Horse Blanket

About this object

History of use

Used during wedding processions and other important ceremonies. Many of the textiles used in constructing the patchwork were reclaimed from other sources, which is a common practice. The machine printed floral cotton textiles used in the patchwork are undoubtedly of Russian origin; Russian textiles were widely traded in Central Asia (see 'Russian Textiles: Printed Cloth for the Bazaars of Central Asia'). The use of certain patterned textiles, such as the maroon floral pattern at the top of this piece, makes it possible to date its manufacture to the mid 20th century, or later. This pattern was produced in Russian mills in the 1950s and 1960s, when the Russian economy had recovered sufficiently to produce textiles for export to other regions in Central Asia. The specific cultural group associated with the blanket is unknown; possibly Uzbek, Kazak, Kirghiz or Tajik?

Iconographic meaning

The complexity of patchwork in Central Asia was believed to ensnare evil forces and influences and therefore to protect the user. The use of ikat textiles in the patchwork, usually associated with person of high rank, conveyed dignity and strength to the user.

Specific techniques

Patchwork, known as 'caroq' in Afghanistan.

Physical description

Colourful, decorative patchwork horse blanket. Roughly square in shape, but widened at the tail end by means of narrow triangular strips sewn on each side. The central design field is a patchwork of large multi-coloured squares: some squares contain small patchwork designs, some are solid-coloured, others contain embroidered designs and some are solid-coloured squares edged with cross-stitched borders. The central design field is bordered with a row of smaller multi-coloured squares, edged in solid black. The materials used to construct the squares are embroidered cottons, ikat silks, plain cotton broadcloth and machine printed cottons. Some elements are reclaimed from other sources. It is edged with tan commercially made, long (11.5 cm), twisted cotton(?) fringe along the back and sides of the tail end. The object is backed with striped and machine printed cotton textiles, which are pieced together; there is a light layer of cotton batting between the top and the backing.