Paris, France — It was a cross roads, a major rendez-vous on the Silk Road of yore and more, much more. A world of gold embroidery, stunning aesthetics, ceremonial costumes, incredibly intricate jewelry, magnificent embroidered textiles, horse harnesses in silver set with turquoise. These treasures emanate from the Central Asian country of Uzbekistan, a country known for being accessible. And now this fairy tale world has come to Paris with unique objects leaving Uzbekistan for the very first time in a show entitled The Roads to Samarkand, Wonders of Silk and Gold being played out at the Insitut du Monde Arabe which organized the exhibition in partnership with the Art and Culture Development Foundation of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
« In the white, misty light of dreams, on the frontier between Europe and Asia lies Uzbekistan. In this land with a history and culture stretching back thousands of years it is possible to make out, in the distance, the outlines of the eternal cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva, » commented Jack Lang, the President of the Institut du Monde Arabe.
Indeed it is a region that was marked my myriad cultures ranging from China to India, Persia and the endless steppes. It was a center of knowledge and cultures, of the Zoroastrian and Muslim practices as well. And the show offers a journey through time allowing visitors to discover more than 300 previously unseen items that are representative of the treasures of Uzbekistan: sumptuous chapans (kaftan coats), the doppis, the traditional caps that have been part of the traditional Uzbek costume for centuries, and gold-embroidered accessories from the emir’s court, hand-painted wooden saddles, horse harnesses in silver set with turquoise for the horse was once the only means of transportation, magnificent suzanis (embroidered textiles), carpets, silk ikats (tie-dye), jewelry and costumes from the nomadic culture, as well as twenty paintings by avant-garde Orientalist artists.
This exhibition showcases the revival in traditional crafts in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which are part of the Uzbek identity. Textiles played a key role: they conferred distinction, provided pleasure and created a strong image in society. Unique pieces decorated with or entirely covered in gold embroidery bear witness to the social and symbolic importance of courtly splendor. One of the fascinating parts of the show is devoted to the talismanic robes that were worn generally by high-ranking people and provided protection against agressions, disease, sudden death and the evil eye.
The exhibition offers an opportunity to discover this magnificent culture in a country whose historical name was Transoxiana, for it was the land beyond the Oxus River. « We highlight the importance and wealth of our national heritage and to bring together unique pieces, most of which have never left Uzbekistan before, » commented Gayane Umerova, the Executive Director of the Art and Culture Development Foundation under the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan, adding « One of the missions of the Art and Culture Development Foundation is to increase awareness of our history and cultural heritage on a global scale. »
Come and be bewitched for it is a last chance to see. The show is running until June 4th. Meanwhile the Institut du Monde Arabe has an extensive collection of objects and art works of the Arab world, a library, a bookshop, a tea salon and an excellent restaurant on the top floor with splendid views of Paris and The Seine. ©Trish Valicenti for The Gourmet Gazette.1, rue des Fossés-Saint-Bernard Place Mohammed V, 75005 Paris, France. +33 (0)1 40 51 38 38. https://www.imarabe.org/fr
Categories: Gourmet Fair, Gourmet Wear
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