A glimpse of the Ichan Kala – the walled city of Khiva

This minaret dominates the Khiva skyline, once acting as a lighthouse to guide weary camel caravans towards the end of their journey.

My home by the Harem, which is just behind the building. We added the pillared balconies later as my Uzbek family ploughed their tourist income back into improvements.

The small Madrassah in the foreground is our carpet workshop, right in the heart of the Old City.

Jahongir, one of the dyers, at work in our workshop courtyard, with skeins of madder-root red silk in the foreground

Skeins of silk in the storeroom. Natural dyes create subtle variations in colour that leave the carpets with a depth and luminescence that cannot be achieved with chemical dyes

Often the same 'naqsh' or designs appear in the carved wooden pillars and doors, the majolica wall-tiles and the painted ceilings of the Khan's palaces.

 

Often tiles were positionedwith border and field designs to mimic hanging carpets. We called this design 'damchigul' which means 'ripple-flower'

And here's the carpet we wove from the same design.

This is the door to the Divan Begi Madrassah....

And here's the finished carpet with the weavers sitting on it.

Our brief was to revive 15th century Timurid carpet designs. Not easy when few carpets have withstood the test of time. This fragment is now in the Benaki museum in Greece.

This is the carpet we wove, including a classic Timurid border design.

For mostof our Timurid carpets we had to look to illustrated Persian manuscripts such as this miniature of Shah Rukh sitting on a beautiful carpet.

This is what the carpet would look like without a Shah sat on it.

This miniature by master Behzad illustrates how the orange pigment 'miniat' gave miniatures their name.

And our version of the carpet. You can see the more floral arabesques breaking out of the traditional geometric patterns, which would evolve into the 16th century rugs consindered classical Persian.


My Uzbek family over new year. Our new year tree always looked as if a box of decorations had been simply shaken over it.

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