Suzani. A Story of an Embroiderer

Italiano (Italian)

9 March – 5 May 2024
Art Museum RIGA BOURSE / Great Exhibition Hall
Doma laukums 6, Riga

Media tour of exhibition on 8 March 2024 at 11.00
Registration of participants: 10.30–11.00

From 9 March to 5 May 2024, the Art Museum RIGA BOURSE in Riga (Doma laukums 6) invites to visit an exhibition Suzani. A Story of an Embroiderer.

Embroidery is one of the most elaborate forms of traditional art in Uzbekistan. Historically, it was an integral part of a girl’s dowry and often used in home interiors. Nowadays, it is also an important design and fashion element. Suzani is a large decorative textile wall hanging usually made from cotton or silk cloth and embroidered with silk threads. The term derives from the Persian word ‘suzan’ meaning needle.

There are many distinctive styles in various areas of Uzbekistan, and each differs in patterns and techniques. The Tashkent school, in particular, is distinguished by its originality, represented by two main centres – Tashkent and Pskent. By the 1980s, the tradition of making Tashkent embroidered panels palyaks was forgotten. In the early 2000s, the leading masters were mainly engaged in the revival of the techniques and ornamentation of the Nurata, Bukhara, and Shakhrisabz schools of embroidery. In many ways, the oversight of Tashkent school was due to the complex technological feature of making palyaks: their background, same as the patterned motifs, should be covered with embroidery, which means that the continuous sewing technique was to be used. This was difficult, costly, and time-consuming.

Despite all these challenges, craftswoman Madina Kasimbaeva took up the task. She is the only embroiderer in Uzbekistan who has been successfully reviving the traditions of the Tashkent school of embroidery for many years. In her works, Madina uses a complex technique of crochet embroidery with a needle – ‘yurma’ and a ‘bosma’.

The exhibition Suzani. A Story of an Embroiderer is the joint project by Dr. Binafsha Nodir and Madina Kasimbaeva, dedicated to the revival and continuity of the traditions of the Tashkent school of embroidery. As part of this project, the authors attempted to present a detailed process of creating suzani: from a composition sketch to a complete embroidered panel.

In the work exhibited at the Art Museum RIGA BOURSE, Madina Kasimbaeva has designed her Universe with the largest rosette in the middle of the composition representing the Sun, while the smaller ones around it – the planets. The artwork encompasses an idea of the unbreakable bond between man and nature. Every craftswoman uses the same patterns, nevertheless, each has an individual style, and each creates personal Universe.

The 8-meter-long suzani placed in the centre of the hall was made by Madina Kasimbaeva and 15 of her mentees for three and a half years. It is the largest of its kind ever created in Uzbekistan. Latvia is the first destination of display outside of Uzbekistan.

Madina Kasimbaeva

About the authors of the project

PhD Binafsha Nodir – art historian, curator, a senior research fellow at the Institute of Art Studies of the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan, editor-in-chief of SAN’AT (ART) magazine of the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan. She specializes in traditional applied arts, in particular textiles, and is an author of over 50 articles, catalogues, album-books as well as a curator of many projects. The most important exhibitions: The Light of a Distant Star, The Mystery of Magic Threads (dedicated to the revival of Tashkent traditional embroidery), The Thread that Connected Generations (dedicated to the traditions of Uzbek silk weaving), In Search of the Lost Paradise (dedicated to the revival of Uzbek printed cloth), while projects The Birth of a Suzani and Heaven’s Will or a Story of an Embroiderer were dedicated to Uzbek embroidery and the oeuvre of the craftswoman Madina Kasimbaeva.

In 2021, Binafsha Nodir was nominated “Best Art Expert of the Year” in TOP-ART – 2021 in Uzbekistan, but in 2023 was the curator of the IV Tashkent International Biennale of Applied Arts.

Madina Kasimbaeva is one of the leading specialists in Uzbek embroidery, achieving mastery in several regional styles. She is a member of the Association of Creative Artists of Uzbekistan, member of the Uzbekistan National Union of People’s Craftsmen and Artisans Hunarmand (since 2007) and a founder of the brand Suzani by Kasimbaeva.

In 2016, Madina Kasimbaeva won the Best Crafts Person of Uzbekistan prize for her extraordinary work and contribution to Uzbek applied arts traditions. The master has been awarded the Shukhrat medal by the Government of Uzbekistan in 2019. Madina Kasimbaeva has represented the applied arts traditions of Uzbekistan in exhibitions in Europe, Asia, and America. Author’s works are presented at the British Museum and in private collections.

Binafsha Nodir