Highlights of our auctions since autumn 2007

289 Lots
  • Major Spring Auction

    Saturday 02. June 2018 at 3 p.m.

    • LotA930/150
    • OriginCentral Asia, West Turkestan
    • Dimensions82 x 113 cm
    • AgeEarly 19th century
    • Result EUR9,225
    • Result GBP8,088
    • Result USD10,765
    • LotA930/191
    • OriginNorth West Persia, Azerbaijan
    • Dimensionsa = 60 x 53 cm, b = 63 x 56 cm
    • AgeMid 19th century
    • Result EUR7,749
    • Result GBP6,794
    • Result USD9,042
  • Major Autumn Auction

    Saturday 17. November 2018 at 3 p.m.

    • LotA94/44
    • OriginNorth Persia, Varamin region
    • Dimensions119 x 168 cm
    • AgeLate 19th century
    • Result EUR6,150
    • Result GBP5,434
    • Result USD6,978
    • LotA94/48
    • OriginCentral Anatolia, Konya region
    • Dimensions190 x 157 cm
    • Age18th century
    • Result EUR6,765
    • Result GBP5,977
    • Result USD7,676
    • LotA94/60
    • OriginCentral Asia, West Turkestan
    • Dimensions134 x 111 cm
    • AgeFirst half 19th century
    • Result EUR12,300
    • Result GBP10,867
    • Result USD13,956
    • LotA94/91
    • OriginEast Caucasus, Shirvan region
    • Dimensions132 x 93 cm
    • AgeFirst half 19th century
    • Result EUR27,060
    • Result GBP23,908
    • Result USD30,702
    • LotA94/104
    • OriginEastern Central Anatolia, Cappadocia
    • Dimensions155 x 117 cm
    • AgeFirst half 19th century
    • Result EUR29,520
    • Result GBP26,081
    • Result USD33,493
    • LotA94/154
    • OriginCentral Anatolia
    • Dimensions88 x 64 cm
    • AgeMid 19th century
    • Result EUR4,674
    • Result GBP4,129
    • Result USD5,303
  • Large Medallion Suzani

    In 2000, when Michael Franses published "The Great Embroideries of Bukhara", the catalogue raisonée on the "Large Medallion" group of suzani, 54 examples were known. Since then, a further twelve have come to light, making a current total of just 66. The embroideries from this particular group have proved to be among the most fascinating, most beautiful and certainly most valuable suzani from the old Emirates of Bokhara and Kokand.

    The similarities of shared essential features suggest that many of the Large Medallion suzani were probably made in one particular district, most likely Bokhara. All of them were embroidered entirely in silk on a hand-made tabby weave cotton foundation, and none have been discovered with synthetic dyes. The principal stitch used on most Large Medallion suzani is basma, although at least three examples employ chain stitch as the main technique in their designs, while another mostly uses ilmok, with additional basma and chain stitch. Most use ilmok or chain stitch for the embroidery of the narrow lines that delineate the borders and the floral stems in the design. Often the angle of stitching is changed when using one colour, giving the impression of different shades because of the way the light strikes the surface.

    The central medallions on these suzani come in a variety of different sizes and shapes, and they have provoked a number of opinions as to their origin and iconographic interpretation. There are several different border schemes, with some having no border at all. It is possible to divide the 66 known examples into ten types, on the basis of detailed examination of the compositions and particular shared design features. Through this familiarity it is possible to come a little closer to recognizing the quality and significance of these important textiles.

    The most prolific design type of Large Medallion suzani, of which 23 examples are known, have a large hexagonal central medallion, with a small round medallion in the middle from which protrude large stems, like the spokes of a wheel. The other design variations all retain features that link back to the core group. Ignazio Vok, who once had the largest and most significant collection of suzani (sold in these rooms in April 2015, March 2016 and March 2017), owned more Large Medallion Bokhara embroideries than any other collector, having examples of each of the design types.

    Of the two examples offered here, lot 180 belongs to type ‘D’, of which just seven examples are known. The central field of suzani of this type is relatively narrow and contains two or three large top- or side-view flowers. This is surrounded by a very wide primary border, approximately the same width as the field, which is flanked by narrow minor borders.

    The second Large Medallion suzani offered here, lot 181 belongs to type ‘J’, of which just six examples are known. These have in the central field a lattice design containing various large side-view or top-view flowers, enclosed by a primary border flanked by guard borders. Some of the flowers are surrounded by gold spiralling, and many of the compartments also contain some smaller irises or other flowers.

    The oldest Large Medallion suzani have been attributed to the 18th century. It is possible, however, that the tradition is far older and originated centuries earlier. No scientific test is currently known that can establish the date of manufacture of any of the surviving examples. The differences we have noted suggest that they might have been made in two phases, possibly consecutive and spanning not too long a period of time, during which changes in their designs took place which harked back to older models. Recent carbon-14 dating of a number of knotted pile carpets with compositions identical to each other, made in neighbouring Turkmenistan, have demonstrated that certain design traditions in this region show no change whatsoever over almost four centuries. There is no reason to suppose that the embroidery traditions in neighbouring Bokhara were any different. Suzani were first recorded in museum inventories in the middle of the 19th century, and these examples (which had been preserved with the greatest care) appear today to be at least a century or more older than when they were first noted.

    The earliest surviving Large Medallion suzani could be amongst the oldest suzani extant, and some could be from as early as the 16th century (Ottoman silk embroideries worked on fine linen, which are far more fragile than suzani, survive from the 16th and 17th centuries). Then again, the Large Medallion suzani could also be the last survivors of an ancient tradition, of which the earliest examples no longer exist, and therefore date back to no earlier than the late 18th century, immediately prior to the arrival of the Russians.

    Perhaps in the future scientific testing will clarify this issue. The Large Medallion suzani do stand out. For the time being, let the focus be on their extraordinary beauty and special magic. It is indisputable that most of the 66 known examples are quite spectacular in their own right. Their immediately striking and powerful compositions are formally based on flowers, but they probably have much deeper symbolic meaning which we can only begin to imagine.

  • Large Medallion Suzani

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    • LotA94/180
    • OriginCentral Asia, South West Uzbekistan
    • Dimensions271 x 172 cm
    • AgeCa. 1800 or earlier
    • Result EUR36,900
    • Result GBP32,601
    • Result USD41,867
    • LotA94/196
    • OriginNorth Africa, Tunisia
    • Dimensions264 x 203 cm
    • AgeCa. 1800
    • Result EUR6,150
    • Result GBP5,434
    • Result USD6,978