The Great Embroideries of Bukhara

Five Medallions
probably 18th century

184 x 285 cm (6ft 1in x 9ft 4in)
silk embroidery on a cotton foundation

'Unique' examples

Three further Large Medallion suzani can each be broadly related to certain of the design types A-J but are sufficiently different in specific features to be excluded from them. Of course, as this is very much a traditional art form, it is always possible to identify slight differences from example to example in the selection, positioning or style of particular ornaments, and indeed it is this variety that sets one example apart from another and demonstrates that they are individual works of art. However, these suzani, with their so far 'unique' compositions, are more likely to belong to other compositional sub-groups of which there are more examples waiting to be found.


plate UE2

Russian Ethnographical Museum, St Petersburg, inv. no. 9872-23801, acquired in the early 1940s.

Formerly: Dshkov Museum, Moscow. Published: Hali, 1, 2, Summer 1978, p. 128 (cited).

The example in the Russian Ethnographical Museum in St Petersburg has an extraordinary composition. As with types D, E and J and suzani UE1, it is dominated by the border. Yet all those other suzani seem tame and restrained when compared to the boldness of this design. The large central medallion and the gargantuan flowers that surround it seem to be part of the same single field, and the enclosure of the medallion - by a pattern of gold spiralling within an octagon formed by a continuous leaf stem - seems less significant. From the points of the octagon extend the characteristic wide stems with buds along their edges, but here the spaces between these buds, as well as between the three stems on one of the long sides, are filled in, rather in the manner of E5 and F2. A single wide multicoloured band divides this monumental image from the narrow outer perimeter, which is composed of inward- and outward-facing side-view flowers separated by diagonally placed leaves.

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