The wearable art of Uzbek master weaver Nargis Bekmuhamedova comprises a showstopping combination of brilliant color and exquisite pattern and striking forms. The traditional costumes of men and women in Central Asia, specifically in Bekmuhamedova’s beloved Samarkand City, have utilized a similarly modest, loose-fitting cut and style for centuries, impervious to fads.
One of the most important elements of life to Central Asian populations are festivals and family parties. Preparations for such parties, at times, take years, because the number of people invited may go up to several hundred. Wearing traditional dress to such feasts generally turns every party into a bright show of everyone’s finest attire.
For Bekmuhamedova, the approach toward selection of materials for making clothes is very serious. “Making our traditional costumes involves many different processes,” says Bekmuhamedova. “These include weaving, pattern-making, embroidery, ikat, and manual quilting and sewing.” Before making a traditional costume, certain fabric and decorative elements are carefully selected, then the fabric is cut into pieces which are later quilted and embroidered.
The densely rich history of this part of Uzbekistan isn’t lost on Bekmuhamedova. “I was born in the ancient city of Samarkand and have never had any desire to move anywhere, though I have been to and seen quite a number of nice places.” Luckily for those of us far away from Uzbekistan, the myriad traditions and inherent beauty of this rich global region are accessible because of artists like Bekmuhamedova.