SOAS University of London

Brunei Gallery, SOAS University of London

Embroidered Tales and Woven Dreams

Jamavar, woven Kashmiri shawl. 1830-1850
Guest Curator: Marian Bukhari

Date: 20 January 2017Time: 10:30 AM

Finishes: 25 March 2017Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: Exhibition Rooms

Type of Event: Exhibition

An exhibition of traditional embroidered textiles from the lands of the Indus, Afghanistan, the Near East and Central Asia

The exhibition of this extraordinary collection consists of traditionally embroidered textiles found along the Silk Road and is comprised of examples of historical embroideries from the lands bordering the Indus, Afghanistan, Turcoman, Sogdiana and the Near East. 

These hand-woven articles, record the colours of natural dyes, stitches, patterns, motifs and the trade of woven cotton, wool and silk along the ancient trade routes. In a sense, these embroidered articles are stitches in the tapestry of the Silk Road. 

For political and economic reasons it was from these regions, that the people and their textiles, travelled long distances, to move and settle in new areas. As it was in the tribal and semi-tribal societies that these embroideries flourished, they became a record of their history, social customs, folk tales and myths as hereditary wisdom and skills were passed down from mother to daughter in an attempt to guard their techniques and traditions in textiles. 

This exhibition brings together several collections to display the high-level of abstraction and sophistication with which these pieces were made. Marian Bukhari, the Guest Curator, narrates a story of the communities who embroidered a peoples’ history of the Silk Road; presenting the context for their art and a description of their identity. The exhibition showcases examples of traditional local weaving and embroidery, as well as examples of the finer fabrics available from the ports of Cambay and the markets of Samarkand.

There will be a series of 8 public lectures accompanying the exhibition by internationally renowned speakers: HRH Princess Wijdan Al Hashemi; John Gillow; Bishop Michael Nazir Ali; Dr. Caroline Stone; Dr. Sussan Babaie; Dr. Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood; Dr. Saqib Baburi; Arjmand Aziz 

The exhibition and accompanying lecture programme were made possible due to the generous support of: Shaikh Yousef Abdul Latif Jameel; HE the Mayor of Makkah Dr Osama Bin Fadl Al Bar; London Middle East Institute, SOAS; The Bagri Foundation; Jack and Nancy Birt.

Related Lecture Series


To avoid disappointment please confirm attendance of lectures

Please note the exhibition will be open for an hour before each event (5-6pm)

Date Title
23 January 2017 Tribal Landscapes in Palestinian, Jordanian & Syrian Women's Embroidered Garments
30 January 2017 The Wandering Pastoralists of the Lower Indus Delta
6 February 2017 Monks, Magi and Mosques: Religion Along the Silk Road
13 February 2017 The Splendid Suzanis of Central Asia
22 February 2017 Turquoise Tiles & Arabesque Curves
8 March 2017 The Afghani, Kohistani and Swati Embroidered Tales
14 March 2017 Timurid Influences on Art and Conceptual Designs Across Central Asia and India
22 March 2017 The Phulkari Baghs of the Doab


Sample Images