkusho” had a vertical neck, cut down to the waist. The collar was absent, and the vertical cut was buttoned in the middle (earlier it was fastened with the bands). In the 1930s, only the old women wore peshkusho. Disused as the daily dress, such dress continued to serve as the ceremonial for a long time. In the 1890s, the dresses with upstanding collars (bugmak) and vertical cuts became fashionable. Later the upper edge of the collar was decorated with small pleats or ruffles. In Samarkand, this fashion had existed until the 20th century.

“Munisak” (minsak, mursak) represents the original kind of overclothes. In spite of its almost identical pattern with the robe and shirt, the munisak never had a collar and the side details under the sleeves were always pleated. Beside Samarkand, the munisak was used in Tashkent, Bukhara, the Fergana valley and Khorezm. The Samarkand munisak (it was called “kaltacha” in some districts) differed by the big number of pleats under the sleeves. The pleats occupied even the part of the back, due to which the back looked narrower, and the female figure – slimmer. The munisak is a pure female cloth, having no analogies in the male costume.

Earlier the munisak was worn on holidays, and at the end of the 19th century it became a funeral cloth. In Tashkent, the munisak came into disuse at all and was used as a cover for the dead (7, p. 51-52). In this way, the thing obtains another function, losing the initial. These are the comments of L. Underova in this regard: “Sometimes the costume turned from the usual daily thing into the ritual, as if moving from the field of tangible culture in the ideological and obtaining the status of the spiritual value within a ritual process – the holiday, rite or family celebration” (8, p. 15). The headwear as a component of the female traditional costume brightly reveals the ethnic features of this or that people.

The tyubeteika and scarf were the most widespread in Samarkand as well as in the other regions of Central Asia at the end of the 19th – the beginning of the 20th century. However, the most ancient turban-shaped headwear was “loki” bearing the archaic features, confirmed by the archaeological data. For example, the terracotta figurines from Afrasiab. One of them wears the headwear reminding a turban. The loki consisted of several elements. The first was the small cap with the plait-case (kuluta). The cap had the band from fabric and the small top. The sleeve-shaped detail serving as a case for two plaits fell down at the back. The turban was put above. “Lyachok”, a piece of the fabric was bound under the turban and hung down under the chin.

Until the second half of the 19th century, the sallya was used as a daily headwear. Gradually, it turned into the holiday article and later came out of use at all. The sallya was put on for the ritual of “sallya-bandon”. The major female headwear became scarves and tyubeteikas. The female headwear was composed from one or two scarves: the first, formed as a triangle, covered a head, the second was bound above as a frontlet. Such headwear could be seen on the Tashkent women. When Russia conquered Central Asia, Samarkand and Bukhara were separated by the border. The regions of the Turkistan General-Governorship had taken the place of major trading partners instead of Bukhara. The contacts with Tashkent were especially important for Samarkand. Tashkent became the style setter (5 p. 10). The composition of two scarves was borrowed probably from the Tashkent Uzbek women.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the girls and young women began to wear the round tyubeteikas. Before, the maiden headwear was the small cap – tupi, having a small round top and a high band from a diagonal strip. The female tyubeteika was fully embroidered in the technique of yurma homduzi. Another variant of Samarkand tyubeteika was tyubeteika, made in the technique of piltaduzi. To obtain the ribbed surface, the masters inserted the rolled strips of paper or cotton wool (piltaduzi) between the top and lining along the stitches. Such tyubeteikas are made also by the Boysun people (Surkhandarya region) and by the Uzbeks- Loqai. Decoratively, the Urgut tyubeteika differed from the other local tyubeteikas. The pattern was located centrically, and the background was dark.

The female footwear was similar to the male. These were the same ichighi on the soft sole – mahsi and leather kaushi (galoshes). Earlier the ichigi were made from the black goat leather with the heels from the green shagreen. It was the durable footwear – “kairoki”. The local bootmakers – kafshduz lived in the quarters of craftsmen (for example, Kemuhtgaron, Attoron, Sangtaroshon, etc.). The traditional Samarkand jewelry, as well as Bukhara’s and Tashkent’s, consisted of pendants, filigree and openwork, looking very light and exquisite. Silver and gold, precious and semiprecious stones, such as the coral, nacre and turquoise were the major materials. The works of the Samarkand jewellers bear traces of Bukhara influence as Bukhara was one of the largest jewelry centers.

Almost all kinds of jewelry: tilla-bargak, tilla-kosh, gajak, tavk, marjon, kukrak tumor, zebi-gardan, nozi-gardan, earrings and bracelets were the obligatory components of the dowry. They served as protective amulets for the brides and young women. Tilla-kosh (gold eyebrows) was from this group. It consisted of the massive metal plates, which imitated a line of bent eyebrows with petal-shaped pendants, fixed along the lower edge. The upper detail was formed by the openwork plate decorated with the stones. Tilla-kosh was known in Tashkent, Kokand and in Bukhara. This adornment without the openwork plate was called as bolo-abru. D. Fahretdinova noted that the upper details of some “tilla-kosh” reveal heraldic compositions, including anthropomorphic, zoomorphic and vegetative motifs. It has passed the long way of transformation. The semantics of many symbols was forgotten and they turned into pure decorative elements (9, p. 99-101).

Another female frontal – tilla-bargak (gold leaves) consisted of the square plates decorated with the rosettes with corals and turquoise and the small leaf-shaped pendants along the lower edge. The Khorezm manglai-tuzi is considered analogous. The presence of the motif of leaves was not casual, as from the ancient time they symbolized the life and regeneration of the nature. The pectorals of the Samarkand women – zebi-gardan and nozi-gardan were similar to the Tashkent’s and Bukhara’s. The Samarkand nozi-gardan consisted of the central medallion and four square side plates made in the technique of filigree. The Bukhara masters used the enamel for the side plates, and the vegetative pattern on the dark background looked contrast. Hafaband and murgak (tavk) were obligatory in the wedding female costume. Tavk consisted of alternating cast birds, which heads were turned to the right, creating asymmetry. O. Suhareva considers that the tavk appeared in Samarkand at the beginning of the 20th century, and the technique of figure-casting was not traditional for local jewelers. We can not agree with this point of view as the sources of this adornment are traced in the cast bronze pendants-birds on some necklaces. They were found near Samarkand (Pendjikent) and date to the 5th century A. D. (9, p. 132). The motif of the bird was connected with the ideological views of the people. “The bird, – noted L. Rempel. – is a symbol of the universe and nature, which contains both physical and spiritual world in the aspect of human feelings and concepts. Each epoch and each field of applied arts has its own artistic language of forms” (10, p. 31).

The Samar-kand women, like the women of Central Asia in general, wore bracelets – bilaguzuk. They were made mainly in the techniques of filigree, bosma, niello and embossment. Summarizing the above, we could note that the formation of the traditional costume of the Samarkand women was influenced by the political changes, cultural and economic contacts with different ethnic groups. The traditional female costume was being transformed within the urban culture and obtained new appearance.

Author: Binafsha Nodir

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