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Translated by
Nicola Mira
Nov 21, 2022
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Paris to host “On the Roads to Samarkand, Wonders of Silk and Gold”, an exhibition dedicated to Uzbekistan

Translated by
Nicola Mira
Nov 21, 2022

The majority of the items showcased at the Institut du Monde Arabe (the Arab world institute) in Paris, for the exhibition Sur les routes de Samarcande, Merveilles de soie et d'or (On the Roads to Samarkand, Wonders of Silk and Gold), will be exhibited outside Uzbekistan for the very first time.

The “On the Roads to Samarkand” exhibition will be held at the Arab World Institute in Paris

Across an exhibition area extending over more than 1,100 square meters, visitors will be able to discover nearly 300 unique items, representative of Uzbekistan’s treasures. They include sumptuous chapan overcoats and caftans, gold-embroidered accessories from the Emir’s court, hand-painted wooden saddles, silver horse harnesses set with turquoise, magnificent embroidered drapery known as suzanis, carpets, silk ikats, typical jewellery and nomadic costumes, as well as forty paintings by avant-garde Orientalist artists.

The exhibition celebrates the rebirth of artisanal craftsmanship, an essential element of Uzbek identity, in the 19th and early 20th century. Textiles, like other powerful symbols in the Islamic world, play a crucial role: they grant unique status, they gratify and leave a strong mark in society.

Unique items decorated with, and even entirely embroidered in gold testify to the social and ceremonial importance of the Uzbek court: splendid, imposing caftans, dresses and headgear reserved for court members or used as diplomatic gifts. These were made exclusively in the Emir’s private workshop, evidence of his master craftsmen’s lavish creativity.

A chapan (1900-1904) in velvet and gold embroidery -Photo : Laziz Hamami.

The exhibition will showcase the art of Uzbek embroidery, symbolised by the stunning suzanis, embroidered silk drapery used to decorate the interiors of urban homes as well as nomadic dwellings. And the art of carpet weaving, bearing witness to the importance of woollen products made by the population of the country’s steppes and mountainous regions, blending aesthetic and practical purposes.

Finally, traditional Uzbek iconography and colours are featured in the renowned silk ikats, fabrics woven using a technique called abrbandi. These multi-coloured fabrics brim with an abundance of motifs, which are also found in other types of craftsmanship, like goldsmithery.

The exhibition is open until June 4 2023 and is organised by the Arab World Institute in Paris with the support of the Uzbekistan Art and Culture Development Foundation, which advocates international cooperation and promotes Uzbek culture worldwide.

In parallel, the Louvre Museum will be hosting the exhibition “The Splendours of Uzbekistan’s Oases” until March 6 2023.

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