Soumak weaving is an integral part of Uzbekistan’s artistic and cultural heritage. The intricate textile-making process is intimately known to Dilshod Usmanov of Samarkand.
The process starts with an artist choosing his pattern and palette, then procuring yarn. The carpet begins to take shape by wrapping weft yarns over four warp threads, and then drawing them back under two of them. Repeating this process over and over again, from edge to edge, creates the effect of a stitched surface. Soumak are sometimes mistaken as embroideries. Unlike Kilim rugs, soumak are not reversible, since yarn-ends are left exposed on the back side of the textile. This affords a special softness and thick tread. “Being so fine,” explains Usmanov, “They are used for utilitarian needs like bed covers and wall hangings—not just for floor coverings.”
Offerings from Usmanov’s busy workshop in the heart of Samarkand City included lushly textured, small carpets for any number of indoor spaces. The team also produces lavishly patterned items like table runners and cushions with abstract patterns and designs as well as animals and ancient symbols. For Usmanov, family ties are of the utmost importance to his process. “All of my ancestors have been engaged with this art in some form or another,” he explains. “They were shepherds and had a nomadic way of life; for us, this is a hereditary craft, passed from generation to generation.” Such a sentiment only adds to the value of these extravagantly special textiles.