Wall hanging

Warp faced plain weave.

… Read More

Historical period(s)
Ikat dyed silk warp, undyed cotton weft
H x W: 221 x 152.4 cm (87 x 60 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Guido Goldman
Arthur M. Sackler Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Costume and Textile

Wall hanging

Goldman collection, Uzbekistan
Provenance research underway.

Warp faced plain weave.


The term "ikat" is derived from the Malay-Indonesian verb mengikat, which literary means β€œto bind, tie, or wind around.” It refers to a complex ancient technique, a method of wrapping yarns to form areas of resist and then dyeing these sections before the cloth is woven. Unlike other textiles, therefore, the individual motifs and overall design of an ikat have to be determined and established prior to the actual weaving.

Although ikat dyeing is known in many parts of the world, ikat textiles associated with the oasis kingdoms of Central Asian (khanat) are unrivaled for their brilliant palette and bold designs. Their superb quality and high level of production in the eighteenth century is a direct result of the cultural and economic renaissance of the khanat before absorption into the Soviet Empire.

Produced in the cities of Bukhara, Samarqand, in present-day Uzbekistan and in the towns of the Farghana Valley in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, ikat wall hangings and robes brought the vibrant colors of a blooming garden to a stark desert region. Also referred to as abr (cloud), ikat hangings embellished mud-plastered walls and were used to construct outdoor pavilions and tents for special occasions. Ikat coats, often worn in many layers, established the social status of men, while women proudly included them in their dowry and wore them at weddings and other family festivities.

Ikat production required the skill of many workers: women raised the silk-moth larvae, whose cocoons supplied the filaments for weaving. Men dyed the threads, wove them, and polished the finished fabric to give it luster. In Central Asia, diverse ethnic groups specialized in different skills: Tajiks, for instance, were responsible for dyeing red and yellow colors; Jews controlled the trade and indigo color, and Uzbeks wove most of the adras, or silk and cotton ikats. This division of labor offers a fascinating look into textile production in Central Asia and the traditional guild system.

Published References
  • Kate Fitz Gibbon, Andrew Hale. IKAT: Silks of Central Asia, the Guido Goldman Collection. Exh. cat. London. cat. 137, p. 248.
Collection Area(s)
Arts of the Islamic World
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
SI Usage Statement

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.