Silkworm breeding in Uzbekistan has long been considered a traditional folk craft. In many cities and villages of Uzbekistan silkworms were grown and a variety of silk and semi-silk fabrics of simple and complex interweaving were produced. Uzbek ornamental wealth is famous for Uzbek national fabrics - striped "bekasabs" for men's clothing and "khan-atlas" for women.
Khan-atlas is the pearl of Uzbekistan. In this beautiful fabric, the character and traditions of the Uzbek people are displayed. Uzbek silk fabric khan-atlas has a unique bright color palette, a polish structure, symbolizing kindness, optimism and indomitable energy.
Legend of khan-atlas
A lot of legends tell about the history of the appearance of Uzbek khan-atlas. In one old history it is said about the rich ruler of the city of Margilan and the poor weaver. The artificer-weaver had a beautiful young daughter, in whom the old khan fell in love. He wanted to fill up his harem with another gorgeous girl, making the daughter of the weaver his fifth wife. The girl's father, having learned about the desire of the ruler, begged him to change his mind and leave his daughter alone. Khan was a stubborn person and did not want to abandon the young girl, but after persuasion the khan agreed not to marry in exchange for a condition. The old man must bring something capable of eclipsing the beauty of his daughter.
The weaver was grieving, not knowing how to surprise the khan and save his girl from an unwanted wedding. Not having slept all night and having lost almost all hope, he went at dawn to the irrigation ditch. The sun rose - the old man bowed his head and looked at the water. He saw a surprisingly beautiful reflection of the blue of the sky, the clouds shimmering with a multitude of flowers, the gentle green of the trees. After that, the weaver returned to the workshop and created an unusually soft and light fabric, like a whiff of a cold breeze, rich in bright colors, like a rainbow in the sky. It was Uzbek khan atlas. The khan was struck by the fantastic creation of the weaver, and he fulfilled his promise. He canceled the wedding. This unusually beautiful fabric began to bear the name of the khan-atlas, which means "fabric created for the ruler."
Margilan khan-atlas always stood out for its uniqueness of ornaments. Rainbow silk was very complex in manufacturing and therefore it was very expensive. He could replace money in trade transactions, it was inherited as a family heirloom, it was gifted. Silk production in Uzbekistan originated many centuries ago. Bukhara became its center, eventually moved to the city of Margilan, where it glorified the Ferghana Valley. The colorful cloth was sent along the Great Silk Road to Egypt, Baghdad, Kashgar and Greece.
Manual production of Uzbek khan atlas
The manual work on the manufacture of Uzbek khan atlas fabric is very laborious and extraordinarily complex. Initially, it is necessary to extract the finest filaments from the cocoon of the silkworm. Then one needs to apply the pattern by dyeing the strands. Only vegetable ingredients were used for staining. For example, to get a blue color, indigo was used; to get a red colour madder is used; and for yellow isparak is used. Other natural dyes were also used, which gave the threads a rich persistent color. A vague pattern called “abr” (cloud) was obtained due to a special technology, according to which the filaments were stained before weaving. The way of production by special ligation of threads before painting was called ikat. After all, the Uzbek silk ikat fabric had a unique pattern with indistinct edges.
Uzbek khan-atlas was very expensive and was affordable only for wealthy people, but over time it became more accessible and almost every girl could wear clothes from this silk. At the present time this hand-crafted art began to recede into the background and the fabric was made in weaving factories by applying paint to the already woven fabric.
In the modern world, Uzbek silk fabric gradually began to lose its popularity, as the girls stopped adhering to traditions and wearing national dresses. But this beautiful fabric has got a new life and it was started to use by fashion designers, creating exclusive models of clothes. Products from the Uzbek khan-atlas glitter on the world's catwalks in the collections of famous designers and amaze the audience with their magnificence and originality.
In Uzbek silk fabric, first of all, the beauty of color combinations attracts. Masters bring and perfection coloring of national fabrics, starting from the surrounding phenomena of nature, flora and fauna. In the ornamentation of Uzbek fabrics, it sounds like gold of sand, greens of valleys, blue lakes, southern sunsets, flowering of orchards. Unique, original, picturesque coloring national fabrics harmoniously combine and look nice.
Silkworm breeding and silk weaving in Uzbekistan
Although the production of silk fibre and the creation of clothes today are mostly automated, almost all the silkworm breeding in Uzbekistan is bred on private and individual farms, where cocoons are bred as many centuries ago.
In late April - early May, from the special stock of the previous agricultural year, the Uzbek government distributes 20 grams of silkworm eggs to each farmer who is going to cultivate them. Farmers are preparing places equipped with large boxes that have a special flooring. The only food for the silkworm are mulberry leaves, cut into small pieces. Cropped mulberry crowns restore their branches to the next year. Initially, 20 grams of silkworm occupy an area of 1 square meter and consume up to 3 kg of leaves daily. But over time they begin to absorb more and more food.
By the end of the first month, each mulberry silkworm, which has been so microscopic at first, grows the size of a little finger. The entire stock of silkworms occupies 2-3 meters and consumes up to 300 kilograms of leaves every day! Then the silkworm stops eating, and approximately a week winds silk fiber around it in a cocoon. Some silkworms are called "original", they are separated to be preserved for several months, during which they lay eggs. The rest are killed in the cocoons by steam. Otherwise they will go out and spin the silk fiber. Then each cocoon is evaporated and carefully untwisted. Conventional 4-centimeter cocoons give from 800 to 1200 meters of fiber yarn. Uzbek silk fabric for making clothes is woven from several threads of coiled fiber. In general, Uzbekistan produces about 30,000 tons of cocoons a year.
As well as many centuries ago, today the fabric of the khan-atlas is a brand of Uzbekistan. The fabric with iridescent inimitable ornament continues to reign among other types of fabrics and pleases its owners with unusual brightness, beauty and tenderness.