Synopses & Reviews
The traditional textiles of Central Asia are unknown treasures. Straddling the legendary Silk Road, this vast region stretches from Russia in the west to China in the east. Whether nomadic or sedentary, its peoples created textiles for every aspect of their way of life, from ceremonial objects marking rites of passage, to everyday garments, to practical items for the home. There were suzanis
for the marriage bed; prayer mats; patchwork quilts; bridal ensembles; bags for tea, scissors, and mirrors; lovingly embroidered hats and bibs; and robes of every color and pattern.
Author Susan Meller has spent years assembling the 590 textiles illustrated in this book. She documents their history, use, and meaning through archival photographs and fascinating travelersand#8217; narratives spanning many centuries. Her book will be a revelation to designers, collectors, students of Central Asia, and travelers to the region. Silk and Cotton is destined to become a classic.
andldquo;Suzani wall hangings, ikat trousers, embroidered satchelsandmdash;this lush volume explores the breathtaking textiles of a region steeped in color and pattern.andrdquo;
andldquo;Lavish in illustration and exhaustive in research.andrdquo;
andldquo;Mellerandrsquo;s book is the first I am aware of to focus on andlsquo;everyday textilesandrsquo; . . . Meller is among the first serious collectors to elevate these garments to connoisseurship. . . . Even if you already have three feet of Central Asian textile books on your shelf, this one will still be a worthy addition. If youandrsquo;d like to peruse the splendor of Central Asian cloth for the first time, then Silk and Cotton will soon be a well-thumbed book on your coffee table.andrdquo;
andldquo;As the enticing images signify, dynamic multilayered patterns in vibrant singing colors are the hallmark of these textiles. Eclecticism is the other prevailing leitmotif, with robes, dresses, and hangings constructed on mix-and-match principles . . . Textile historians will appreciate the wealth of contextual pictures, but the textiles themselves can be enjoyed on a purely visual level as joyful and inspiring works of art.andrdquo;
andldquo;Susan Meller is a California textile expert who is plainly obsessedandnbsp;with Central Asia . . . she has journeyedandnbsp;in time, reading old travel writers as well as newer ones, dipping into history from the Mongol Empire in the 13th century to the end of the Soviet Empire in the 20th. She includes passages from the travelersandrsquo; narratives and illustrations from their books. . . . The result is a lot more than just a book about silk and cotton. . . . It is indeed a wonderful album. Its range of textiles is huge, not just the famed ikats and suzanis of the area, but everyday household textiles and cloths. She points to the details of regional stitching in clothing and hats, and how patterns have evolved according to tribal groupings and handed down. All this is presented against a background of the complex history of the region . . . and a social history which had a determining effect on the textiles themselves.andrdquo;
Never before have printed textiles been celebrated in a book of this magnitude. Now in paperback, Textile Designs is the indispensable sourcebook for the colorful patterned materials that have been used in fashion and interiors for the past 200 years. Organized not chronologically or geographically but by motif -- Floral, Geometric, Conversational, Ethnic, and Art Movements and Period Styles -- this bible of textile design presents a stunning cross-section of the materials of everyday life: printed calicos and cottons, flowered cretonnes and chintzes, polka-dot silks and foulards. With its informative text and pattern names provided not only in English but also in French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese, this is a must-have for everyone interested in color and pattern.
About the Author
is the author of Russian Textiles: Printed Cloth for the Bazaars of Central Asia
and the coauthor of Textile Designs.
She lives in Berkeley, California.