Ikat & Ikat Velvet in Uzbekistan from a Weaver’s Point of View

Barbara Pickett

Monday, November 2, 2020

I am a velvet weaver. It is the center of my artwork and research. I have studied contemporary velvet weaving practices in ateliers in Italy, France, England, Japan, China, Turkey, and India. When I learned that ikat velvet was being woven in Uzbekistan, I was ecstatic and immediately launched into discovering all I could. Historically ikat velvet weaving was never widespread. It was confined to the royal courts in Bukhara. The literature says that it died off during the Soviet period. Luckily for us it has been revived and has become an emblem of national pride.

It is my pleasure to share with you all that I have learned from three masters, Rasuljon Mirzaahmedov,
Fazlitdin Dadajanov, and Aziz Murtazaev. Rasuljon told me that there are 100 steps in the process starting with cultivating the silk to the finished cloth, and the last 37 steps starts with the undyed silk yarns on cones. I plan to show you this portion of the process and my attempts to teach the techniques to my students and adapt them to my studio practice.

Abrbandi is the word for ikat and baghmal is the word for ikat velvet. All the rich patterning and color come from precise dyeing of the warp yarns before they go onto the loom. Let’s explore the three main design schemes used and let’s see the criteria that the ikat masters use to judge each other’s skill and artistry.

Barbara Setsu Pickett, an Associate Professor Emeritus in Department of Art, University of Oregon, focuses her art and research on velvet weaving, Jacquard design, shibori, natural dyeing and artists’ books. Her awards include NEA Individual Artist, Fulbright Research, Institute of Turkish Studies, Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio, and Asian Art Museum in San Francisco artist residency. She founded the University of Oregon’s Fibers in Florence, Italy program and in 2005 she and her son Michael formed Mihara Shibori Studio and create highly textured silk scarves.