Tag Archives: amir timur

Beautiful Iroqi Embroidery and the Ak-Saray in Shakhrisabz

Uzbek Chapan (Winter Cape)

Shakhrisabz for us was not about the town but insights into rural life through highly skilled but humble artisans. Much like India. We drove from village to village, stopping at homes some impoverished and some not. The village women are all familiar with the distinctive Shakhrisabz style of embroidery called Iroqi. Originally used for casual clothing for soldiers during the reign of Amir Timur and thereafter including for the Emirs of Bukhara. The name has nothing to do with Iraq but comes from the marching of soldiers and signifies closeness/tightness. The work is quite stunning and unlike other suzanis that use basma (filling satin stitch), biggis (hook stitch) and yurma (chain stitch). The stitch itself is one long thread passed along the length that is couched back upwards to the start. There are two different design directions used often together: counting style which is traditional patterns spaced evenly, and painting style that …

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Uzbekistan Beckons

Shılpıq, Karakalpakstan

Nisha and I are off to Uzbekistan on the 27th. Can’t believe it’s actually happening! Four months ago, I didn’t even know where Uzbekistan was and now, it’s like I have travelled there a million times on the virtual silk roads of our times. And that’s even before I’ve physically got there!

We’ll be crisscrossing the country in search of craft that flourished in the 13th century when, besides trade, artists and artisans met and interacted along the silk routes. It is believed that ceramists from China were summoned by the great conqueror Amir Timur to teach the potters of Fergana the secret behind their brilliant blue porcelain. The nomads that traversed the Central Asian steppes frequented the silk roads to trade their suzanis, kilms, jajims (tribal blankets) and carpets. Miniature painters from China would inspire royal painters of Central Asian dynasties to document the life and times of their …

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Day 9: Three Show Stoppers, ‘I am a Disco Dancer’ in Shakhrisabz, Rip-off in Bukhara

Lakai panel (red) - Nisha's favourite

The best thing about travel is that, every once in a while, you stumble upon a gem that was nowhere in your to-do list (in Nisha’s case, her to-buy list). We had a really good break when we literally bumped into a display of captivating ceremonial hangings from the Lakai tribe. As we looked at them we were quiet for a while (a rare feat for the both of us); they were so beautiful. The Lakai tribe has played a historic role as horsemen, fighters and brigands in Inner Asia for centuries. Women of the Uzebk Lakai tribes embroider hangings that are exceptional, bold and extremely hard to get. The Arastan collection now has three of these prized pieces (though Nisha says she is not parting with the red one).

Giddy after the day’s find, we decided to cancel our train tickets to Bukhara and take the road instead. We …

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Day 8: Ulugbek’s Observatory, Registan and a Search Mission for Calligraphy

Calligraphy from the artist Nisha hunted down!

There are such names in the world, which unwillingly lead people to the world of dreams. The magic and fame of these words immediately impact your mind when you hear or read about them. There is such a name among them that attracts our imagination to itself, it is SAMARKAND. It seems that this name emerged from the whirlpool of clear and diverse colours, the scent of perfume, fabulous palaces, bells of caravans, pure melodies and yet misunderstood feelings.

Federico Mayor (Director General of UNESCO 1987-99)

It was our last day in Samarkand. And we couldn’t agree more with the sentiment above. Samarkand (despite the overzealous restoration) had captivated us and one visit was just not enough to soak in its history, its towering monuments and the stories of warriors, kings and artists who defined this city.

We started the day with a visit to Ulugbek’s observatory. Ulugbek …

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Day 1: Valentine’s Day in Tashkent!

Amir Timur Statue

Zahid, our guide for the trip met us bright and early in the morning. He got the first whiff of what the next two weeks had in store for him i.e. two hyperactive women who believe that a day has more than 24 hours and hence want to do more than is humanly possible! We gave him a rather ambitious plan for what we wanted to do on Day 1.

As we stepped out, Tashkent on first glance was odd and sanitized. Old box-like Soviet style buildings, mixed up with new structures pretending to be grand give the city a rather confused identity. New buildings are coming up around the city in record time especially in the Amir Timur square area. The new International Affairs Center that came up in (hold your breath) just four months! Only 3,000 people worked on it – if only we could ship this efficiency …

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  • Welcome to Arastan

    Arastan was an online store that curated rare and handpicked treasures from exotic bazaars along the ancient silk route. Unfortunately we ceased trading in early 2014.

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