Online Talk by Professor Elmira Gyul (Institute of Art Studies of Uzbekistan) on 29 October 2020 at 5.30pm – 6.45pm (LONDON), 9.30pm – 10.45pm (TASHKENT)

Professor Elmira Gyul is Doctor of Art Criticism and Chief Researcher at the Institute of Art Studies of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Elmira graduated from Tashkent State University (now National University named after Mirzo Ulugbek) with a degree in the History of Art. In 2003, she defended her doctoral thesis on The Problem of Ethno-Cultural Interaction in the Antique and Medieval Art of Uzbekistan.

Since then, she has authored a number of monographs dedicated to the decorative and applied arts of Uzbekistan, to name just a few: Gardens of Heaven and Gardens of Earth. Embroidery of Uzbekistan: Hidden Meanings of the Sacred Texts (Moscow 2013), Architectural Décor of the Temorids’ Epoch: Symbols and Meanings (Tashkent 2014), Carpets of Uzbekistan: History, Aesthetics and Semantics (Tashkent 2019), etc.

Elmira is a prolific writer: she has published numerous articles exploring various aspects of the Uzbek decorative and applied arts. She was invited to many international conferences as the speaker and an expert on the carpets weaving. Elmira is a member of the Academic Council of the International Multimedia Project “Cultural Heritage of Uzbekistan in the World Collection”.


The subject of the talk is dedicated to ikat. The literal meaning of the word ikat is ‘to tie’ or ‘to bind’, originating from the Malay term mengikat. This relates to a dyeing technique used to pattern textiles:  it employs resist dyeing on the warp or weft yarns prior to weaving the fabric. This term was offered by the European scholars at the beginning of the 20th century. Also, the term ikat means fabrics made in this technique.

In her talk, the speaker will explore how ikat has been utilised locally and globally as the exponent of various ideas in different historical periods, starting from the early Islam in the 7th century up to the 21st century. This talk will take us on the journey starting from the Sogdian period, through the Great Silk Road, the Arab invasion, followed by the Great Game, Bukharan Empire all the way to the USSR, finishing it off with the examples of how ikat has been presented by the world-famous couturier in the West and the contemporary artists.  The talk is an illustration of how ikat has been used as manifestation of multiple religious ideas, symbol of political ambitions, a fashion world fetish, and a phenomenon of modern art. These transformations are as diverse as the patterns of this amazing fabric which has fascinated us for centuries.