Monday, October 22, 2012

Ikat Silk Velour - A Kinesthetic Heaven

I was very pleased to find this piece of vintage silk velour which was just enough for two pillow cases (20x20 inches). 

As a girl, I did not appreciate this fabric which was so much loved and treasured by my Uzbek relatives. They had pillows, bed covers, throws, decorative cushions and floor seating made of this ikat velour fabric, and I used to think snobbishly that it was too bright and 'too Uzbek'. It was in the same category as heavy handmade furniture made of walnut wood, hand cut lead glass vases and thick Aubusson carpets. All those things seemed very old fashioned, heavy, bulky, awkward and even ugly.

I am still indifferent to lead glass; however I like that old fashioned furniture, even if sometimes it looks somewhat primitive and naive in its attempts to imitate European style thus creating a new 'European Asian style', in my view. In addition to that, I bought a wonderful Aubusson rug last Sunday (you will see it when I get if from the dry clean). I have learned to appreciate the coziness of traditional Uzbek houses where everything is covered in rugs and carpets, throws, blankets and bedspreads, with lots of throw pillows and other soft things to lean and recline on. And this ikat silk velour (called 'bakhmal') is particularly treasured.

It is easy to see why Uzbek silk velour (or is it velvet?) is so much loved. It is lovely to the touch, smooth and cool, like grass in the shade or running water; it is a pleasure to hug a cushion covered with bakhmal. I can virtually touch it with my hand for hours while sitting at someone's house and talking, and I will keep enjoying the sensation.

This silk velvet is traditionally produced in Samarkand, in a rather primitive way, and it has a cotton foundation and a silk pile. Very easy to care for, and durable, and looks good even worn out, like a good rug. 

My pillow cases are especially nice, to my taste, because of the unusual color combination; I was fascinated by the slate blue background with greenish yellow vine, leaves and flowers contoured in magenta. This one is definitely not over the top, and it seems to have a certain Chinese influence. I would say that is is Uzbek fabric imitating Chinese designs imitating European art nouveau - is not it a nice example of cultural penetration and exchange?

I love how it looks in the afternoon sun, with spots of light here and there. It reminds me of grapevine in the autumn, when heavy grapes are hanging like crystal chandelier, and sun falling through the rusty colored leaves. Pity that this autumn I did not make it to Ferghana Valley, to take pictures of their amazing grapes; next year, maybe... In the meantime, I still have these velour cushion covers to look at and to touch.


  1. It is a magic pillow!
    soft velvet and delicate silk together!! magical feeling!
    I'm happy for those who will have them!

  2. These pillows are so pretty and seems to be so soft. Great piece of home decor.

  3. Wow, that fabric is gorgeous and opulent. I can see the pillows accentuating a dove grey sofa. They are certainly eyecatching! I quite like Aubusson carpets with pale green and pink rose designs. Can't wait to see yours!

    1. Duni, how did you know my rug was like that? it is pale green with pink and pale coral, that is right! I have seen blue ones, too, but they would not fit in. I will show my rug when it arrives!

  4. They are indeed very beautiful to behold... and your description of the feel and touch makes me feel like I'm really touching that shiny, soft silk velour... You have such a talent for conveying atmospheres and making them come alive for the reader... I really enjoy reading your posts, it's like traveling in space and time each time! Thank you! :)

  5. Such a beautiful color combination! True autumn colors!

  6. Love this floral patter on the pillows! very beautiful!

  7. Потрясающие цвета :) Представляю себе какие они приятные на ощупь :))


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