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Object Timeline

1955

  • We acquired this object.

2009

2012

2013

2019

  • You found it!

Bed Cover (suzani), 19th century

This is a Bed cover (suzani). It is dated 19th century and we acquired it in 1955. Its medium is silk embroidery on cotton foundation and its technique is embroidered in chain and bokhara couching stitches on plain weave foundation. It is a part of the Textiles department.

Suzani, meaning “of needle” in Persian, are large-scale embroideries central to Central Asian domestic culture. Young girls learned to sew at an early age, often beginning to work on textiles intended for their own marriage dowries. Suzanis were considered the most important textiles in a dowry. Indicators of skill and family wealth, they were status symbols intended to be used in the home as bed covers, covers for stacked piles of clothing or blankets, or as wall hangings.
These colorfully embroidered textiles were made communally by many hands. Drawing from a vocabulary of traditional designs, a family member, or a kalamkash (professional draftswoman), would sketch the design on strips of loosely joined cotton fabric. In this case, the design was drawn on five strips, then separated and embroidered by different women in the family or community group. Once embellished, the strips were sewn together, accounting for the irregularities along the seams and the color variation of the threads. This piece was lined with two colorful warp print fabrics.

This object was donated by Provident Securities Co. and Estate of Mr. & Mrs. William H. Crocker. It is credited Gift of Provident Securities Company from the Estate of Mr. and Mrs. William H. Crocker.

Its dimensions are

H x W: 248.9 x 182.9 cm (8 ft. 2 in. x 6 ft.)

Cite this object as

Bed Cover (suzani), 19th century; silk embroidery on cotton foundation; H x W: 248.9 x 182.9 cm (8 ft. 2 in. x 6 ft.); Gift of Provident Securities Company from the Estate of Mr. and Mrs. William H. Crocker; 1955-133-18

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://www-6.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18402695/ |title=Bed Cover (suzani), 19th century |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=14 October 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>