Uzbek workshop revives traditional ikat - Albuquerque Journal

Uzbek workshop revives traditional ikat

When Uzebekistan was still under the grip of the Soviet Union, the country’s legacy of traditional design nearly died.

The workshop Bibi Hanum is reviving this culture of boldly patterned silk/cotton fabric garments known as ikat. Founded by Muhayo Aliyeva in 2006, the workshop brings Uzbekistan’s ancient textile traditions into the 21st century. Aliyeva will showcase her clothing line at Santa Fe’s 2018 International Folk Art Market on July 13-15. She’s been attending the event for eight years.

Aliyeva started sewing when she was about 16.

“We would take orders from the neighborhood,” she said in a phone interview from Uzbekistan. “I used to use the fabric. I noticed everybody – especially the foreigners – liked creating things out of ikat. That got our attention.”

Aliyeva worked at an international school, then at the American Embassy, where she helped artists with grants.

“I was so passionate about (ikat),” she said. “The more I learned about it, the more I knew we had to revive it.”

Until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, ikat was an underground craft pursued by a few artists forced to hide their skills. The Soviets suppressed personal expressions of the country’s cultural heritage.

Historically, women crafted the most luxurious Uzebekistan garments for the emir and his court, who used robes and caftans to pay tribute and taxes. Tailors, designers and embroiderers worked under a guild system until the first quarter of the 20th century.

Today most Uzbek women boast from five to 10 ikat garments made as part of their dowry.

Accessories by Bibi Hanum.

The workshop has tailored the traditionally large, wide pieces to reflect 21st-century styles. Bibi Hanum offers coats, dresses and accessories in vivid colors and bold patterns.

“It fits the modern time; you can wear it,” Aliyeva said.

Weavers hand-produce the intricately woven fabric in more than 30 steps.

“You have to extract the silk from the cocoon,” she said. “Then there’s the dyeing process.”

Aliyeva creates her patterns using a computer. Her workshop of 10 women stitches the clothing together.

“A lot of them are from underserved families,” she said. “They are women who want to make a living. There are some who were rescued from human trafficking.

“They think they’re going to work as a baby sitter,” she said. “They think they’re offered a job. They happen to be in the hands of traffickers, and they take their passports.”

Aliyeva named her company after the favorite wife of Amir Temur, who was wise and beautiful. She decided to build a mosque in his honor while he was returning from a victorious campaign. But the building’s architect fell in love with Bibi, demanding a kiss in exchange for completion. He kissed the queen so passionately that it left a mark on her cheek. When the Amir returned, he demanded the capture of the architect, who hid atop the minaret of the new mosque. His pursuers caught only his student, who said, “My teacher has sprouted wings and flown to Mashhad.”

The Bibi Hamum Mosque was built in 1399-1404 in Samarkand.

Home » Entertainment » Arts » Uzbek workshop revives traditional ikat

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages


Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
'Truth or Consequences' ranks as one of the best ...
ABQnews Seeker
It's the summer of 1970 and ... It's the summer of 1970 and Daniel Asa Rose and Tony Wilson, both 20 years old and best friends since sixth grade, are about ...
Wine and secrets get spilled in the comedy 'Drinking ...
ABQnews Seeker
"Drinking Habits" opens at Adobe Theater ... "Drinking Habits" opens at Adobe Theater on June 2, running on weekends through June 25.
Photographer, author Chris Rainier to bring 'Cultures on the ...
ABQnews Seeker
Photographer and author Chris Rainier presents ... Photographer and author Chris Rainier presents "Cultures on the Edge: A Journey into Indigenous Ways of Being" at the Lensic Performing Arts Center.
National Theatre Live production 'Best of Enemies' to be ...
ABQnews Seeker
"Best of Enemies" was the winner ... "Best of Enemies" was the winner of the 2022 Critics' Circle Award for Best New Play and nominated for the 2022 Olivier Award for ...
Mysterious garden holes are the traps of antlions
ABQnews Seeker
At this stage of life they ... At this stage of life they create those perfect round holes which are actually traps for unsuspecting ground crawling insects.
The Met Live comes to the Lensic with 'The ...
ABQnews Seeker
Opera fans can head to the ... Opera fans can head to the Lensic Performing Arts Center for "The Met Live in HD: Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute)" at 11 a.m. ...
Bond House Museum to showcase Santa Fe Opera props, ...
ABQnews Seeker
The exhibition represents a collaboration between ... The exhibition represents a collaboration between the opera and the San Gabriel Historical Society and the Española Valley Opera Guild.
'The Nature of Glass' explores the medium through a ...
ABQnews Seeker
"The Nature of Glass" focuses on ... "The Nature of Glass" focuses on 28 contemporary works by such household names as Judy Chicago, Georgia O'Keeffe and Preston Singletary.
Elsa Menendez, Arts & Culture deputy director, shares pieces ...
ABQnews Seeker
Elsa Menendez picked five of the ... Elsa Menendez picked five of the city's recently installed Public Art pieces.