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Woman’s full-length, A-line, colourful robe (chapan), with long tapered sleeves; open at centre front from neck to hemline, no closures; made of red, yellow, dark red-purple and blue warp-ikat silk textile (abr), woven with patterned silk warp and red silk weft, giving the textile a pinkish background. The front opening is wide through the chest area then tapers inward and overlaps slightly at the hemline. Lightly quilted, with cotton batting. Gathering at the sides just under the sleeves. 16 cm vertical slits at each side at the hem. All edges trimmed with narrow green, black and white loop-manipulated warp twined technique. Lined with off-white cotton textile, machine printed with small gray circular motifs; sleeves lined with brown plaid cotton textile; edges of the body of the garments are faced on the inside with bias strips of multi-coloured ikat textile (silk warp, cotton weft); sleeves faced with bias strips of striped cotton textile.

History Of Use

Ikat robes were worn by men, women and children of various cultures. Women’s robes incorporate extra fullness under the sleeves, for wearing ease, and the front opening is typically wide at the chest area, to show the lavish jewelry that women often wore. Robes were worn on top of a shirt, tunic or dress and with wide drawstring pants. Several robes may have been worn at once, layered one over another, to display rank and/or wealth. The colourful printed cotton textiles which were typically used to line robes made in Central Asia were manufactured in Russia for the Central Asian market, as was the striped bias-cut cotton textile that was used as facings on all the edges (called the lapse). Abr silk is ikat textile woven with silk in both warp and weft. Abr means cloud. Following the Russian Revolution, the workshops that made ikat robes like this one, which had been organized around family and social networks, were disbanded by the Soviet government, replaced by collective practices in factories. Eventually the making and wearing of ikat robes disappeared.


Joanna Staniszkis purchased this robe and other robes in the 3231 accession in Istanbul, shortly after the dissolution of the USSR; the robes had been previously stored in trunks for a considerable length of time.

Specific Techniques

Hand woven warp-ikat technique; shiny surface possibly created with an egg glaze. The decorative trim on this robe was produced by a loop manipulation technique, which requires two people working together. One worker holds multiple loops of thread, of various colours, under tension with his fingers, creating warp sheds that are switched between the fingers of one hand and those of the other hand, while another worker inserts a weft into each shed and attaches the threads down onto the surface of the garment with a needle. The result is a multicoloured band with a repeated pattern.

Iconographic Meaning

Ram’s horn motifs represent the warding off of spirits. The decorative braid or embroidery on all outside edges of ikat robes was believed to be an essential part of the garment, as it prevented evil spirits from infecting the wearer.

Item History

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