It seems that just about everywhere we look Suzanis are popping up. The term Suzani means “needlework”, specifically, exquisite embroideries from Uzbekistan in Central Asia. These genuine folk art textiles which are intricate, colorful and beautiful were originally stitched by hand by the women in small villages to use as bed coverings, prayer mats, table coverings, and wall hangings for their daughters’ dowries. With the end of the Soviet era, more and more Westerners began to discover this art form, and the prices of antique suzanis escalated.
With globalization and new markets opening, there has been a remarkable revival of this traditional art form, and we now have access to contemporary suzanis which are still stitched by hand in the traditional manner and which are available at much more reasonable prices. These pieces, along with genuine antique textiles, can be found through on-line sources such as Yurdan.com., through Atlanta based dealer and expert Maria Mallett: Textiles and Tribal Oriental Rugs, and through Tessara, a Houston showroom specializing in one of a kind, antique, and handmade products from around the world.
Dongia,Calico Corners,GarnetHill,Anthropologie,Today fabric companies are jumping on the bandwagon to reproduce this art form in amazing woven and printed textiles as well as in jacquard adaptations. These can be found from the high end Dongia (one of their suzani fabrics retails for $370/yard) to mainstream stores like Calico Corners, Garnet Hill, Anthropologie, and even Target. This pillow from Garnet Hill is only $58.00. These adaptations which are much more versatile and are often shown in unexpected and updated colors, make excellent choices for upholstery, bedding, and decorative wall hangings.
Graceful floral motifs, often large scale, are dominant in Uzbek suzanis – both in nineteenth century pieces and in modern ones. Old traditional abstract forms such as palmettes, rosettes, and pomegranates, along with the occasional bird or fish, may appear.
So, when you are on the look-out for a suzani to start or add to your collection, you should be able to find a gorgeous antique or a beautiful look-alike to suit any budget.