Tag Archives: uzbekistan

Stitches and Loops: Suzani Embroidery in Central Asia

Vintage Kazakh Suzani

It all started a long, long time ago. Sewing is the oldest of the textile arts, beginning in the Palaeolithic era. Before spinning yarn and weaving fabric were even imagined, Stone Age people across Europe and Asia sewed fur and skin clothing using bone, antler or ivory needles, and thread made of various animal body parts such as sinew, catgut, and veins.

Very inventive and resourceful! Here’s another example of sartorial ingenuity: in ancient Japan, traditional clothing was often sewn together with loose chain stitches that were removed so that the clothing could be taken apart and the assorted pieces laundered separately.

From being a necessity, sewing eventually evolved into an art form, in the shape of decorative embroidery for homes and garments. Over millennia, decorative embroidery came to be valued in various cultures worldwide. Stitching methods originating in different cultures are known throughout the world today. Some examples are …

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The Enduring Suzani

Suzani from Tashkent

No single artefact can represent the silk roads, their legacy and the Arastan journey, better than a Suzani. Arastan seeks out beautiful products with stories that often began on the fabled Silk Route. The suzani is one such perfect story of an enduring craft that has forever bound into every stitch and motif the hopes, aspirations, dreams and fears of its makers who lived in what was perhaps the harshest landscape in the world. See Arastan’s selection of vintage and new suzanis, or read on to discover more about the  culture and traditions behind this wonderful craft.

Suzani is a common term for embroidered dowry pieces (coverlets for the bridal bed, but also for made to decorate horses, tables, walls) produced for hundreds of years by the nomadic and settled women of Central Asia. Its roots are believed to be in the Fergana Valley that spreads across eastern Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan …

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Mumbai, you are Incredible!

You came, you saw, you bought and I thank you. I feel elated. There is nothing quite like ‘making it’ in your home town. The gentleman who owns the gallery that hosted us said to me quite emotionally “you have made my gallery look so beautiful” and lots of customers were very appreciative of the exhibition and the carpet collection. We will certainly be back.

Putting the show on was the easy bit. Octroi was not. Only Ethiopia and some cities in the state of Maharashtra still charge Octroi (a local tax collected on various articles brought into a district for consumption). The documentation in our case was tedious as we had to pull out not just invoices but customs duty for every individual item. However they seemed happy with the paperwork and accepted our demand draft for the deposit (although the shipper refused to take the demand draft from …

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Never forget the e-sugam!

Moroccan Carpet

I knew this could happen so have been diligent about sending an e-sugam form to my vendors so there is no hassle when the goods enter Karnataka. I forgot to do this for my Uzbek ceramic consignment (yes the one I ordered in February finally arrived in December – at least it got here in the same year) being sent by the clearing agent in Delhi. My phone rang at 6:38am and I was told by a Sales Tax Officer that my goods had been ‘abandoned’ at the check post at the airport as the documents were incomplete. I needed to come with the invoice, e-sugam and pay a fine of 3 times the actual VAT. When I said that sounded absurd (I am not very articulate without my first cup of tea, but even in that state I thought 3 times was ‘extravagant’) he made it 1 times. I …

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More Postal Woes

Missent to Indonesia

Following on from our Indian Speedpost issues, we recently received some samples in the mail from Uzbekistan, sent using the normally reliable Uzbek Post, which took an interesting route to India!

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Day 2: Shopping in Istanbul

Tree of Life

I had arranged to meet someone who was to introduce me to several vendors and we started at 9:00am little realising we would be on our feet till 9:00pm! A long but very fruitful day.

We started by meeting a master craftsman who is famous for making Sikke hats and has made the ones for the tomb of Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi (‘c’ pronounced as ‘j’ in Turkey) in Konya. I discovered that feltmaking is actually quite difficult as it involves opening up the wool, laying it out with the end object in mind, applying just a touch of soapy water and then rolling it in reed mats. The end products are very impressive and I now have my eye on both Turkish and Kyrgyz felt for the Arastan collection.

We also met several carpet vendors. Turkey has always been a trading point between the East and the West and the …

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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.

    You can read about the reasons for closure.

    You can still browse some of the products we used to have via the category links above, although none of these are available for purchase.

    Relive our travels and stories by browsing our articles and archives from the menus below.

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