A casualty of the Bolshevik Revolution and the Cold War, these vibrantly colored Russian textiles remain little known even today.
I first encountered Russian textiles — floral, paisley and striped fabrics from the early 20th century — on the pages of a magazine. I was immediately drawn to the full blown rose motifs I also adore on Bessarabian (Russo-Romanian) rugs. Essentially, these fabulous fabrics are a Russian version of chintz (though not glazed). During the early 1900s, they were inexpensive and made in these especially vibrant colorways for export to Central Asia. Today they are collector’s items and the images are a sampling from the book Russian Textiles: Printed Cloth from the Bazaars of Central Asia, by Susan Meller (Abrams, $35). This is a book I would love to read and own (I’ve added a link below) but I’ve been saving these images for too long and wanted to show them as I am so in love with these color combinations. The white-floral fabric with red-tipped leaves on a sky blue ground [top] shows a slight French influence and makes me think of vintage wallpaper.
While most of these textiles were used for clothing, some became backing for suzanis, embroidered Uzbek hangings. (Both Allison and I adore suzanis and were happy to find a seller of elegant suzani pillow covers in Tashkent a few years ago. ) Red roses are often seen in chintz but the brownish-fuchsia background is what sets this design apart.
Saffron and deep purple was a 1920s combination. The way this fabric reads, however, reminds me of an Indian calico (from Calcutta) – which is the original inspiration for chintz later made in England and France.
This striped fabric, with circular wildflower motifs, looks contemporary enough to be used in any lavender-leaning décor today. Or yesterday.
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