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Coming up soon: Bibi Hanum’s Presentation at the Smithsonian Exhibition

by Mukhayyo Alieva July 7, 2018

IN: Blog


Don’t miss this unique opportunity to hear about the history of Ikat fabrics and its production process at the Smithsonian Museum’s Freer Sackler Gallery.

To Dye For: Ikats from Central Asia

March 24–July 29, 2018

Gallery 24

With their brilliant designs, ikats are among the most distinct fabrics produced in Central Asia. The name, derived from the Malaysian word for “to tie,” refers to the distinct technique of making these textiles: bundles of threads are painstakingly patterned by repeated binding and dyeing before being woven. In present-day Uzbekistan and the Fergana Valley, the fabric is known as abri (cloud) and the technique as abrbandi (tying clouds), referring to the fluid yet bold motifs in bright colors.

Not surprisingly, ikats caught the attention of contemporary designers, most notably Oscar de la Renta (died 2014). In 2005, de la Renta included ikat designs in his collections, an innovation that was soon followed by other designers in the United States and elsewhere. Since then, ikat motifs have become ubiquitous—from couture gowns to jeans and T-shirts, and from carpets and sofa coverings to stationery and wall papers.

To Dye For: Ikats from Central Asia brings together about thirty of the finest historical Central Asian ikat hangings and coats from the Freer|Sackler collections, donated by Guido Goldman, as well as several of Oscar de la Renta’s iconic creations. The aim is to explore the original use and function of these dazzling fabrics and the enduring appeal of their extraordinary designs.

View highlights of the exhibition.

Check out our exhibition-related events.

Additional reading: Washington Post: Are these the most beautiful textiles in the world?

Sunday, July 8, 2018, 2 pm


Enter the world of contemporary ikat production in Uzbekistan with fashion designer and entrepreneur Muhayo Aliyeva, who founded the artisan enterprise Bibi Hanum. To celebrate the exhibition To Dye For: Ikats from Central Asia, Aliyeva will discuss the past and present cultural significance of ikat textiles in her native Uzbekistan. She’ll also speak about her work with contemporary ikat designers to sustain this important artistic tradition. This conversation will be moderated by Halle Butvin, director of special projects at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

Image courtesy Bibi Hanum


Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Event Location

Sackler, level B1 lobby

Photo Gallery

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