Monday, October 4, 2010

The Land of Silk

Uzbekistan is most famous for its significance along the ancient Silk Road. The Silk Road served as an important platform for the cultural, commercial and technological exchange between countries in Central and East Asia and during this period, the cities of Samarkand, Bhukara and Khiva flourished.

When the silk trade was in full swing, the Uzbeks mastered the art of paper making using silk. We had the chance to visit a paper making site (not a factory) in Samarkand and it was interesting to watch the process. Although silk paper is not very commonly used these days, it makes for wonderful decoration pieces.

The silk paper making process:

1. Make sure you have stacked enough pieces of wood from trees such as bamboo!

2. Remove the fibre part and keep this aside (you must have a lot of patience for this!)

3. Soak the fibre in water. This suspension should then drain through a screen to form interwoven pieces of fibre.

4. The water is then taken out and the fibres stick together like mold.

5. The fibres are then placed on a felt sheet and excess water is squeezed out and the fibres start to become flat.

6. Once flat, the fibres are taken out and hung to dry to become silk paper.

7. Once dry, a piece of marble or a horn can be rubbed on the silk paper to add more shine.

8. Ta Da! It's done!

Check out the different things you could make with silk paper!

A popular purchase among visitors to Uzbekistan is the suzani silk carpet. Many restaurants, hotels and local homes are decorated with these carpets and it does make a beautiful sight! We were fortunate enough to visit a suzani silk workshop and learn about the workers' conditions there. The owner of the workshop was very impressive, being able to speak 11 languages and treat his employees very well. We learnt there that the maternity leave in Uzbekistan is 3 years!!! Th owner's good treatment reflected on the employees' attitude as most were very cheerful and smiling while working.

I could not leave the country without purchasing something in silk, so I bought a beautiful silk and sapphire blue scarf. I love it!!!

The next entry will be about Shahrisabz and will end my Uzbek adventure (due to a busy schedule I have already dragged it on for months!). See you then!


David said...

This was the most entertaining/interesting carpet visit I have ever been to !

banoo said...

Ammulu, Very interesting to know the process of silk paper products! I remember wearing that Scarf during my recent visit and DVD was mentioing about it! Your Uzbek adventure seems to be like Hanuman's lengthy experience in search of Sita, in the epic Ramayan, which is never ending but very interesting! Good write up!


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