“To tie a cloud”. What an image this phrase conjures. In the town of Margilan, in the Fergana Valley of Uzbekistan, one can find many artisans who “tie clouds”–ikat weavers who, over the past 28 years since Soviet rule, have revitalized their heritage textile making. This valley is the center of silk production of the whole of Central Asia. So changed is this country, that Uzbekistan is included in the New York Times 52 places to go in 2019. (Of course, the article didn’t note ikat among the reasons to go, but it’s the main reason I went last May.)
Recently, while viewing hundreds of photos I took during my trip, I chuckled when finding photos I had taken of ikat in use, ikat kitsch, everyday ikat—not just the exquisite artisan-produced fabric.
Bread, Always Bread
And then, there’s the food. Isn’t that another reason to travel? Every town has its own variation of bread.
And what about the surrounds? Such intricate mosaic work both bold and subtle. Dazzling.
While in Fergana, our group stayed at “The Ikat House”, a small traditional hotel owned by the ikat-producing family of Rasuljon Mirzaakhmedov. We visited the workshop of ikat master Fazlitdin Dadajanov where we saw the entire ikat process. We spent a morning at the colorful Kum-Tepa market where stall after stall was loaded with ikat. Another morning we toured the Yadgorlik factory seeing silk being reeled and spun from cocoons and ikat being woven on floor looms. Everywhere we visited, we were warmly met.
If any of these images leave you with textile wanderlust, ClothRoads friend Christine Martens still has a few spaces in her upcoming tour Sept 2-16, 2019. Plan a visit to this vibrant country and partake of textiles, architecture, and the traditions of Uzbekistan guided by Christine and Raisa Gareeva. Martens began researching the textile and traditions of Uzbekistan in 2001 and yearly trips continued in the Central Asian republics, Mongolia, and Xinjiang. Ms. Gareeva was the Central Asian foreign expert for Aid to Artisans in Uzbekistan, guiding artisans in the revival of traditions and honing of skills which had been forgotten during the Soviet era. For a full itinerary and to reserve your place, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like to read more from past blogs about Uzbekistan, Shannon Ludington wrote this ikat overview based on the eight years she lived there. And here’s a review I wrote of the Sacred Scraps exhibit, curated by Christine Martens.