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Notes on Oriental Rugs by Barry O'Connell

Suzani Embroidery the O'Connell Guide

Shakhrisabz Suzani. Harold Keshishian's It is unusual for it's small size.

Harold Keshishian's Shakhrisabz Suzani. It is unusual for it's small size.

We see a wide range of embriored piecework accross the Moslem world. In Central Asia we use the term Suzani but we see very similar work in Ottoman Textiles, Greek Textiles, Epirus Textiles, Resht Textiles, Moroccan Embroidery, Algerian embroidery, and even Banya Luka Applique. Put simply Suzani is embroidery on cloth in one piece or more often in several then stitched together.

Shakrishabz Suzani circa 1850 from Tony Kitz

Shakrishabz Suzani circa 1850 from Tony Kitz

Nurata Suzani first half 19th century from Marvadim

Detail Nurata Suzani first half 19th century from Marvadim

The name Suzani comes from the Persian word for needle. We can translate it as needlework for our usage. Often we think of Suzani as large decorated covers such as the one from Tony Kitz above. this is not absolute since there is splendid examples of small pieces such as the 2 1/2 foot square Wertime Nurata Suzani Bukcha.
 Chain, satin and buttonhole stitches are the primary stitches used. There is also extensive use of couching. I do a fair job of sewing on a button and I once closed a wound by stitching it my self but I am no expert of needlework. Still I was curious as to how couching differs from stitching. The key is that couching is to stitch around a second thread to attach the secondary thread to the fabric as a raised line. It is often used for outlining. I suppose this will generate email explaining that I am missing some crucial aspect of couching. Uzbek Tashkent Suzani 19th century from TribalSource

Detail Uzbek Tashkent Suzani 19th century from TribalSource

Detail Khodjent Susani 19th century From Urgut Gallery

Detail Khodjent Susani 19th century From Urgut Gallery

Note the gold pattern. The gold thread is done in a satin stitch to outline the pattern.

Notes on Oriental Rugs by Barry O'Connell

Copyright Barry O'Connell 2004 - 2007.
Last revised: November 18, 2009.

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