Colors of the Oasis: Central Asian Ikats showcases nearly 50 ikat robes and panels from the renowned Murad Megalli Collection of the Textile Museum in Washington D.C.
These bold garments were mainstays of cosmopolitan oasis culture in the 19th century, worn by inhabitants of different classes and religions throughout crowded marketplaces, private homes, centers of worship, and ceremonial places. The ikat textiles on display—including robes for men and women, dresses, trousers, and hangings—feature eye-catching designs in dazzling colors.
Supplementing the ikats (pronounced “ee-kahts”) are historical photographs and didactic materials about the tradition of their creation. The textiles were originally produced in the 1800s in weaving centers across Uzbekistan, including Bukhara, Samarkand, and the Fergana Valley.
Additionally, special installations of ikat textiles from India, Japan, and Central Asia—on view in the Museum’s permanent galleries in the Law Building—demonstrate ikat traditions from around the globe.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.
Whether or not you go, Central Asian Ikats showcases the centuries old ikat technique, a complex sequence of tie-dying silk threads to create elaborate patterns in striking colors before weaving. This invaluable introduction to the magnificent ikats of Central Asia sets the creation of these fabrics into the context of a long history of textile production that once centered around the trade of the famous Silk Road.
Illustrated throughout with glorious examples, Central Asian Ikats examines the social significance and various functions of these fabrics in Central Asian culture, as well as describing the fascinating and complex techniques involved in making them.