• F3
  • F2
  • F4
  • F1

Pashtun dress. TRC 2007.0273b. Factory woven ground cloth with applied metal thread braid (passementerie).Pashtun dress. TRC 2007.0273b. Factory woven ground cloth with applied metal thread braid (passementerie).Central Asia, especially Uzbekistan, has long been famous for its production of textiles and garments. Located on the so-called Silk Road, it has seen and used textiles from China, Mongolia, India, Iran (Persia) as well as the Middle East and Europe. It has also developed a distinctive style of clothing that is well suited to the hot summers and freezing winters, as well as the plains and mountains of this vast region.

The package will be available from the summer of 2018, following its display at the Textile Research Centre in Leiden between September 2017 and February 2018. The exhibition is based on the extensive collection of Central Asian garments, textiles and jewellery now housed in the Textiles Research Centre, Leiden (for the online catalogue, click here). 



For the purpose of this exhibition, the definition of Central Asia has been based on the so-called ‘stans’, so including Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. For centuries the peoples of these countries have travelled from one area to another and so created a melting pot of ethnic and cultural groups.

The exhibition is used to explore the various types of textiles and their decoration associated with this vast region, notably the colourful ikats, velvets (plain and decorative), as well as the embroideries and printed ornamentations. Many of the objects displayed are associated with the Uzbeks, but there is a sizeable selection of Turkmen dress and jewellery, as well as Hazara, Kazakh, Kyrghys, Pashtun and Tajik forms. The items range from small purses and plait bags (literally to cover a woman’s plaited hair) to lavish gowns and decorative yurt panels and bags.

Dress for an Uzbek woman, 1980s. TRC 1997.0122Dress for an Uzbek woman, 1980s. TRC 1997.0122The Turkmen items include complete outfits of men and women, as well as individual garments. There are items from the Ensari, Guklan, Nakholi, Teke as well as Yomut Turkmen. In addition, there is a selection of Turkmen jewellery, including bridal and marriage headdresses and diadems, hair pendants, chest panels, bracelets, and rings. Some of these items are placed in the correct position on a Turkmen woman’s outfit, other items need to be displayed behind glass.

Among the items to be displayed are a number of coats worn by male members of various Uzbek courts, including ikat and velvet forms, and a rare embroidered coat of a type that was presented as a gift to notables: this was a form of khilat (‘robe of honour’), an important and ancient subject that will be discussed in the exhibition. The exhibition is also a chance for visitors to see a selection of the famous, embroidered suzanis, which were made by families for their young brides in order to decorate yurts and, later, urban houses.


 Exhibition structure

The exhibition is divided into the following sections:

  1. General introduction to the region
  2. Silk production in Central Asia (general)
  3. Textile production in Central Asia (general)
  4. The basic male and female garment types from Central Asia
    1. Trousers
    2. Gowns
    3. Coats
    4. Veils
    5. Snapshot: Khilat
    6. Snapshot: Men and women’s headwear (Kyrgyz, Tajik, Turkmen, Uzbek)
  5. Specific forms of decorative textiles from Central Asia
    1. Beading from Central Asia
    2. Embroidery from Central Asia
    3. Felt and felted items from Central Asia
    4. Ikats textiles from Central Asia
    5. Knitted items from Central Asia
    6. Painted and printed textiles from Central Asia
    7. Woven textiles from Central Asia


Exhibition contents

Alphabetically and in more detail, the  exhibition package illustrates the following subjects:

Beading from Central Asia

  1. Beaded bodice for a woman’s dress (Afghanistan)
  2. Beaded dresses (Pashtun, Afghanistan)
  3. Small items, including purses and dress roundels (Afghanistan)

