Hello friends, today I wanted to share the photo of the Uzbek coat which inspired yesterday’s piece. The colors were what attracted me to it and when I was told it was an antique coat from Uzbekistan, my imagination was caught. I had images of the fabled Silk Road going through my mind as I tried the coat on.
I don’t know much about textile but I do love unusual and colorful patterns. Often, these unusual and colorful patterns have a certain history behind them too. I love the idea of stories behind everyday objects. Much like beads, fabric can tell us so much about ourselves, our history, our culture and the way we perceive things.
Back to my ikat coat, it turns out that the term ikat is used to refer to both the cloth and the weave. It is a very old dyeing technique that originated in Southeast Asia and subsequently spread all over the region. The oldest piece of ikat is believed to be a piece of funerary cloth from Indonesia which dates back from the 14th century. It reached its zenith in the 19th century with the fabled ikat of Central Asia, specifically the ikat from Uzbekistan! So renowned was the beauty of the Uzbek Ikat that they were used as currency along the Silk Road. In Uzbekistan, the weavers of ikat even grew their own mulberry trees for the silk they subsequently used to weave the beautiful cloth. The more ornate and complicated the pattern, the more difficult it was to make and thus denoted much status for the wearer. It came to symbolize wealth and richness.
When I read that these beautiful fabrics were used for trade, it seemed even more fitting that this coat inspired my bracelet of yesterday whose beads were also once used for trade many many centuries ago.