Suzani: Zerafshan to HoonArts, Part 1: Creating the Design

Hello. My name is Rikki Quintana and I am the founder of HoonArts Fair Trade. I’m often asked how do we get our products here to the U.S. from Tajikistan, which is landlocked in the middle of Central Asia.

I thought the easiest way to explain that would be to tell you a little bit about the production process of one of our products. What I have here today are a couple of small suzani wall hangings, known as pannos in Tajikistan, that combine traditionaol suzani embroidery work and traditional patchwork or “quroq” work.  This is the quroq work.

These products are all made by Armugon Handicrafts, which is based in the Panjakent region of northern Tajikistan, just across the border from Samarkand [Uzbekistan].  When I order a new product, Munira Akilova will design the product, selecting traditional suzani patterns and ornaments that are traditional in the Zerafshan River Valley of northern Tajikistan.  

And as she explains it, whenever she designs a product, she really wants it to reflect the authentic patterns of the area. And she thinks very deeply about the user of the product, how the pattern relates to the use, the meaning of the patterns. So she puts a lot of thought just into the design work. So she will think about and design the product.

For example, this particular panno is known as Marhamat, which means “welcome,” and it reflects a number of traditional patterns and ornaments from the Zerafshan Valley.  In the center there’s a lovely tea pot which reflects welcome and hospitality. The floral patterns in each corner are very traditional patterns reflecting both sun and warmth and light. The quroq patterns along the border [are] a traditional talisman again evil in the Zerafshan Valley. 

[Music]

[Next Time: Part 2-Creating the Pattern for the Artisans]