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An Enchanting and Unique Selling Exhibition to Open at the Afridi Gallery on 7th June 2018.

 March 2018

On 7th June 2018, the Afridi Gallery opens Gardens of Delight, a sensational new selling exhibition of exceptionally rare suzanis. It will be a unique opportunity to encounter a collection of such museum quality. These wonderfully original textiles will compliment the gallery’s purpose of displaying ‘objects to inspire’ - objects which are distinctive and emotionally provocative artworks with great aesthetic or sculptural presence.


Suzanis are beautiful handwoven silk embroideries originating from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The Afridi Gallery’s exhibition features eight exquisite examples from the 19th century. The name ‘suzani’ is derived from the Farsi word for ‘needle’ and the fabrics were originally dowry weavings made by a bride’s family to present to the groom on her wedding day.


A bridal dowry gift of needlework or weaving is an ancient custom believed to have existed in most civilisations at one time or another. The textiles were an expression of a bride-to-be’s wealth and domestic skills, although suzanis were also an important media for artistic expression in Central Asia and through them we can trace a visual language stretching back millennia. In Central Asian, however, tribal society weddings were important because they fused two families and secured the future of a tribe for at least another generation. Therefore the suzanis are typically adorned with decorative motifs that symbolise luck, health, long life and fertility. Over several centuries their patterns have evolved into highly sophisticated designs that are frequently floral. A typical suzani might resemble a canopy of dense foliage, blossoming into vivid crimsons and deep maroons. The plants are arranged into a series of rhythmically recurring forms that create the image of ordered chaos. The manner is neither particularly naturalistic nor abstract, but attractively stylised.


It was fundamental to the suzani tradition that entirely new embroideries be made for every wedding and fashions changed with each generation. To make the suzanis, lengths of undyed cotton were bought from the market and sewn together to create a generous expanse of fabric, onto which traditionally the grandmother would draw a design in ink. Various female members of the family would then embroider the different panels in their spare time, although the bride did the majority of the work. Early suzanis from the mid 1700s to around 1875 are the most sought after today, many were brought to the West as prized treasures by 19th century travellers.


The Afridi Gallery on Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea is delighted to be hosting this exhibition of rare 19th century suzanis beside its own collection of 20th century furniture and design objects. They are some of the finest embroideries of museum quality to come to the market in decades and is the first of several selling exhibitions of this kind. The exhibition will run from Thursday, 7th June until Thursday, 5th July 2018.


Afridi 76 Royal Hospital Road London SW3 4HN


For more press information, to receive images or arrange an interview, please contact Anthea Roberts:

Notes to editor:


The Afridi Gallery is specifically designed to let objects speak for themselves, creating an intriguing dialogue between different art forms, united by their aesthetic quality and mastery of execution.




Star Medallion and Flowers, Ura-Tube, Emirate of Kokand, first half of the19th century, 179 x 212 cm, silk embroidery on a cotton foundation with a ceramic bowl by Paul Philp, ‘Weeping Willow’ Charger by David Leach, a wooden carved form by Robert Adams on a Satinwood Geo table, British design, circa 2016


Ascending Trailing Stems, Kermina, Bukhara region, Emirate of Bukhara (Present day Uzbekistan), first half of the 19th century, 152 x 226 cm, silk embroidery in basma technique on a cotton foundation


Flowers in Curling Lattice, Karshi, Emirate of Bukhara, first half of the 19th century or earlier, 197 x 233 cm, silk embroidery on a cotton foundation, £55,000 with side chairs in the style of Rigmor Andersen, English, 2017, Fruitwood, cane and leather and a group of contemporary Japanese glass bottles. Created using an ancient traditional glass blowing technique.

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