Medium of Work:
Until the first quarter of the 20th century, Uzbekistan’s tailors, designers and embroiderers were part of a guild system. When the region came under Soviet rule, Uzbek ethnic identity was repressed along with strict modernization programs that were initiated, resulting in decreased output of handmade textiles that were replaced by factory made fabrics. It wasn’t until 1991 with the breakdown of the Soviet Union that there was a resurgence of the rich Uzbek textile tradition, which today can be seen in the work of master artisans like Fazlitidin Dadajonov, who brings ancient textile traditions to the 21st century by creating clothing and accessories using handwoven ikat fabrics, adorned with patterns both painstakingly designed and visually dazzling.
Dadajonov was among the young apprentices who honed their craft in basement workshops. Today, the bursts of color and light he creates are sought after by residents and tourists alike, and he is widely respected for his mastery of the entire silk ikat process, from cocoon to final, brilliant fabric.
“My father knew how to do everything – from harvesting the silk, to tying and dyeing the thread, to precision reeling of the warps, to weaving the final fabric,” explains Dadajonov. “I was just a teenager, really, but my father taught me in such a way that I stayed interested.” As business has grown, Dadajonov has taken up his father’s métier as teacher, too. He currently trains as many as ten apprentices at a time. In a year, they can learn one of the skills needed to make ikat: the long and complicated process of tying the warp threads to create pattern, the art of dyeing to create vivid and stable colors, or the art of weaving the weft into the warp threads so that the patterns appear with clarity and consistency. Items made by Dadajonov include traditional tunic-like shirts, as well as accessories like brightly hued, luxuriously soft silk scarves.