Embroidery from Central Asia

  1. Baby swaddling band (Uzbek)
  2. Bedding bands (Uzbek)
  3. Bridal dress (Afghan, Pashtun)
  4. Bridal embroideries (Uzbek, Tajik, Kyrgyz)
  5. Embroidered footwear (Afghan, Kyrgyz)
  6. Embroidered wrestler’s trousers (Afghan)
  7. Form of passementerie (men’s waistcoats, Afghan)
  8. Prayer cloths (Tajik)
  9. Yurt bag and its symbolism (Uzbek)
  10. Snapshot: Embroidered coats (Uzbek)
  11. Snapshot: Suzani (Uzbek)
  12. Snapshot: whitework embroidery (Afghan)

Felt and felted textiles from Central Asia

  1. Snapshot: felt items and yurts (mainly based on photographs)
  2. Snapshot: buzhkashi outfit for a man
  3. Snapshot: felt and embroidered coat (Pashtun) for a man (Afghanistan)

Ikat textiles from Central Asia

  1. Tajik ikats
    1. Woman’s dress
    2. Girl’s outfit
  2. Uzbek ikats
    1. Various woman’s dresses and coats
    2. Various man’s gowns and coats

Knitted textiles and items from Central Asia

  1. Snapshot: Afghan socks

Painted and printed items from Central Asia

  1. Locally produced, block printed textiles
  2. Imported Russian textiles
  3. Imported Iranian textiles
  4. Snapshot: hand painted hunting textiles (Afghan)

Woven textiles from Central Asia

  1. Imported Chinese textiles and the Silk Road
  2. Locally produced decorative woven textiles (brocades, striped)
  3. Locally produced velvets
  4. Tent bands (tapestry weave)
  5. Piled saddle cloths (bicycles and motor bikes)
  6. Snapshot: cloth for man’s coats (chapans)
  7. Snapshot: Turkmen dress and jewellery for men and women (six outfits, plus individual garments, including two sheepskin caps)

Optional extra: Naswar containers – small, painted containers made from gourds used for carrying a form of herbal snuff (based on tobacco)


Technical information

Size of exhibition: min. 150 sq metres

Number of objects: c. 150 - 200 items ranging in size from finger rings to large embroidered panels. The number of objects can be augmented by the host museum, in consultation with the TRC. The items include a number of complete and spectacular outfits that can be fitted onto mannequins (not included in the package).

Range of dates: most of the TRC pieces are 20th century in date

Illustrative items: photographs and original prints

Lighting: most of the items date to the (late) 20th century and made with synthetic dyes, and it will not be necessary to keep to a strict 50lux lighting situation. It should be noted, however, that there will be some exceptions

Display: some of the ikat, velvet and embroidered garments should be behind glass, but most of the TRC garments and outfits can be displayed on podiums, behind waist level barriers, etc. There should be a ‘do not touch’ policy.

Intended public: anyone interested in Central Asian culture, textile techniques and history, art and design groups, etc. The exhibition contents can be changed and adapted to the needs of the host's public.

Related activities: to be organised

Lectures/workshops: to be organised

Catalogue: An illustrated catalogue in manuscript form (written in English) can be provided if required.

Other publications: to be organised

Available from: Summer 2018

Length of loan period: three to four months (longer is possible if required)

Loan fee: €25000

Courier: flight (KLM, economy), depending on distance, plus accommodation and per diem

Transportation of objects: (if a specialist art courier is used), c. €12000

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Hogewoerd 164
2311 HW Leiden.
Tel. +31 (0)71 5134144 /
+31 (0)6 28830428  

Open on Mondays - Thursdays
from 10.00 - 16.00.

Bank account number:
NL39 INGB 0002 9823 59,
Stichting Textile Research Centre

Entrance is free, but donations are always welcome!

TRC Gallery exhibition:
5 Febr. -25 June 2020: American Quilts

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The TRC is dependent on project support and individual donations. All of our work is being carried out by volunteers. To support the TRC activities, we therefore welcome your financial assistance: donations can be transferred to bank account number NL39 INGB 000 298 2359, in the name of the Stichting Textile Research Centre.
Since the TRC is officially recognised as a non-profit making cultural institution (ANBI), donations are tax deductible for 125% for individuals, and 150% for commercial companies. For more information, click here
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