Art On the Roads to Samarkand. Wonders of Silk and Gold

Photographer Olesya Okuneva

A splendid collection of unique works is on public display for the first time outside of the museums of Uzbekistan in the heart of Paris at Institut du Monde Arabe.

Several hundred pieces which immerse visitors in the history and ancestral know-how of a country that is a melting pot of millennial civilisations.

Sumptuous chapan coats and gold-embroidered accessories from the Emir’s court, painted wooden saddles, silver horse harnesses set with turquoises, precious Suzanis embroidered hangings, carpets, silk ikats, jewellery and costumes from the nomadic culture as well as than about fifteen orientalist paintings. All represented on more than 1100 square meters of the museum.

“On the Roads of Samarkand” magnifies the renaissance of artisanal splendours in the 19th and early 20th centuries, constitutive of Uzbek identity. Textiles, like the powers of the Islamic world, play a key role in this; Bukhara embroidery, in particular, occupies a special place among the many art forms of Uzbekistan.

It was during the Emirate of Bukhara (1785-1920) that gold embroidery reached its peak and its fame in terms of technique, quality and above all creativity. A number of splendid and monumental productions – chapans, dresses, headdresses, saddle cloths mixing colors and gold – reserved for the court and for diplomatic gifts were exclusively made in the private workshop of the emir and bear witness to his opulent art of living.

Many other pieces are to be discovered throughout the exhibition, offering a broader perspective of the society of the time, including the famous ikats and their anthology of colors, weavings resulting from ancestral techniques, and regional stylistic specificities from Khorezm, the Ferghana Valley or the Karakalpak region, where accumulations of jewellery extended the female wardrobe.

General curator of the exhibition: Yaffa Assouline, curators: Élodie Bouffard, Philippe Castro and Iman Moinzadeh with the support from Art&Culture Development Fndt.

On display at Institut du Monde Arabe from 23 November 2022 till 4 June 2023.

Press release by Institut du Monde Arabe.


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