Master rug designer Rushana Burkhanova’s name is distinguished among fine textile artists in the famed Bukhara region of Uzbekistan. She became interested in carpet-weaving as a young child and when she finished formal schooling she began making textiles in earnest. After a lengthy apprenticeship, followed by a period of working on her own, Rushana opened her own workshop. Though it started with just Rushana and two other women, today Bukhara Carpet School employs over fifty artisans, most of whom are women, in making an array of meticulously woven and traditionally designed fine rugs and other textiles.
Carpets are made with wool, silk, and cotton threads. Cotton is locally sourced and wool, too, comes from regional camels, sheep, and goats. Silk threads come from the lush Fergana valley, the center of silk production in Uzbekistan. Threads are colored with vegetable dyes before put to the loom, destined for any number of dazzling designs. To begin, the carpets’ intended colors, motifs, and patterns are sketched out on graph paper. Some carpets feature animals and plant life, while others contain intricate geometric details or traditional, ancient symbols. The textiles are all formed on looms whose history in Bukhara dates back hundreds of years.
This complicated process requires equal amounts of technical skills and imagination; thankfully, Rushana and her team of artisans have both in droves.