Just what is a suzani, you may wonder.
I know this is a cooking blog but we all fell in love with these and they are very much part of a trip to Uzbekistan.
|a mind-boggling selection in a silk carpet and suzani shop in Bukhara|
If you live in Istanbul, you will have seen suzanis in the Covered Bazaar as they are everywhere, just more expensive than there. They are beautiful silk-embroidered pieces of cloth which are used as wall hangings or indeed table runners, table cloths or bedspreads depending on shape and size. There are also highly desirable cushion covers ranging in price from about 15- 25 USD. The vendors were more than happy to accept dollars which was fine but in the end we ran out and they didn’t accept credit cards much to our sorrow! Even in the hotel shop in Tashkent, where supposedly they did, my credit card was ‘invalid’. So if you go, take cash. Lots of it!
Price depended of course on quality. Our knowledge expanded in leaps and bounds as the trip progressed. Atlas? we enquired confidently, or Adras? Atlas is the premier quality as it is a mix of silk and cotton but a higher percentage of silk usually 70% to 30%. Adras is 50-50. This refers to the piece of material on which the embroidery is done. The work itself can be done either by machine or by hand. We also learnt to look carefully at the back: if there were knots it was handmade!
Another criterion was ‘hook’ or ‘needle’ with ‘hook being more expensive. We were just getting our eye in as far as this was concerned.
Bukhara, Central Asia’s holiest city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was the place although we saw them being sold everywhere we went. The choice was intoxicating and we all succumbed. First we went back to the chaihana where we had sampled the herbal teas:
|oh was he waiting for us!|
And then we visited the Summer Palace of Buhkara Khan:
A pleasant place, slightly crumbling, with the sound of peacocks in the background, we came upon the Harem building. Even though the Khan had four wives, he also had forty one concubines! There was a large swimming pool beside it and apparently he would survey his ladies from a tower and throw an apple down to the chosen one! But inside now it is a suzani museum with fabulous pieces hanging on the walls. The pictures here are of those. But what we didn’t realise was that it was also a shop! Here the quality stood out and we were spellbound by the pieces that we were shown.
|this must be ‘hook’|