Robe (chapan), mens, synthetic fabric / cotton / imitation gold thread, designer and maker unknown, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 2000-2003
This man's embroidered ceremonial or special occasion robe (chapan), to be worn with the Chust-type cap and waistcloth, was part of a diplomatic gift presented to the Museum in 2004 by the Government of Uzbekistan. The gift was in recognition of the partnership established between the Museum and the Uzbek Ministry of Cultural Affairs for the loan exhibition 'Bright flowers: textiles and ceramics of Central Asia'. This exhibition featured a selection of objects from state museums in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan, including the large dowry embroideries known as suzanis, embroidered robes and dresses, and decorative ceramics spanning ten centuries. Together with other items of dress, the robe serves not only as a tangible symbol of this partnership, but also represents the continuity of the Central Asian tradition of diplomatic gifts of decorative robes.
In the past, robes like this were typically worn by men at both courtly and festive occasions. This particular robe demonstrates the changes in production over time in Uzbek textile tradition as inexpensive commercial imported fabrics have been used and it has been machine finished. This reflects the relatively high demand for robes like this which are not today reserved exclusively as gifts for diplomats and other important officials, but are frequently worn at weddings, birthdays and other celebrations.
Kalter, Johannes & Pavaloi, M (eds.)., 'Heirs to the Silk Road - Uzbekistan' (London and New York, 1997)
Sumner, Christina & Petherbridge, Guy, 'Bright flowers: textiles and ceramics of Central Asia' (Powerhouse Publishing, Sydney, 2004)
Assistant Curator Design & Society 2009
Principal Curator Design & Society 2011
This robe has been machine made from Russian imported fabrics.
Between 17 September 2004 and 20 February 2005, the Powerhouse Museum hosted the exhibition 'Bright Flowers: textiles and ceramics of Central Asia', which was curated by Christina Sumner and featured selected objects from state museums in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. During her four visits to Central Asia for the development of this exhibition, the curator forged strong links with Government agencies, including those in Uzbekistan.
This robe, the Chust-type cap and waistcloth comprised a formal gift to the then-Director, Dr Kevin Fewster from Mr Erkin Ernazarov on behalf of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs of the Government of Tashkent in Uzbekistan during a visit to Sydney in April 2004. In return for the robes, which reflect Central Asia's long tradition of diplomatic gifts, the Museum presented the three delegates with Akubra hats.