Bukhara, Margilan, Namangan, and Kokand were and are the centers of Uzbekistan decorative weaving crafts. Today these workshops are renowned for the beauty of hand-made silk fabrics all over the world. Сenturies-old traditions of hand-woven silk and cotton fabrics have been an essential part of national clothes, culture, and interior.
It is worth saying about ancient traditions of hand-made silk fabrics, which are called the Ikat in the West. This name came from Indonesia and originated from the verb “mengikat”, which means “to bundle”. It is a very ancient way of creating designs in fabric by resist-dyeing the threads before the fabric is woven. In Uzbekistan, such technique is called the abrband, which in Persian means “tying a cloud”, and the fabrics produced by such a method are called “abra” fabrics.
There are some legends about the origin of such techniques. One legend states that once an artist sat by a fast-running stream. The stream reflected the clouds and changed their form. Suddenly sunrays were fractured and became a rainbow which was reflected in the stream. The artist saw a picture of clouds playing with colors. He painted that picture and showed it to weavers who then transferred his picture to fabrics.
Later the word abr (which means cloud) was used as the name of the process of dyeing base threads in traditional fabrics, so fabrics were named abr-fabrics and weavers were called abrbands. Uzbekistan silk fabrics had their own names: shoi, khan-atlas, atlas, podshokhi. These types of fabrics were produced from pure silk. The fabrics made of cotton weft and silk warp was called adras, bekasab, pasma, banoras.
Ikat patterns were noted by its diversity; each school of silk weaving differed by their local artistic peculiarities. Patterns were named after shapes they resembled. The most wide-spread ornaments were “tumorcha” – amulet, “tarok” – comb, “gadjak” – jewelry, “bodom” – almond, “darakht” – tree, “anor” – pomegranate, “Oy” – the Moon, “shokh” – horn, “chirog” – lampad, “ilon izi” – snake trail, “kapalak” – butterfly, “chayon” – scorpion, and etc.
Modern ikats also were made in the shape of traditional Uzbek jewelry including drop earrings and triangular-shaped pendants (tumor). When a young Uzbek woman got married, she was expected to wear jewelry, which represented the wealth of her family. It was said that if a woman could not walk due to the heaviness of her new jewelry she came from a wealthy family. However, jewelry was expensive, and a wedding ceremony without jewelry was considered shameful, so to solve this problem, people began to buy ikats with patterns representing jewelry.