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Uzbek Khan-Atlas

"Davron's workshop in the Fergana valley made traditional atlas silk - the national fabric of Uzbekistan. Most atlas silk was made on machines, but in Marghilan they had retained the traditional approach, making their workshop a mecca for textile enthusiasts. I visited his workshop a couple of months later and watched the complicated process of dyeing atlas silk using ikat dyeing, in which warp threads are bound according to a pattern and then immersed in dye-baths, building up a colour pattern through resist-dyeing, a kind of tie-dyeing. The reassembled warp threads are then woven with just one weft colour, creating a vertical blur of colours subtly bleeding into each other. A young weaver in love is credited with the invention of atlas silk. The object of his affections was the daughter of a wealthy landowner who showed no interest in the humble weaver. His only hope, she told him, was to dazzle her with the most beautiful fabric ever created. The besotted weaver set to work, but nothing he produced received more than a scornful glance. Finally - his hands worn to shreds - he gave up. Dejected, he went to a stream that ran near his workshop, dipping his bleeding hands in the waters. Blood-red blended with the shimmering yellow of the reflected sun and dashes of green from the overhanging trees and the patches of blue sky. Inspired, he rushed back to his loom and wove atlas silk. His shallow sweetheart fell passionately and predictably in love with both the design and the designer."

Christopher Aslan Alexander "A Carpet Ride to Khiva" 2010

History of Khan-Atlas tells that long time ago one of the rulers of Margilan who had four wives decided to marry for the fifth time. His choice fell on the young daughter of a poor weaver. Being annoyed, the girl's father fell on his knees before the old khan, asking him to withdraw from the girl. The khan replied that he would fulfill the request of a poor man, if the next morning he created something extraordinary that would make the Khan forget about the beauty of the girl. The sad weaver sat on the bank of the channel, not knowing what to do next. And suddenly he saw the reflection of clouds in the water, which were painted with a rainbow of colors after the last rain. "Oh, heavens, thank you for the idea!" - He cried and ran home to get to work immediately.

The next morning he wove an unusual cloth: light and airy as a cloud, cool like a pure mountain air and as iridescent as a rainbow. When the master brought this extraordinary fabric to the khan, he was shocked with its enchanting beauty, "How did you do that?" - He asked the weaver. And the weaver said: "I took green rain-washed leaves, added colors of tulip petals, the blush of dawn, blue night sky, patches of sunlight on the water and bright eyes of my beloved daughter and mixed everything up." The unusual fabric was called Khan-Atlas ("Khan silk"), and the khan married the weaver's daughter to his beloved son.