It is easy to see why suzani are so much loved. People love them, because they are bright, intricate, exotic and different. They bear a flavour of faraway countries, gardens behind high walls in the middle of deserts, little spice shops and huge bazaars. However, to me they are no exotic at all, because I live in their country of origin. I am used to seeing them around, mostly in other people's houses. And my mother used to work as a designer for a Tashkent factory which produced national clothing and suzani, just like those that we used to make pillows below. I used to visit her work often and could not care less for these pieces of needlework which were in abundance there. To me, an equestrian silk scarf is exotic, because we do not have them here. A suzani is not!
I really did not care for suzani when I was a child. I thought they were too bright and with too many details. I felt that they made my eyes tired. However, at some point I saw them in different eyes, when my mother told me about symbolical meanings of their elements. Yes, as in the case of most folk arts, all those details are not just to be beatiful. Some elements are believed to bring good fortune and prosperity, others - to protect your health and life. When you start realising how much love and care people gave when designing and making these things, you begin appreciating them more.
And then, later, I stopped being so fixated on neutral colors and plain designs which I always used to prefer, and began really enjoying the burst of colors and the sophisticated curving lines of traditional Uzbek suzani. Why having plain green pillows in that green sofa? I would really feel like a frog sitting in a marsh. This is not to say that I do not love frogs - I do! - but something like a wonderful garden in bloom would also be nice, so there you go, suzani pillows!
The light was not so great, but at least we can see them sitting pretty together. I think they are beautiful! All of the suzani pillows or bags we are offering at Mulberry Whisper are one of a kind or limited edition. These vintage suzani are not easy to find, and they are not cheap, too. I buy them when I can.
The square pillow, 18 x 18 inches, can be bought here
These suzani are embroidered in tambour stitch. This is hand-guided machine embroidery which is still considered handwork, because the machine is controlled by a person, not by a computer. Of course it is much faster than working with your hands and a needle, but this is still a hard and tedious work. And the result is beautiful.
The long pillow, 13 x 26 inches, can be bought here
When I have a bit of time and inspiration, I will write about antique suzani and the meaning of the elements. I think this is a fascinating topic.