18 May Suzani
“There are days when I think there really is some huge plan out there and we’re all woven into it – this fabulous, complex pattern of life and death, full of recurring motifs and waves of color, and we’re each one tiny thread in the weave.” -Jane Johnson
Suzani comes from the Persian word for “needle,” and refers to embroidered hangings or fabric coverings that are synonymous with the finest old embroideries of Uzbekistan, in Central Asia. The birthplace of suzanis is in what is now Uzbekistan, the area along the Silk Roads that interconnected the cultures of Europe, Turkey and China with the Muslim world. With the establishment of the Silk Road, the Suzani art flourished. In the 19th century, Uzbek women produced excellent embroidered hangings, table covers, bed covers, wrapping cloths, and prayer mats for their households and their daughters’ dowries.
In recent years, there has been a revival of this traditional art form. One of our favorite finds are these vintage Suzanis that we picked from a vendor with a great eye that travels to Asia several times a year to gather one of a kind pieces. At first glance I said we have to make pillows out of these! Part of what makes these so appealing is that no two are alike, and part of the charm is that the patterns aren’t perfect as they are hand embroidered.
We are always gathering interesting textiles when we come across them. From antique swatches to old feed sacks, that are re-born into pillows or unexpected upholstery, half the fun is the hunt to find them! Recently a customer brought in an embroidered remnant from a tea towel her mother had made. She said she wanted to make something out of it, but thought it was too small. Nonsense! We put it in the center of one of our embroidered pillows and voila! Old meets new and the customer was overwhelmed her updated keepsake. What have you done with your old embroidery?