Suzani Embroidery, ca. 1850
Appraised Value: $10,000
IMAGE: 1 of 2
Appraisal Video: (3:19)
Rugs & Textiles
Peter Pap Oriental Rugs of San Francisco, Inc.
GUEST: It was given to me by my grandfather and grandmother. It's from my grandfather's family. He's a European that was born and raised in Egypt and Austria. This was something his mother passed on to him, and she must have bought it in Egypt, I can only guess, or Austria.
APPRAISER: How long have you had it?
GUEST: I've had it about six months. During my last visit I found it in their laundry room folded up and took it to them and asked what they were going to do it with it, and they said I could have it.
APPRAISER: Well, you've brought in a wonderful textile today. This is a suzani embroidery, and suzani is a textile that is woven in Central Asia in Uzbekistan.
GUEST: Oh, really?
APPRAISER: Yes, in the town of Nurata, and this is formerly the emirate of Bukhara. It's from the mid-19th century, so it's about 150 years old.
GUEST: Okay, well, that's older than I thought it was.
APPRAISER: There was trade all over the Middle East, and so it's not surprising at all that these would have been marketed in Egypt. The name "suzani" refers to the Farsi word "suzan" which is "needle," so it's needlework. It's executed in silk embroidery on a cotton ground, and the technique is fascinating. First they draw the design on narrow strips. You'll see the seams here.
GUEST: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
APPRAISER: There's five or six seams. So they have the seams all together and they draw the design on the plain cloth. Then they take the strips apart and they start doing the embroidery over the design that they've drawn. The design influence is actually coming from the Indian Mughal tradition. So at lot of these floral sprays are reminiscent of what you found in the Mughal art. This retains its original color, which is just great. It's got the beautiful natural dyes that you would expect in a mid-19th-century piece. These pieces were made by the bride and the bride's family for a dowry gift as part of the wedding. So they had huge ceremonial importance, and very often, they were only used once and then put away in a chest. The condition of this thing is just fabulous. There are some condition issues, however, with the ground. The cotton ground does have some discoloration. And these are very, very tricky to clean. And they have to be given to just the right person. It might retain some of these sort of rust spots. But overall, uh, I think it would clean up well. There's little bits of folk art if you look around the medallion. This is a classic collectible suzani. They're very popular. They're being copied today, and the copies are everywhere, and they're relatively inexpensive. And the lay person can't really tell the difference but the ground in the pieces that I've seen that are the copies is sort of a shiny, silky background, and it doesn't resemble the cotton ground of the old pieces at all. I would put a value of this at $10,000.
APPRAISER: It is really a wonderful piece.
GUEST: Thank you. Gosh, that's fabulous.
This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2013 WGBH Educational Foundation.
ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.