Suzani continue to be very fashionable in western homes, as their colorful designs certainly enhance any room. However, they were not originally made simply as decoration to be admired in passing - they were the great tapestries of Central Asia, whose designs were the symbols of the people.
Brought out only for a great family occasion such as wedding or when receiving an important visitors, they were stored for years in wooden boxes ,that is why so many survive today in such remarkable condition. A fine collection was undoubtedly a sign of great affluence. But more importantly, suzani were the principal medium of artistic expression for the peoples of the Emirate of Bukhara and Kokand, today part of of Uzbekistan. Through a great understaning of why they were made and how they were used, it is possible to appreciate not only their extraordinary craftsmenship but also their individual artistic merit.
The high period of this art was from the 16 to the 19th centuries. Bukhara and Kokand Emirates are bounded by deserts and mountain ranges. The hills are full of wild flowers and many of the valleys are ideal for growing crops, cotton,fruit and vines. Situated at the center of the ancient Silk Road that stretched Rome in the west to Xian in the east, the region was once part of the mighty empires of Sogdia, Merv and Bactria. Conquered by Alexander the Great, Chenghis Khan and Tamerlan over the past 2500 years a rich variety of different peoples have made this their Homeland.
From the 13th to the 15th centuries the Emirate cities were at the heart of Timurid Empire. They became famous of their art and architecture , and many great mosques still remain today in Samarkand and Bukhara. Famous artists and skilled craftsmen were brought to Samarkand ,Bukhara and Shakhrisyabz from all over the Empire. The urban,court arts along with calligraphy, miniature painting, poetry and music, flourished under Timur and his royal patronage.This was expressed through the beautiful embroidered coverlets and wall hangings made as dowry gifts ,which were created by people whose skills as well as sense of colour, form and beauty are abundantly clear.
The tradition of the bridal dowry gift of needlework or of a weaving is extremely ancient, and seems at one time or another to have existed in most These gifts had a two-fold purpose. First, they were an expression of the bride's wealth and skills, indicative of her ability to provide all that her new family would need both in the way of domestic weaving and, if circumstances required, items that could be bartered for other goods. Secondly, these textiles constituted a means of perpetuating the repertoire of totemic symbols of the clan or tribe, or of the area in which they were made. Many of the weavings bore motifs of fertility.