Uzbek Suzani: Ruijo

Uzbek Suzani: Ruijo


272 x 188 cm


This Uzbek Suzani is a so called Ruijo, or wedding sheet. It dates to around the middle of the 19th century and was possibly made in Samarqand.

Surviving examples of Suzani embroidery are a phenomenon of mainly the 19th century. These textiles are difficult to date and can often not be definitively ascribed to a particular area of origin.

A professional drawing woman, or Kalamkash, would have made a free-hand drawing on the blank canvas created by several panels of cotton, in this case four, for each panel to be embroidered separately, often by different embroiderers, and the panels to be reassembled after the embroidery was completed. This frequently leads to a design not quite matching up at the seams and is one reason for the artistic charm of these textiles.

The Suzani in hand is a Ruijo and was an important part of the dowry. It was spread out over the marital bed. Originally, it would have had a plain sheet in the centre, which was frequently cut out after use, which is why most Ruijos appearing on the market are in a U shape and are often confused with door surrounds. The piece in hand has had a later linen ground applied to the centre.

The embroidery is worked in silk on an undyed cotton ground. It is slightly rubbed in places, but the colours, which are all derived from natural dye stuffs, are still vibrant with their shades of orange, purple, blue, green and gold (the latter mainly for the outlines of the vines). The floral designs are exuberant, too: the thirteen large round  flower heads in the border are placed within a meandering vine, and not one of them is identical to any of the others. The two flowers in the corners of the head piece are fan shaped and in the same colour scheme.

The over all impression of this work of textile art is one of powerful flamboyance.

For another example of a Ruijo on this website’s archive, see .