National Arts and Crafts of Uzbekistan
Silk production in Uzbekistan

Although the production of silk fiber and making of clothes is basically automated today, almost all silkworm breeding in Uzbekistan occurs within individual farms, where most of the cocoons are still bred as they have been, perhaps, since the 4th century.

From the end of April to the beginning of May, out of the stock of the previous agricultural years, the Uzbek Government distributes silkworm eggs of on average 20 grams to all farmers who wish to breed them.

The farmers prepare rooms equipped with large boxes with special flooring. All the silkworms require are mulberry leaves cut into small pieces. Stripped mulberry trees recover their branches by the next year. At the beginning of the process, 20 grams of silkworms occupy an area of 1 square meter and daily consume 3 kilos of leaves. But after several days of their sleeping cycle the awoken silkworms consume more and more. By the end of just the first month every silkworm, which was so microscopic at the beginning, grows to the size of a little finger; the whole stock of silkworms now occupy 2-3 rooms and consume 300 kilos of leaves every day! Then the silkworm suddenly stops eating and for about a week winds round itself a cocoon made of silk fiber. Some silkworms called "seminal" are separated to be kept for a few months, during which they lay eggs. The rest of the silkworms in cocoons are killed with steam, otherwise they will crawl out and unwind the silk fiber. Then every cocoon is boiled and carefully unwound. Usual a 3-4 centimeter cocoon produces from 800 to 1200 meters of fiber thread.

Silk material for making clothes is woven out of several wound threads of fiber.

On the whole, about 30,000 tons of cocoons are produced in Uzbekistan every year. The biggest silk weaving factory is in Margilan.

Silk production of Margilan

This small town, a 1 hr. drive from Kokand, is the center of Uzbekistan's silk producing industry. To watch the art of spinning and winding and dyeing and weaving silk by hand is a fascinating, unique experience. Over one thousand years of silk producing history have shaped the "ikat" style Margilan is renowned for. From traditional bright colors to color combinations of the latest fashion, you will find something to suit every taste.

Visit one of the private homes and small enterprises such as "Yodgorlik", where you are ushered from workshop to workshop to view firsthand the entire process, from the unraveling of the pure white silk thread off the cocoons to the abr, and the tying and dying to the final weaving into amazingly and miraculously patterned fabrics such as those to the right.

The looms of today do not differ much from the ones on display at the Andijan museum. Weavers smile, inviting you to watch their methodical work on a guided tour, with interpretation in English or Russian.

The cross-threads are woven in with gusto, the weavers snapping the loom into action with their right hands, so that the workshop is filled with the clapping sounds of art in motion.

More useful links:
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