Khan-atlas – the lord of silk

Khan-atlas is a reflection of the clouds on a piece of material, so beautiful, that it is able to outshine the beauty of the girl.

In the legend of the royal silk it is said that one day one of Margilan rulers fell in love with the daughter of a poor weaver, and decided to make her his fifth wife. The girl’s father fell at the feet of Khan and requested to release his young daughter. The governor agreed, but only on condition that by the morning of the weaver will create something so beautiful that it is able to outshine the beauty of the girl.

The old man went saddened to the banks of the ditch, where he spent a long time thinking, not noticing the rain mixed with his tears. Suddenly, rain stopped and the clouds appeared in the sky, he saw the reflection on the water. The clouds were painted in all colors of the rainbow. And then he said – “Oh, heavens, I thank you for the idea!”. After coming to his workshop, he worked through the night and in the morning he spread out the unseen before fabric in front of the Khan – iridescent, airy like a cloud and light as air.

Further, in all the sources of this legend there are the words of the old man – “I took the green leaves, bathed in the rain, added color of tulip petals, blush of dawn, blue night sky, sun glare on the fast-flowing water ditch, shiny eyes of my beloved daughter and mixed all.” The governor was shocked by the beauty of the fabric, so that he forgot about his bride and agreed to let her go. Incredibly beautiful fabric was called Khan silk – Khan-atlas.

Its proud name the fabric bears for many centuries. Royal silk pleases with its beauty everyone who looks at him, enveloping its wearer with tenderness and freshness.

Rainbow silk fabric is an integral part of Uzbek culture. Margilan silk is famous for the unique pattern in the East and the West. It was a valuable commodity in the times of the Great Silk Road, through which it was exported to Khorasan, Egypt, Baghdad, Greece and other countries.  Khan-atlas was given as a gift, was inherited, and even used as means of payment in commercial transactions.

Initially, the center was silk production was Bukhara, but then most colorful fabrics were produced in Margilan.  Silk craftsmen of this city of Fergana valley have their own unique technology for extracting the thread from the cocoon and dyeing of fibers. The process of manufacturing of fabrics by hand is very time-consuming, it includes up to forty segments.

First, cocoons are cooked in boiling water, then thin yarns are drawn from cauldron. Yarns are painted only in natural dyes. Colors and patterns are applied in advance, before the material is woven.

As dyes are used pomegranate peel, onion peel, madder, extracts from roots, fruits, leaves of plants. The special painting technique creates a unique pattern, with blurred contours. This figure is called the abr – cloud, the Europeans know it as ikat.

It is worth noting that the modern automated process of creating khan-atlas is different from the handmade by the masters. Factories paint a ready-made fabric, and craftsmen originally applied dyes to yarn and only then tie up the basics.

In earlier times, only the rich people could afford the clothes of khan-atlas. Gradually the royal silk became more accessible. Each girl was proudly wearing apparel, made of this material. However, in the age of globalization, khan-atlas gradually went out of daily use. Women captured by the idea of progress changed costumes to contemporary.

It is gratifying that today khan-atlas regained its kingdom again beautifying women of Uzbekistan. Traditional artisans have revived the process of making the national fabric, and young designers built it into a special grade, creating a modern models from national fabrics.

Interestingly, Khan-atlas can be seen on the podiums of the world, in the collections of famous designers such as – John Galliano, Gucci, Oscar de la Renta and others.

Today, as many centuries ago, Khan-atlas is a brand of Uzbekistan. Iridescent silk continues to reign among other tissues, pleasing their owners with brightness, tenderness and beauty.