pardah (Textile)

About this object

History of use

May have been used as a bed cover (adiol) for a bride and groom, or could also have been used as a decorative wall hanging (pardah), curtain, room divider, etc. The printed cotton textile used to back this piece was undoubtedly produced in Russia, where there was a flourishing industry that produced printed textiles for the Central Asian market. The patterns used in ikat textiles vary greatly in response to changes in fashion and style. It is difficult to speculate about the cultural and geographic origins of ikat textiles made in the 20th century because protracted episodes of political unrest caused major movements of inhabitants across national borders during the Soviet era. For instance, entire workshops which traditionally produced ikats in Uzbekistan may have moved to Afghanistan in order to avoid collectivization, imposed by the political establishment.


According to Clarke Abbott of Tradewind Antiques, the person who collected this piece lived in Kabul in the early 1960s, doing ambassadorial work. He traveled widely throughout the area. He was killed in an automobile accident there, and no further information is available about him or his collection. The piece was subsequently acquired by Tradewind Antiques in Vancouver at an unknown date, and the Museum of Anthropology purchased it in 1984, when the business was liquidating its stock.

Specific techniques

Ikat production is a specialized, urban activity that involves the expertise of many separate groups of artisans who tie, dye and weave the textiles. Specialization for each of these activities is assigned to specific ethnic groups and follows strict tradition. The white line on one of the panels results from the positioning of the framework on which the weft yarns are wound during the dyeing process.

Physical description

Rectangular, multi-coloured silk ikat bed cover or wall hanging, constructed of three lengths of bright pink, white, blue-green and yellow warp-face ikat silk satin textile, seamed together vertically, and loosely quilted onto a backing of machine-printed cotton textile. The backing textile is pieced from two floral prints, one with orange and brown predominating, the other with red, yellow and brown predominating. The object is bound on all four edges with bright yellow-green silk dupioni textile, which forms a narrow edging on the front and a wider border on the back. Possibly used as a bed cover for a bride and groom.