“Modernity of Tradition. Uzbek Textile Culture Today”: Monograph Review

Issue #1 • 1648

Kamola Akilova,
Art Critic

Traditional culture of the Uzbek people and, particularly, traditional arts and crafts have always stayed in the focus of researchers, both local and foreign. Specific attention has been given to traditional textiles, including their manufacturing and design, as well as their use in making apparel and household items.
A monograph, “Modernity of Tradition. Uzbek Textile Culture Today” (Munster, Waxmann, 2013), by a group of authors with Gabriele Mentges and Lola Shamuhitdinova as editors, is the result of a two-year research and academic project titled “Modernization of Tradition: Uzbek Textile Heritage As Cultural And Economic Resource” that was implemented by German researchers from the Technical University of Dortmund and the Textile Department of Institute of Culture and Material Arts in Dortmund together with their Uzbek colleagues. The Uzbek party in the project was represented by the teaching staff of the Tashkent Institute of Textile and Light Industry, the Behzad National Institute of Arts and Design, the Andijan Institute of Engineering and Economics, the Bukhara Institute of Food and Textile Technology, and the Natural Fibre Research Institute (the city of Margilan).
The project objective is to assist universities in Uzbekistan that train textile and light industry designers in renewing their academic curricula for selected disciplines and in exploring and mastering new teaching methods in line with European academic standards in this domain. The project brought together professionals in a variety of fields: silk-related technologies, apparel design, ethnography, information technology.
The “Modernity of Tradition. Uzbek Textile Culture Today” monograph is interesting in many respects. Its title already suggests a departure from the usual standards. Rather than ‘Traditions and Modernity’ – the term often used in domestic art criticism, it offers ‘Modernity of Tradition’, which in principle shifts the emphasis in the researchers’ approach; and it is not just about traditional Uzbek textile, but more about the culture of the Uzbek textiles today. Each of the collection’s authors focuses on different issues related to the chosen area of study.
Thus, in her introduction to the monograph, Gabriele Mentges reviews different aspects of the textile heritage as they evolved. The article by Lola Shamuhitdinova, “Iqat in all its manifestations: a new wave of popularity”, exposes an important role the abre textiles played in economic, political, social and private life of Central Asian societies. The author notes that “the world abre” also produced a strong impact on the development of Russian avant-garde art.
Matters related to the abre textile manufacturing technology are covered in articles such as “Heritage and Knowledge of Silk Technology” and “Pigments and Dyeing of Uzbek Abre Textiles” by Gulam Valiev and Ohunjon Akhunbabaev, “Silk Viability and Technology” by Halimahon Alimova, as well as “Technological Characteristics of Uzbek Textiles: a Retrospective Analysis” by Halimahon Alimova, Azamat Gulamov, Ulugbek Bobatov, Nargiza Nabijanova, Dilafruz Aripjanova and Lola Shamuhitdinova.
Issues of compiling an electronic database of Uzbek iqat are discussed in articles such as “Development of Electronic Database for the Central Asian Iqat” by Lola Shamuhitdinova, and “Iqat DNA Database: Technical Resource Overview” by Marcus Rempe.

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