Marghilon Local Customs

  • Preparing the (already coloured) thread
    Preparing the (already coloured) thread
    by Trekki
  • The finished bale - for the typical Uzbek pattern
    The finished bale - for the typical...
    by Trekki
  • Machine weaving at Yodgorlik Silk Factory
    Machine weaving at Yodgorlik Silk...
    by Trekki

Most Recent Local Customs in Marghilon

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    Beautiful silk carpets

    by Trekki Updated Apr 29, 2007

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    Silk carpet
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    As I wrote earlier, not only silk cloth is made here, but silk carpets as well. Christina showed the room where the girls worked on suzanis and on silk carpets (photo 2: suzani work on the left, silk carpet on the right).

    On photo 1 is the carpet, that was finished just recently (Christina held it up for a better view), and she said that it took 6 months to complete it. It was extremely soft and ah, I would have loved to buy one, but that would have overstrained my budget. Maybe next time ?

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    Weaving – or traditional loom

    by Trekki Updated Apr 29, 2007

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    Girl at a loom in Khiva
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    Now for the most fascinating process of silk weaving – the girls at the wooden looms. It already fascinated me in Khiva, to see how quick the girls are handling the looms and how quick centimetre for centimentre of woven silk is growing. I have borrowed some of my Khiva photos for here (photos 2-4), to show how delicate thin these silk filaments are, and how close they are to each other on the looms.

    The bale (as in previous tip, photo 2) hangs at the opposite end of the loom, pinned down with a stone, and the single coloured warp filaments are “running” to the other end, where they are arranged through the tablets. The filaments for the weft are cotton or also silk, depending on the “material”, the finished cloth should be (pure or mixed).

    The girls here at the Yodgorlik were happy to show how the looms did work, but… haha of course would not allow that you sit down and try yourself. I am sure, it would end up in a mess.

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    Weaving – with machine

    by Trekki Updated Apr 29, 2007

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    Machine weaving at Yodgorlik Silk Factory

    Although most attention at Yodgorlik Silk Factory is drawn to hand made and unique silk cloth, they also have a couple of machines to weave the bales. From all the clothes, Uzbek women were wearing, I could see that tradition is held high, so the demand for more reasonable silk is high as well. Given the different incomes, maybe only the richer Uzbeks can afford the hand woven material.

    It is quite loud inside, the machines do make a terrific noise.

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    Dyeing the silk – and the ready-to-use bale

    by Trekki Updated Apr 29, 2007

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    The dyeing room - uff, quite hot in there !
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    The process, described before, is now repeated until the whole silk thread is completely dyed (or white parts left white) according to the desired pattern. Dyeing is done in a separate room, they use natural material (mostly plants) to dye. Onion peels are used to colour brown, berries for red and blue, etc.
    It was quite hot inside, as all the dyeing is done in the boiling pots.

    Finally, the thread is wrapped in the charactieristic matter (see photo 2) to give the ready-to-use bale for the machines or the wooden “hand”-weaving looms.

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    Preparation of the dyeing

    by Trekki Updated Apr 28, 2007

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    Preparing the (already coloured) thread

    (haha, while writing I realise that this is the most difficult part to describe….. with my non-native English…. Don’t get desperate please, if it sounds bwwaaa)
    The threads, which have been wound on the 2 metre reel are then prepared for dyeing.The magic of Uzbek silk is the so-called ikat technique, where the silk is dyed before weaving. Either both threads, warp and weft, or only one is dyed in this technique (and the other in full thread dyeing).
    According to a pattern, plastic strips are tightly wrapped around the thread (=where no colour should go), and then the whole thread is placed into a dyeing bath. Of course, the dye soaks a tiny bit into the wrapped part, that’s why the finished silk always has these slightly blurred, “cloudy” appearance, where colours meet.

    A good website to learn more about this dyeing technique is this one:
    Ikat pattern technique

    Or read at
    Wikipedia about Ikat – and more links

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    Now the cruel part – obtaining the filaments

    by Trekki Written Apr 28, 2007

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    As I was here in August (2006), it was already too late to see the cocoon steaming. But also here, a good website exists for those of you who are interested in seeing this part.
    A finished cocoon consists of approx. 1000 m of a single silk thread. A cocoon has to be further processed to get the filaments maximum 8-10 days after it is finished, as otherwise if the worms would transform into moths and their secrets would dissolve the silk thread.
    To obtain the silk thread in its full length, the cocoons are treated with hot steam (to kill them) and are carefully brushed to find the beginning of the thread, which is then unwound. It is wrapped on a reel, which is then going to the next step of “customizing” in length.
    Uzbek silk patterns consist of repeating patterns every 2 metres. That’s why the filaments are put on a special reel (length a bit more than 2 metres) to dry and get further processed. Part of the threads are set aside and machine-wound on little reels to be sold to handicraft shops.

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    Feeding the hungry little worms

    by Trekki Written Apr 28, 2007

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    This is something I only know from reading, as I was in Uzbekistan too late (August) to see a silk worm hatchery. But I cannot describe the silk process without giving a bit of explanation about the real manufacturers of silk – the worms.
    It is nicely described in Lonley Planet’s Central Asia (p. 193 in edition 3, 2004). But you can also find many detailed information in www, please see end of this here.
    According to LP, Uzbekistan government hands out 20 g of tiny silk worms to farmers willing to raise them. Hatchery time is April to May, in which the must farmers have to work around the clock, given the appetite of the worms. LP wrote that they eat up to 300 kg (!!) chopped mulberry leaves per day during their last period, before they start cocooning. My god, it must be a huge amount of work for the farmers to collect and chop these leaves ! When the worms have finished cocooning, the farmers sell the cocoons to the factories. LP mentions a price of 1-2 USD per kg cocoons, where usually 80 – 120 kg of cocoons are resulting from the initial 20 g of worms.

    For further reading about all the breeding, including buying worms and setting up a hatchery at home, see here:

    Wikipedia about the silk worm,
    Wikipedia about their meal, the mulberry tree,
    Site about how to raise silk worms,
    silk worm cocoons,
    another one for silk worm cocoons,
    excellent site with many links how to “process” the cocoons.

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