Craft Development Center-Handwoven Ikat Fabrics, Clothing, Home Decor
The Craft Development Center, in Margilan, Uzbekistan, is headed by internationally-renowned Master Weaver Rasuljon Mirzaahmedov. He works with eight other ikat masters and more than 40 weavers at the Craft Development Center.
Rasuljon is a fifth-generation ikat master. “I was born into a family of craftsmen,” he says. Rasuljon’s father, Turgunboy, was an Uzbek ikat pioneer. “He was always considering new designs, structures, and coloring techniques,” Rasuljon remembers, “and that inspired me.”
The artists of the Crafts Development Center use silk and cotton, all produced in Uzbekistan, to make ikat fabrics, pillows and other home décor items, clothing, bags and other accessories. Ikat weaving is a very time-consuming and complex process: raw silk goes through 37 steps, including many dyeings, to complete a single piece. “Our hands touch up to 4,000 strands of silk during the process,” Rasuljon says. Traditionally, men warp and dye the silk, and women complete the weaving.
In addition to providing reliable income for Rasuljon and his team, ikat weaving is allows the artists to honor and preserve their Uzbek heritage. “Our art helps sustain my family and community—we can afford school for our children, and improve our infrastructure,” says Rasuljon.
Rasuljon's designs have been shown in numerous international shows and exhibitions. He is a frequent artist participant at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, the largest and most prestigious exhibition of its kind in the world.
During the Soviet era, ikat weaving was pushed underground as the government emphasized industrialization and manufacturing. But with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the 1990’s, traditional textiles reemerged. “Today, ikat is the national textile of an independent Uzbekistan,” Rasuljon explains.
“With the coming of spring,” Rasuljon explains, “we celebrate Central Asian New Year. Most Uzbek women wear ikat dresses for this holiday.” Ikat is also widely used in home decor. The colorful, durable fabrics symbolize brightness and happiness. Inspiration for the dramatic ikat patterns comes from nature and society. “Ikat celebrates animals, insects, holidays, women's names, natural phenomenon, and so on,” says Rasuljon.
Meanwhile, Rasuljon dreams of writing a book on Uzbek textiles. Ultimately, he wants people all over the world to understand and value the ikat tradition, and for handmade ikat products to be used in every home.