Suzani is a type of embroidered and decorative tribal textile made in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries. Suzani is from the Persian سوزن Suzan which means needle. The art of making such textiles in Iran is called سوزندوزی Suzandozi (needlework).
Suzani usually have a cotton (sometimes silk) fabric base, which is embroidered in silk or cotton thread. Chain, satin, and buttonhole stitches are the primary stitches used. There is also extensive use of couching, in which decorative thread laid on the fabric as a raised line is stitched in place with a second thread. Suzanis are often made in two or more pieces, that are then stitched together.
The oldest surviving suzanis are from the late 18th and early 19th centuries, but it seems likely that they were in use long before that. In the early 15th century, Ruy Gonzáles de Clavijo, the Castilian ambassador to the court of Timur (Tamerlane), left detailed descriptions of embroideries that were probably forerunners of the suzani.
Suzanis were traditionally made by Central Asian brides as part of their dowry, and were presented to the groom on the wedding day. These hand-embroidered vintage suzanis are infused with the character that only comes from everyday use. Perhaps created by a bride-to-be to show her devotion to her betrothed and then in lean times bartered away to a traveling merchant for money or household necessities pulled from the depths of his donkey cart. The story of each of these suzanis is as rich as their colors and as intricate as the designs that cover their surfaces.
Major types of Suzani
- Bukhara Suzani
- Khodjent Suzani (Khodjent, Tajikistan)
- Lakai Suzani
- Nurata Suzani, made in the town of Nurata in Uzbekistan.
- Pskent Suzani
- Samarkand Suzani
- Shakhrisabz Suzani
- Tashkent Suzani
- Ura Tube Suzani (Istaravshan, Tajikistan)
- Kaitag, embroidered textiles from Dagestan
- Tush kyiz
- Pateh, embroidered wool textile from Kerman province in Iran
- Guide to Suzani by Barry O'Connell. Photographs of all types of suzanis.
- Article on suzanis
- Contemporary Uzbek suzanis by Marla Mallett. Includes details of embroidery techniques.
- "Splendid Suzanis, 2003, Saudi Aramco World
- All about suzani from Central Asia
- TRC Needles entry on suzanis.
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