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    Nargiza Yusupova: An International Master of Traditional Uzbek Embroidery

    (Photo: Nargiza Yusupova)

    Nargiza Yusupova, an expert Uzbek embroiderer, is changing the ways of Uzbek embroidery with her dedication to serving its traditions and spreading them throughout the world in bright colors. 

    Originally from Bukhara, Uzbekistan, Nargiza is familiar with the rich cultural heritage of her home country.  Embroidery was a family tradition that first started with her great-great-grandmother, and Nargiza has kept it alive by taking it to a new level. For Nargiza, embroidery is a profession, yes. But it is also a passion that connects her to her family’s generations.

    Celebrating the vivid colors of Uzbek textiles, her work stands out thanks to her dedication to the traditional ways of this embroidery. Early on, she committed herself to reviving the intricate and time-consuming techniques of past generations as she saw that simpler, quicker techniques were quickly replacing them. Nargiza felt that these newer techniques did not do justice to the traditional beauty of Uzbek embroidery, and by sticking with authentic practices, she ensured that her work became a part of history. 

    The quality of Nargiza’s embroidery is made known by her use of slightly twister silk threads, which are different from the tightly twisted threads typically used by other embroiderers. Her unique material choice gives her designs a distinct appearance and texture compared to others. When dying the silks, she uses natural dyes for a softer pallet. Madder root gives her red colors, while larkspur and apricot roots give her yellows.

    In 2017, Nargiza participated in the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, NM, where she shared her works with artists from across the world. She also earned a spot in “Hunarmand,” an exclusive national association for skilled craftsmen and artisans in Uzbekistan. This membership demonstrates her expertise and significant contributions to the art of embroidery. 

    Beyond this, Nargiza has seen her works featured in several major Uzbek publications, and she has become a highly respected figure in her community. In 2018, she authored and published her first book, “Silk Has Become a Flower by Creative Labor,” which discusses the history and methods of traditional Uzbek embroidery. By publishing this book, she hopes to share her knowledge and expertise with others to keep this historical art alive. 

    Each showcase outside the borders of her own country is an opportunity for her to act as a cultural ambassador for Uzbekistan. Her naturally dyed and hand-twisted traditional materials highlight the uniqueness of her work compared to mass-produced fabrics. 

    Now, Nargiza has her eyes set on the United States. She hopes to bring her unique skills and beautiful art to a new international market that will appreciate the beauty of her work. She believes that her work can significantly contribute to the artistic and commercial environments in the US, bringing Americans access to the beauty of Uzbek traditional embroidery. Furthermore, she sees this as yet another opportunity to enrich the cultural diversity of her new home while continuing to honor her cultural roots. 

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    Nargiza’s story is one of passion and dedication. Through her traditional embroidery, she connects the past to the present, bringing honor to her family and her country. She also helps to bring the stories and traditions of Uzbekistan to the global stage. As she expands her reach to the US, she holds immense potential to influence and enrich the art landscape. 

    About the Author

    Elara Thomson is a freelance writer specializing in cultural stories and international arts. Living in Chicago, she explores and writes about the evolving stories of art and culture from around the world. 


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