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'Yodgorlik' Silk-weaving Mill

Ferghana Valley

From historical chronicles it is known that as far back as the beginning of the 1st millennium C. E. in Fergana Valley there was manufactured precious silk from the floss brought from China. In the 7th-8th centuries Ferghana masters began to breed the silkworm. To this very day the main Uzbek silk-weaving centers are in Ferghana Valley, with Marghilan being its ‘silk capital’. For centuries Marghilan silk was exported along the Great Silk Road arteries to Baghdad, Kashgar, Hurasan, Egypt, Greece, Byzantium and Russia.

‘Yodgorlik’ silk-weaving mill in Marghilan is considered to be the best enterprise manufacturing handmade silk in Uzbekistan. Set up in 1972, the mill was then the biggest enterprise of such kind in Ferghana Valley. Fifteen years ago the workers of the mill decided to revive the ancient craft of handmade silk; this craft has existed in Uzbekistan for over 2500 years. At the mill you can see the whole silk-making process from cocoons processing to finished product. Here, 450 workers, with majority of them being women, weave silk and cotton fabric. The mill’s monthly output is up to 6000 meters of natural silk, semi-silk and cotton fabric. This seems to be a very little amount for a big mill. But one should remember that they use the traditional technology of making the fabrics by hand – that is the same techniques Ferghana weavers used in ancient times.

Manual silk-weaving is a long and laborious process. But at Marghilan mill they still make hard-to-make traditional Uzbek fabrics adras, jujincha, bekasam and the most popular abr fabrics: khan-atlas (‘king’s silk’) and shoyee. Making fabrics with abr pattern is an art itself. The Uzbek word abr means ‘a cloud’. Abr pattern, one of the oldest and most favourite in Uzbekistan, indeed looks like flying clouds in the sky.

The preparation of the warp for abr silk fabric with blurred edges of pattern elements has been for a long time considered a special craft. First the floss is wound into a big skein and a master puts the pattern on it in spots or strokes. The parts that are not to be dyed are tightly wrapped around with a thick thread. Then the skein is dipped into the dye: the open parts of the skein get dyed; at the edges of the wrappings the dye stops but still leaks slightly inside, which later gives the pattern elements the blurring edges. The dyes are put one after another, depending on a pattern design. The number of dye colour varies from 2 to 7.

Then the skein is sent to a weaver. Manually operated looms have the same design for all types of fabrics; only the number and size of their harness frames differ. In the Middle Ages the width of the fabrics was 26.4 centimeters – this was the width of the loom frames. In the 19th century the width of the frames grew to 40 centimeters, and in the early 20th century they began using looms with wider frames – just like those ‘Yodgorlik’ mill weavers operate on today.

The abr patterns with blurred outlines make broad iridescent lancet design of various compositions. The oldest Marghilan abrband weavers found in their family archives the ancient recipes for the dyes and secrets of dyeing techniques to get combinations of stylized ovals, vegetal and geometrical pattern elements. You can see the process of making exquisite traditional Uzbek fabrics during an excursion round the mill. Those who wish to buy a length of gorgeous silk they take a fancy of, can do this on the spot.

Under long-term agreements the mill delivers its produce to India, Iran, Russia, Korea, and Germany. Many fashion designers value natural silk and cotton without synthetic admixture, and unique fabrics by Marghilan weavers have won worldwide recognition.

Today ‘Yodgorlik’ mill has business contacts with their partners from South Korea, India, Iran, Russia and Germany. Besides, a lot of tourists visit the mill. The production of handmade silk in Uzbekistan has been revived and prospers now thanks to the growing interest in the national traditions of dress.

Sightseeing Places in Ferghana Valley

Kokand: Marghilan:
Khudayar-Khan Palace Chakar Mosque
Dakhma-i-shakhan Royal Cemetery Seieed Ahmad Hajji Madrassah
Jami Mosque 'Yodgorlik' Silk-weaving Mil
Narbuta-bey Madrassah Pir-Siddik Architectural Complex
Modari-khan Mausoleum  
Rishtan: Kuva:
Rishtan Ceramics Center Buddhist Complex of Kuba Site
Andijan: Chust:
Jami Madrassah Chust Knives Manufacturing Workshop
Jami Mosque Namangan:
Zakhiriddin Babur architectural Complex Ancient Settlement of Aksikent