Friday, February 19, 2010

Suzani and Our 'Hood

Last weekend, on a cold and snowy day, my oldest daughter and I ventured outside to a friends' house, three blocks away. Armed with snow boots, scarves and my camera, we headed to A's house where a treasure trove awaited us.

We walked down our street.

At the first intersection sits this house. I've always found it suspicious. It's not a nice, new house, of which there are many in your neighborhood. But yet it's heavily fortified with barbed wire and has a questionable amount of communication gear sprouting out of the roof. And sometimes I see UN cars parked there.... just sayin'.

This is looking back on our street.

Our neighborhood is a mix of old and new. Old houses that have seen better days.

And newer ones.

And hideous I-wanna-be-Cinderella's-castle ones.

We turned the corner for the last two blocks to A's house.

We walked until we saw the telltale sign indicating that we were at the right house. The big nest-like good luck sign. No, it's not a bee hive. It's some sort of dried plant...or herb....or, um, something... But no matter, because it's good luck. Sort of like an upside down horse shoe.

Once inside the door, we walked into the traditional central court yard.

Once through the front door, our shopping trip was about to begin.

My friend A had arranged for a local seller of suzani to bring a large collection of suzani and other Tajik treasures to her home. Suzan means needle in Tajik and suzani are the traditionally embroidered quilts of Central Asia.

I took a suzani embroidery class for about two months -- before I dropped out -- and let me tell you, it takes patience, skill and a strong back.

Traditionally a design was hand drawn on a large piece of cloth and then cut into several long strips, which were then divided amongst several women in the house. Each woman would complete her section and then all sections were stitched together. This resulted in some wonky bits that make truly make these so endearing.

These two pieces align quite well.

And here, you can see the seam.

Suzani were all the rage a few years ago in the U.S. Lots of recovered chairs and ottomans. More chairs. And hung in various parts of the home. But here, in this part of the world, they've always graced walls, filled young women's hope chests and represented family as they are passed down from generation to generation.

So a dozen or so of us gathered at the ever-so-gracious A's house on a Saturday morning to sift through Tajik treasures, and drink her REAL coffee and eat her baked goods. Did I say she was gracious??

Here's a sampling of what was offered.

And here's what I came home with. Surprisingly, only one suzani. I was told by the seller that its meant to cover a stack of korpucha, which are futon-like mats that cover the floor or a topchan. But it reminds me a prayer rug, with its arrow-like motif on only one side. I'll have to investigate further....

This large cross stitched piece. Not sure where it was used, but I have the sister piece, so should I ever get around to it, I'd like to get both framed.

And these two men's coats. I love them! I have NO idea what I'll do with them, but I love their colors. They remind me of grosgrain ribbons. They make a fine winter robe, I'll tell you.

We paid for our goods, which were nicely packaged.

Gave our thanks and headed home. As we turned headed out the door, guess what came out of A's neighbor's door?

This gorgeous creature.

A buzkashi horse. Buzkashi is the ancient horsemen's game known as "goat catching". And its still played in Tajikistan seasonally. And Buzkashi season is getting underway. Separate posts on that are required.

Tajikistan; a mix of old and new.


Carpetblogger said...


Andrea said...

LOVE this!!! = ) I feel semi-famous, and very flattered. Thank you, Jules!!!

Anonymous said...

We love this too! Thank you for giving us a glimpse of life in Tajikistan. Now we appreciate our suzani all the more...
J P B and S in England (almost related to the gracious A)

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