Traditionally Suzani refers to a wall-sized tapestry, but Americans don’t typically decorate their walls with small size tapestries so what they’ve done is they’ve taken the technique and created modern products to appeal to modern buyers. Suzani comes from the Persian word suzan which means needle. Suzani refers to the large wall hangings and it also refers to the hand-made embroidery technique the needle and thread embroidery technique.
Pretty much everybody in Central Asia uses the ikats made in Margilan, Uzbekistan. They used to do ikat weaving in other parts of Central Asia including the Khujand area skilled died off, but in Margilan it’s still a very strong local craft so the ikats that are combined with the Suzani embroidery is one of the unique techniques that Armugon handicrafts uses.
The Ozara group is the handicraft arm of the National Association of Businesswomen of Tajikistan which is an organization that does lots of work in different fields with women and entrepreneurship and they have a very important presence in the country. In 2011, the National Association of Business Women of Tajikistan, with help from international organizations, launched a project “Saving Our Heritage-Saving Ourselves (SOHSA)”, which has both contributed to the revival of the suzani (embroidery) tradition and provided women artisans of the country with income generating activities. The project has provided the marginalized women participating in the project with education and material support, including high quality raw materials, quality control and design, and especially promotion of handicrafts and artisans in international markets. The program has developed a large network of existing masters and artisans from around the entire country who are effectively transferring their knowledge to students through regular training. The “Ozara” brand products are exported to the USA, England, Germany, Canada, Australia, India, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, and listed on several online stores.
Armughon Handicrafts is the handicrafts arm of the Zerafshan Tourism Development Association (ZTDA) in Panjakent, Tajikistan. (“Armughon” means “gift, a reminder of a place” in Tajiki.) Supported by grants from the Soros Foundation and other international donors, ZTDA implemented projects on crafts in 2009, 2011 and 2013-2014, with the aim of preserving, nurturing and developing local art traditions and also improving the quality of life for women living in the Panjakenti rural areas by involving them in the local economy. Through these craft projects they have started to work with unemployed women from the impoverished mountain regions, and now work with several clusters of women. In June 2013, Designer Munira Akilova of Khujand (who also has her own craft business, Arinumcrafts) began to work with ZTDA. She was initially invited to do research on the traditional Tajik crafts of Suzani (embroidery), Quroq (patchwork) and carpets, and has now become the new product designer for Armughon. Munira began her career in economics and spent 14 years as a university teacher, before she decided to leave the university and spend her time on the embroidery that she loved. Whenever she creates a new design for Armughon, she “always tries to put a part of Zerafshan into it. It means all of products should have Zerafshani ornaments/patterns.” She also thinks deeply about how the product will be used, by whom and when, and then focuses on color. As she explained, “Each piece has its own meaning.” This is the process that led to the development of products that have received the UNESCO Award of Excellence for Craft, the small set “Tuppi” needlework ornaments modeled after traditional male and female hats (already offered by HoonArts under the Arinumcrafts brand), and the wall hanging “Marhamat” (which we plan to add to our collection). All the Armughon products are made by unemployed Panjakenti women living in the mountainous areas.
“HoonArts” is the fusion of the Tajik/Persian word for “craft” and the English word “arts,” which reflects our mission. We offer extraordinary hand-crafted gifts and accessories for the true lover of world culture, while building community and empowering artisans. Travel the exotic streets and mountain back roads of this little known corner of the world, explore the culture that reflects 3000 years of civilization, meet the people in our HoonArts community, and shop for one-of-a-kind and limited edition treasures crafted by master artisans on the other side of the globe. We are committed to Fair Trade principles in all aspects of our operations, so you can rest assured that your purchase is helping impoverished artisans build a brighter future for their families and communities. Come join us on this journey of a lifetime.