The robes of Central Asia besides being utilitarian, were status symbols. Used on festive occasions, they provide clues about their wearers. Rulers and high rank officials would dress in silk velvet with metallic embroidery, lower rank officials would wear robes of imported cloth from Kashmir, merchants and scholars would wear silk ikat robes and peasants and nomads would wear coarse material like wool. Robes would also be used as gifts of honor and that’s how they found their way to the west where they were found to be endlessly fascinating.

Their size would be an indication of wealth as well. Long, impractical sleeves would mean that their wearers do not perform any labor and when eating these sleeves would be pushed up. Their structure with two large panels in the front make them closed when walking thus offering protection from the cold.

This wool robe is from the Karakalpak region of Uzbekistan. It is a woman’s robe with large proportions and it is decorated with embroidered dark red thistle flowers. The lining is Russian chintz made for the Central Asia market.

Circa: 19th century

Origin: Uzbekistan

Material: Silk embroidery on wool; cotton lining

Condition: Some repaired old moth damage, minor strains to lining, very good condition

Dimensions: 54” x 78”

Inventory number: NS00014


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