AUD $220.00
  • Sold Out! - Sorry

Uzbek, Silk Ikat Chapan

Sorry this old chapan is no longer available. However we may still have others available.

A vintage cotton lined, lightly quilted, pure silk “ikat” coat (chapan) from the Kashkadarya Region of Uzbekistan.

(this region includes Shakhrisabz, Kitab and Karshi just southwest of Samarkand, abutting the Afghan border.)

“Ikat” is a complicated process, used in many different places in Asia, involving stretching the silk before weaving and binding specific areas (resists) before immersing it in dye.

Repeating the process with increasing areas bound, between different applications and colours of dye, produces preplanned patterns only really revealed upon completion of the weaving.

As amazing as the process may be, the traditional involvement in Uzbekistan, of up to 13 different Guilds of Craftsmen (of many different races and religions), all fulfilling a specific role, is unique to this process and locale.

It’s no coincidence that it should eventuate right in the centre of the Silk Route, where ideas and techniques from both the East and West could mingle and ferment.

This product could only have developed in a society where these craftsmen could all cooperate.
From the designers, through the “ikat” binders working on the threads, to the dyers and master weavers, not forgetting the tailors.

You also need a society obsessed with rank and status defined by clothing, commissioning specific designs. Often awarding them as “robes of honour” to be given as rewards, to champion polo players for instance.

These silk warps carrying the design, were held together by the silk wefts, between them creating a boldly stylized pattern that gave the surface it’s particular sheen.

This “chapan” has a dull burgundy/mulberry field with bold diagonal designs so characteristic of Uzbek ikat are revealed in pale pink resists and occassional emerald, teal green, magenta and rich egg yolk yellow highlights.

In the centre back is one dark brown patch, that is part of the design but only occurs twice.

Carefully cut from one length of ikat the pieces then reassembled into the coat, and in this case carefully hand sewn throughout, have achieved a beautiful balance that looks like symmetry.

The design has a vertical “Navajo” emphasis all centred round the diagonal or chevron motifs on the back which have a fringe of hanging “tassels” (possibly representing combs or earrings.)
Often these motifs have specific meanings, for instance scorpion, tulip or pomegranate, but I haven’t recognised this one, yet.
I’ll check my notes, but it really looks like a fringe of tassels.
But, if you look closer it isn’t symmetrical, it’s more dynamic, carefully and sensitively achieved with patchwork and gussetting.

It’s condition is not perfect but I’m told this coat dates from the 1940’s to 1950’s, so it’s understandable.

Sadly though, there is a little hole (10 mm x 7 mm)on the left middle front, near the braid, not big enough to be obvious but enough and badly placed if you want perfection. (see bottom image)

And there is a larger tear accross the lower midddle back, that has been loosely repaired at some stage closing the tear, but it’s still visible if scrutinized.(it’s an “L” on its side shape 13 cm x 4 cm. (see last close up image.)
But it’s at the very back and well below eye level.
Also one of the shoulder seams is seperating and requires a little sewing, but once you’ve handled this coat you’ll feel its charm, and with a little bit of tender needle care it’s a bargain at this price.
The silk is becoming a little stretched in places so it won’t stand a lot of wear before it is retired from active duty.

Seek expert advice before you attempt any cleaning I don’t think the dyed silk would respond well to tampering.

The internal lining combines at least six different “Russian Print Cottons” the two major designs are;

  • the main field is a Red ground scattered with sprays of green leaves, buds and blooms of “pink roses.” (see below about fading, as there is a colour difference in the main lining.)
  • the second, used on the flaps, is an extraordinary pattern of a deep burgundy ground with sprays of Chrysanthemums in blues and pinks, but these are mixed with full blown blousy, “almost Pointilist” Poppies.

There are so many juxtapositions of colour, flower and pattern in this coat that the inside is astounding, this is intentional, said to be based on Sufi patchwork robes, which showed humility being made from recycled scraps. For the collector, so many fabrics used in one piece are a bonus (more and more I’m becoming drawn to these wonderful “chintzes” that are much more than just linings. Since we bought “Russian Print Cottons” by Susan Meller, an amazing read, see article in “Our Blog”.)

The brave and creative may even choose to wear it inside out for an amazing burst of floral patterns, great for the Theatre or Opera.

Also don’t hang it in direct sunlight or under spots for any length of time as the dyes may not be stable.

It’s a basic rule, with fabrics and papers anyway, as the fibres can deteriorate, too.

This has been done it seems, as the centre of the lining of the back has been exposed in hanging and is softer or paler than the unexposed areas. This is only visible if displaying it hanging, once again it’s not abvious, quite mellow in fact. And invisible if worn, the richer sections exposed if flapping open.

This old silk chapan is very luxurious to handle and simply a cosy pleasure to wear or even handle.

Age; Middle 20th Century

Size; Cuff to cuff, across the shoulder 172 cm. Centre back, collar to hem, 118 cm. Chest 130 cm.

Weight: 670 grams.