The Great Embroideries of Bukhara
Michael Franses

Textile & Art Publications

 Please click on the illustrations to view full images and extracts from the text

A12 (detail)

  The hand-embroidered covers presented in this superb new publication are among the most beautiful objects known from the high period of the art of needlework in the former Central Asian Emirates of Bukhara and Kokand, the areas known today as the Republics of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. They are known as 'suzani', derived from the Farsi word for 'needle'. The oldest examples can be attributed to the eighteenth century - although they may in fact be older - and the tradition continued into the early twentieth century. Each embroidery formed part of a suite made by a bride and her family as dowry gifts. Weddings were significant events in the tribal society of Central Asia, representing the binding together of two people and two families.

It is impossible to say exactly who created these embroideries, because many different tribes lived in the region, but it was probably settled societies rather than nomads. Although suzani were made in tribal environments, they cannot comfortably be categorized in Western terms as either tribal or folk art. Their designs are extremely sophisticated and have evolved over hundreds of years. They are neither wholly naturalistic nor wholly abstract and carry the symbols of an entire culture. Such weavings were among the most important media of artistic expression for the peoples of Central Asia and constitute a tradition that can be traced back to very ancient times.  

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A6 (detail)

  The Great Embroideries of Bukhara is devoted to one particular group of suzani that were made in and around the city of Bukhara in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. These extraordinary works of art are distinguished by their huge central medallions, which provide an explosion of colour and form. Many of them are amongst the largest suzani extant, and the effect that they create is of an extremely powerful and graphic artistic image. They are amongst the most exciting and beautiful Central Asian embroideries known, and it is not surprising that they have become known as the 'Great Embroideries of Bukhara'.
Their bold primitive strength makes them quite different from most other textiles, and they evoke the widest response from viewers. Some regard them as lacking some of the elegance and charm of the more usual Bukhara suzani, but many more admire them for their powerful qualities, and consider them to be the outstanding examples of this branch of the textile arts. Today over fifty are known, and the new corpus of material has presented the opportunity to review this magnificent group in greater depth.  

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  This important new publication will certainly be invaluable to collectors and connoisseurs of textile art as well as to designers and architects. The publication comprises fourteen large format loose leaf colour plates of selected Large Medallion suzani, with another eight huge life-size colour details, accompanied by a separate bound volume with duotone illustrations of almost all the known examples and a text by Michael Franses that provides a general introduction to suzani and discusses this spectacular and important group of textiles in detail.

Published by Textile & Art Publications Ltd, London
- large format boxed album of loose leaf colour plates and bound catalogue raisonné
- high quality colour reproduction on art paper
- custom-made box, 456 x 356 x 40 mm (18" x 14" x 1")
- 14 loose leaf colour plates plus 8 life-size details, 425 x 650 mm (17" x 25")
- 104-page softbound catalogue raisonné, 270 x 200 mm (10" x 8"), with 20,000-word text by Michael Franses, and 70 duotones plus 16 colour illustrations

ISBN: 978-1-898406-35-8

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Textile & Art Publications
Unit 4 Heron Trading Estate, Alliance Road, London W3 0RA, England
Tel (44-20) 8896 3238



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