Embroidery and Textiles

Our collection of vintage and antique embroidery includes suzanis and ikat from Uzbekistan, dresses, embroidered pieces and purses from Afghanistan and Sindh in Pakistan, shawls and pillows from Abbotabad and the Swat Valley, and cotton quilts from Sindh.

We also carry a range of woven textiles made for the domestic market in northern Pakistan, including cotton blankets and cotton rumals (all-purpose cloths used for anything from carrying bread to protecting your head from dust-storms).
Afghan Interiors is committed to supporting the local cloth market in Charsadda, northern Pakistan. The cloth for our mattress covers is hand-loomed here, and samples of the cloth are available for sale by the metre.

We are a major Sydney outlet for Tradition Textile and Jewellery Pty Ltd’s crewel curtains and soft furnishings (www.traditiontextilesandjewellery.com).

Afghan Embroidery

Embroidery and weaving was a way of life for women across Afghanistan in urban and country areas, but each tribal group produces distinctive patterns of embroidery and stitching, with designs passed down from mother to daughter. Many everyday items were embroidered: clothing, purses, makeup bags, hats, shawls, purdah curtains, and even gun holsters and covers. This tradition of embroidery continues today.

Uzbek Suzani and Ikat

We carry both antique and modern Uzbek suzanis and ikat panels, now available after a remarkable revival of traditional skills following the opening up of Uzbekistan to Western travellers.

Suzan is Persian for needle, and suzani is now used as a term for most embroidery from the Central Asia region. Traditionally these pieces were sewn as part of a bride’s trousseau by the bride and her family. Modern production is mainly for the international market.

Narrow cotton or silk panels are tacked together, the pattern is drawn onto the panels and then the panels are separated. Different women then stitch each panel separately. Once they are finished, they are sewn back together to produce the final piece. Occasionally the joints are not perfect, but this adds to the individuality of the pieces.
Each region in Uzbekistan has its special motifs and colours. Samarkand suzani are predominantly black and purple on white, while in Bukhara, the pomegranate features in many pieces, as a symbol of fertility.

Ikat is a special method of dying yarn before weaving to create repeating patterns that appear to blend together and overlap. It is made in both silk and cotton. Ikat is often used to make cloth for coats or chapans. For winter, these chapans are often made of quilted ikat silk for extra warmth.

 

Swati Embroidery

The Swat Valley in Northern Pakistan is a fertile green valley fed by rivers running down from the snow covered mountains on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is renowned for its hand-carved furniture and for its distinctive, vibrant pink embroidery. The traditional geometric patterns are sewn in pink-red silk on a black cotton background to produce cushion covers, shawls, dresses and other household items.

The Taliban takeover in the Swat valley in 2009 and floods in 2010 have caused much devastation in the Swat Valley, but the tradition of embroidery has flourished with a number of cooperatives and workshops set up in recent years to allow women to come together, sew and talk, and earn a living.

Swati Kohistan was known as the home of the best embroiderers. Their signature pieces are embroidered in red, yellow and white on black.
Further south, in Abbotabad, the Swati shocking pink is mixed with orange, yellow and green yarns to produce very distinctive shawls.

Sindhi Quilts (Ralli)

Ralli quilts are patchwork quilts made in the Sindh area of Pakistan. Families in this cotton-growing region along the River Indus do not have herds of sheep to provide wool, so warm bedding is made by quilting together multiple sheets of cotton. The traditional quilts use patchwork and appliqué techniques.

Newer quilts are often made using larger pieces of fabric, chosen for their bold patterns. The quilting stiches add further embellishment over the patterned fabric.
These quilts are all hand-made and there are no set sizes. Some will cover a double or queen size bed, but many are single bed size. 

Modern Textiles

We stock a wide variety of modern textiles, including satin and patchwork bedspreads, cotton chador blankets, cushion covers and other decorative items. These items are generally made for the domestic market but are highly versatile and decorative for use in Australian homes.