The Navoi lyceum/boarding school of fine and applied art was established in 1998. Major subjects include drafting, painting, composition and applied art: ceramics, ornamental art, embroidery, gold embroidery and stone carving. Lyceum/boarding school students participate not only in the republican-level contests, but also in international ones. They represented the national art in Czech Republic, America, Turkey, Japan, Slovakia, India and other countries. The lyceum places big emphasis on the revival of the Nurata school of embroidery that is known far beyond the boundaries of our country. We offer our readers an article authored by the director of the lyceum.
Nurata embroidery excites keen interest among researchers of local embroidery schools that evolved by late 19th century in Uzbekistan. In suzane decorum very important is the unfilled space of the background, which gives sophistication and exquisite beauty to the whole composition. Nurata embroidery is also distinctive by the originality of designs and patterns, the completeness of composition structure, high quality workmanship and harmony between the pattern and framing of edges with khoshiya strips. Nurata embroidery of early 20th century – suzane, takiyapush, joinamoz, sandalpush – is very rare nowadays. Many samples have not survived, and some were taken outside the country and disappeared without trace.
Nurata inhabitant Khairiddin Ismatov keeps a suzane embroidered in the 1930s. The base is light-coloured fabric, presumably linen; its dimensions are 275 х 200 cm. The ornament of the suzane is embroidered with silk filaments in yurma technique (crochet needle and in some places ordinary needle is used).
The embroidery composition consists of eighteen round floral rosettes; four of them are positioned in the upper part, four in the lower part, two at the side and eight rosettes in the central part.
Open parts of a field around the principal rosettes are filled with smaller circular-shape flowers. The central part of the suzane is embroidered with large white, deep-blue, yellow and red flowers. Careful examination of circular rosettes reveals that they picture the flowers of almond and carnation, which testifies to good imagination and refined taste of women-masters of embroidery.
Between larger rosettes there is a pattern called bandi kord (knife handle – A. K.); it separates one rosette from another.
Another work from a small private collection is a suzane created by R. Fozilova: she used green fabric (300 х 230 cm) and coloured filaments called muline. The edges of the suzane are embroidered with awl in yurma technique. Also here, along the edge, there are two rows of obi strips 25 cm wide crafted with deep-red filament. The distance between parallel obi rows is 30 cm. The embroidery field features 22 circular rosettes: the lower and upper parts have eight rosettes each, and three at each side. On the inside part the obi strip is repeated, giving the suzane a rectangular form. Along the central obi there are eighteen flowers (three rows of six). Large flowers in the centre are surrounded by petals forming a ring – this device is characteristic of Nurata school.
Large rosettes are embroidered with silk threads of four colours. This multicoloured-ness makes the suzane composition exceptionally harmonious and reflects the original local features. The embroiderer skilfully employs the four main colours and their shades (red, reddish, deep-blue and light-blue, yellow and yellowish white), achieving rich transitional hues. In total there are 40 large rosettes in the suzane.
Compositionally, rosettes and petal rings at different sides are proportional and equidimensional; rosettes on the left and on the right are of the same colour, which sets a certain rhythm for the pattern and fills the item with certain symbolic meaning.
The third suzane is embroidered on golden fabric (300 х 250 cm) with muline filaments of different colours. Composition-wise it is similar to the second suzane described above. The difference is that in the centre of the large rosettes there is an X-shape ornament and flower “shadows” on the sides. Small flowers in it resemble elements of Russian embroidery. In their form and colour the flowers and leaves are disproportionate and chosen without taste or the sense of proportion. Against golden-yellow background of the suzane, filaments appear lacklustre and inexpressive.
Only a century ago embroidery occupied a special place among different items of art used in everyday life (suzane, takiyapush, joinamoz, borpush, sandalpush, etc.). With time, demand for these items of folk and applied art began to recede and their place was occupied by “European” goods. This caused significant damage to embroidery, both in terms of quantity and quality. However, old embroideries have a number of important characteristics that distinguish them from contemporary textiles; these properties are as follows:
- In the past suzane and other embroidered items were made on coarse cotton fabric – white, pale-yellow and straw-coloured textiles, and only silk filaments were used;
- Taking into account that embroidered items had long service life, silk threads were properly treated and dyed exclusively with natural pigments, which were very durable;
- Serious attention was given to the harmony of colours in embroideries; even special places were identified where special fibres of a filament made of certain part of silk cocoon were to be used;
- Traditionally, guldasta and leaf wreaths on a suzane represented the idea of abundance and beauty of nature; these designs were embroidered with special care and attention;
- Serious attention was given to compositional integrity, design as a whole and the translation of local originality and peculiarity.
With time the quality of embroidery, including suzane, began to deteriorate; this tendency could be observed not only in Nurata, but also in Bukhara, Shakhrisabz, Urgut, Tashkent and Fergana.
Art historian G. L. Chepelevetskaya who studied the art of embroidery and its schools for many years, noted: “While ancient suzane show guldasta embroidery of 43 colours, suzane of later periods feature disconnected seven doira circles. Embroidery of identical vegetable patterns appears on red fabric. These 19th century Nurata embroideries differ dramatically from decorative needlework of that period” (1).
Characteristic features of embroidery of a certain area depend on local artistic and technological peculiarities, as well as on the personal style of the masters. Nurata embroidery not only represents the excellence of folk art, but also testifies to the exceptionally high level of traditions that have been preserved till present day.
- Chepelevetskaya G. L. Suzani of Uzbekistan. Tashkent, 1961.