- Yellow shirt – Target*
- Jeggings – Dish
- Blue ballet flats – Old Navy
- Plaid silk scarf – handmade silk Uzbek scarf
I kept the outfit simple today so I could show off my new scarf!
The colors of this madras-esque plaid are incredible (and all of my favorites!) and every color shines another color depending on how the light hits it. And the kicker? This handwoven, naturally dyed silk scarf cost me…$20!
I purchased it at a lecture I went to last week on the history and revival of Uzbek crafts. The guest speaker,Raisa Garieeva, an Uzbek business leader who was the director of the Aid to Artisans project in Uzbekistan, gave an incredible talk. She started with the history of the Silk Road through the arrival of Islam to the rise and fall of the USSR. The story is amazing. Bukhara, which is the focal point of Uzbekistan’s artisant rennaisance, was right in the middle of the Silk Road, so its citizens became expert dyers, weavers, embroiders, potters and painters. The region was especially famous for ikat, a type of dyeing, and suzani, an incredible style of embroidery.
The introduction of Islam to the region placed some restrictions on the images that could be depicted, but the artists were renowned throughout Asia, Africa and Europe. When Communist rule began, people were forbidden to practice their arts. Generations went by where most of the population did not learn to weave or sew or paint, and those who did remember had to practice in secret. The fall of the USSR left Uzbekistan in extreme poverty and as a country that had not had to govern itself for over half a century.
In her talk, Raisa remembered having no idea what to do to survive, and then she was given a book by a Peace Corps member on how to start a business. In the book was a list of reasons to start a business, and one of them was, “when you don’t know what else to do.” So she and others began working to revive the craft industry, and today people are able to support themselves practicing Bukhara’s traditional arts.. At the end of the lecture, Raisa proudly mentioned that the Santa Fe Folk Art Market normally accepts 2 artists/country for exhibition, but consistently accepts at least 10 from her group in Uzbekistan because their work is so good.
During the lecture, one wall of the room was hung floor to ceiling with silk scarves. We weren’t allowed to pick out any crafts until the end of the presentation, so we all sat there, drooling, mentally picking out our favorites and planning the fastest path to get to them. I thought about getting a traditional ikat scarf, in which threads are dyed (sort of like tie-dye) before they’re woven. It takes a lot of skill to create ikat, because you have to be able to deconstruct the pattern before you begin so you know how to dye the threads. However, in the end I couldn’t resist the colors of this scarf.
But looking at these ikat patterns, it almost makes me wish I’d purchased another one…
A coworker also got to go to a day-long workshop on Suzani, which is Uzbek embroidery. I’ve already made her promise that the next time we have a “crafternoon,” she’ll teach me the stitches.
I think my favorite part of the night was during the question period. A rather snooty woman who’ve I’ve met before asked Raisa to speak on the fact that, “since we know all art is inherently political, how does Uzbek art respond to those politcal placements and pressures?” A woman sitting behind me whispered, “The knowledge of their art forms was almost lost forever because of a political regime and now they’re re-learning them. That’s political enough.” Perfect.
*Total side note, but this shirt (which cost $0.99 with the tags still on it) is technically a maternity shirt. I measured it with my non-maternity shirts, and the only difference is more boobage room. Score!