Genuine art, no matter when and where it was born, never fails to move us. This equally applies to folk art, in all its forms and genres. An important feature of this art is its indissoluble bond with the native country in which the landscape itself seems to suggest the natural forms and means of artistic expression. Among the Tajik ornamental applied arts the most popular is embroidery, a decorative handicraft, apparently simple but giving ample scope to creative imagination.
The art of cloth ornamentation has been known to the Tajiks for many centuries. Among the archaeological findings in the Sogdian castle on Mount Moog there were numerous pieces of cloth dating from the 7-th and 8-th centuries A. D. The study of these findings led to discovery of certain parallels in details and in the general character of ornament with embroidery of the 19-th and the 20-th centuries.
Embroidery has always been important in the ornamentation of the Tajik costume and home.
In the house every part of the wall is filled with embroidered articles of different purpose and use, ranging from small things, like pouches for combs, a mirror (oinakhalta), tea (choikhalta], to bigger items, like suzanehs. Xiches in the walls are covered with special embroideries. Embroidered strips, zar-devori, hang along the upper part of three walls - the two longitudinal and one end-wall. At the time of the nuptials one can see here skull-caps and dresses of the bride which add to the decor of the room. A prominent place is occupied by men's saches (rumols) of the bride's own make. Hanging on the walls they demonstrate her affection for the bridegroom. The balanced pro-portions between the decor and the size of the room testify to the artistic taste of the people. The embroidered pieces, varied as they are in form, color and motif, never produce an impression of chaos. In combination they create a harmonious colorful unity which largely depends on the disposition of bigger embroideries. Thus, the biggest things, suzanehs and borpushes, are usually placed on the wall facing the entrance, so that they should be the first one could see on entering the room. The smaller items will complete the general impression during a more detailed examination of the room. Though each embroidered thing has its definite traditional place, one cannot help feeling that there is a certain tendency to make the interior of every room individual and out of the ordinary. This unconventionality, characteristic of folk art in general, is also typical of embroidery. In a Tajik's daily life embroidery has always been an important element, ac-companying him from his very first steps. One can only wonder at joyous, colorful, optimistic works that were produced by embroidery dresses even in the most difficult times.
Tajik embroidery discloses a whole world of poetic imagery. For all the infinite diversity of embroidered articles, compositional variants and an individual approach to every single work, they have a number of common elements in the pattern, forms of ornament and the technique of execution.
In Tajik embroidery one can distinguish many varieties and types of ornamentation. Differences in forms and images, coloring and decorative rhythms can be explained by the natural environment of Tajikistan. The severe and majestic mountains of the Pamir interchange with the soft tranquility of green valleys; the brightly lit yellow steppes pass into gardens and woods; the impetuous roaring rivers flow into quiet crystal lakes and the coolness of alpine grassland turns into the sultriness of the plain. This abundance of natural contrasts, the beauty and exuberance of vegetation were in a great measure reflected in the art of the people, particularly in embroidery.
The Mazing colors in the embroideries of one Tajik district contrast with the tender, soft tones of works produced in another district. The clear-cut precise lines of the mountain-country ornament are quite different from the gentle con-tours of the plain compositions. This allows us to distinguish between two types of Tajik embroidery: embroidery produced in the mountains and that produced on the plains. For all their numerous distinctions, they are strongly influenced by one another. In the boundless sea of popular embroidery there are some centres notable for their local original traits - the ancient cities of Ura-Tubeh, Samarkand, Leninabad (Khujand), Bukhara and their environs. In the mountains the production is concentrated in the Kulyab Group, Karateghin and Darvaz and in the Pamirs. The other territories producing good embroidery (Kanibadam, Asht, Pendjikent, Nurek, Isfara, the kishlak (village) of Sina, Karatag, Nurata) have the stylistical peculiarities of one or another of the above-mentioned centres. Not all of these centres, however, have been studied equally well. Research has mainly been done in Bukhara, Samarkand and a few mountain districts, while many other centres of the industry have been out of eyeshot of the scholars. Each of these centres has its own typical ornamental motifs, coloring, assortment of production, peculiarities of technique and choice of materials.