Suzani

Detail of suzani

The term suzani derives from the Persian/Farsi word for needle, suzan, and it has come to refer to the large embroidered textiles that a young girl and her family members made for her trousseau in Central Asian oasis towns. The narrow lengths of handwoven fabric, often undyed cotton cloth (karbos), were first joined loosely and the design was drawn over the whole surface by a skilled draftswoman. Afterward the panels were separated and the bride-to-be, along with several female relatives, would embroider them with brilliantly-colored silk yarns. Finally embroidered lengths were sewn together to create the completed, larger textile.

Suzani were first used during the marriage ceremony and later at home as decorative elements such as wall hangings and bed covers. During the Soviet era, suzani began to be displayed in places other than the home—in public buildings and even voting booths. Throughout the twentieth century, girls continued to make suzanis for their weddings, although seldom with the very fine and intricate embroidery characteristic of those from the nineteenth century.