Uzbek Carpet

carpet production

Every house in Uzbekistan is furnished with carpets. Although these days they are often factory-made synthetic rugs from China, however traditionally they would have been handwoven locally. Each community used to produced carpets in a distinctive style, and they were valued as much for their artistic qualities as for their functional properties. The largest single collection of carpets is thought to have belonged to the Emir of Bukhara: he had over 10,000 examples in his palace.

Kyrgyz carpet weaving
Rishton carpet weaving

Wool Carpets

The most ancient form and would have first been produced by nomadic herders with surplus wool from their sheep. When wool is kneaded with soap and water, it becomes a thick, heavy felt that is not only warm but, as local legend has it, cannot be walked upon by a spider, nor crawled upon by a snake. It is either left in its natural color (usually a cream or grey), or dyed with natural pigments such as indigo (for blue), moraine (red) and pomegranate bark (yellow). In desert areas, women also made similar rugs with camel hair.

Wool Carpet workshop held by Kyrgyz minority

Less than 10 km from Rishton located Ok Yer village. There is a large Kyrgyz minority live who does handmade wool carpets. Head of the family Bakhrom ake can show and guide you through the workshop and explain the details of wool carpeting. 

Wooven technic

It’s not known exactly how long carpets have been woven in Uzbekistan, yet archaeologists have found spindles in Stone Age sites that are similar to the wooden spindles still used in some rural areas of the country today. The loosely woven carpets are still produced around Dzhizak and Nurata. Such carpets are often woven with a pattern of longitudinal stripes, edged with a chain of rhombuses and triangles.

Modern flat-weave carpets can be woven from either woolen or cotton threads. The smooth surface is created by interlocking the warp (vertical) and weft (horizontal) threads. They are produced on a simple loom made from narrow, wooden beams. The width of the carpet strip is dictated by the width of the loom but typically does not exceed 50cm. To make a wider carpet, therefore, several strips must be stitched together. The flat-weave carpets produced in Bukhara are considered to be the finest in the country; those from Surkhan Darya are unique in that the base threads are in two colors.

The most valuable carpets, however, are the tufted carpets. The finest fleece is used to produce their thread, and a thread count of 100 or more knots per centimeter is not uncommon. This makes the production process exceptionally time-intensive, and it requires an exceptionally high level of attention to detail; a single knot of the wrong color in the wrong place will ruin months of work.

Women's job

Although men do sometimes produce knotted carpets, it is generally considered a job for women as it helps to have small, deft hands. Women pass carpet-making techniques from mother to daughter, and it is still commonplace to see young girls working away at a loom. The warp threads are stretched on the loom, and onto these the weaver knots individual threads, hitting each one down with a metal hook so that it sits tightly alongside the previous knot.

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