When Michael Franses and Robert Pinner wrote their seminal article on these fabulous embroideries only eight examples were known, Franses (1978), pp. 128 – 133. On re-examining the subject Franses has amended this number to fifty four known examples, Franses (2001), pp. 93 - 97. The group has been broken up into ten differing sub groups to which the present lot belongs to group A, comprising twenty known examples. Typical of the group a pointed hexagonal central medallion centred by concentric circles framed by ‘rams horn’ shaped spirals, Franses records that there are usually up to six of these, Franses, ibid, p. 95 – perhaps referring only to the circles and not the horned rings?; The present lot has thirteen rings of one type or another, from the centre outwards blue, orange, pink leaves, green 'Sultans heads', yellow and black band, blue 'sun', red 'niches', orange, green serrated 'leaves', pink band, red circle, pink 'Sultans heads' and green niches - encircled with the black and yellow 'rams horns'. With eight ‘spines’ or ‘spokes’ issuing from this and four larger rosettes in each corner flanked by smaller examples. The group usually has a narrow border flanked by motifs, the present examples only framed with the narrow border.
Interestingly in terms of wildness in design and bold, vivacious, colours the present example is most in keeping with a nim susani, recorded by Franses, op. cit, p. 96, fig. 4, in a private Massachusetts collection and belonging to group B, of which there are only three examples - all of which are nim susanis. However the dyes are so compellingly similar it is perhaps possible that these nim susani were initially conceived as a suite to be accompanied with a larger medallion, such as the present lot, for the bridal party. Sadly without more evidence this is purely theoretical but an interesting notion. One of these, again with similar exuberant dyes from the Vok collection, sold Rippon Boswell, Wiesbaden, 12 March 2016, lot 134 for €69,540. Examples of the extraordinary large medallion embroideries are published in notable collections such as the Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf Collection, Grube (2003) no. 1. Grube also lists the other known publications of other large medallion susanis, Grube, ibid, appendix notes 1. Also a further published example, formerly in the hugely celebrated collection of Dr Ignacio Vok, Vok (2006) no. 79, which sold Rippon Boswell, Wiesbaden, 11 April 2015, lot 88 for €103,700.
Dating of these works has been debated, however Franses and Pinner suggest that the large medallions susanis are likely to be amongst the earliest, when compared to other susanis, op cit, p. 132. There are susanis with early inscribed dates, for example see Grube (2003), p. 6, fig. 19 for a Shakhrisabz susani dated 1146 AH (1734 AD), which example is also comparable to the Shakhrisabz susani, lot 92 in this sale. On the basis of Franses and Pinner's researches and dated susani such as the example cited, an 18th century date for this group is considered likely.
"The powerful group of Large Medallion susanis began to appear on the market in the early 80s.1 The dealer’s and collector’s chase was on. In the year 2000 a great book was edited by Michael Franses listing all the pieces so far known, including this example as A7." (EH)
1 By 2013, Hali had recorded 15 large medallion susanis as having appeared at auction since the early 1990s, see Hali, (Autumn 2013), Marketplace, p. 120
Franses (1978): Franses. M. & Pinner. R., 'Large Medallion Suzani from South-West Uzbekistan', Hali, 1978, Vol 1. No. 2, pp. 128–133.
Franses (2001): Franses. M., 'Flower Power', Hali, March-April, 2001, issue 115, pp. 93-97
Grube (2003): Grube. E., Keshte Central Asian Embroideries The Marshall and Marilyn R. Wolf Collection, New York, 2003, p. 6, fig. 19
Vok (2006): Dr Ignacio Vok, Vok. I., Suzani 2. A Textile Art from Central Asia (Text by Jakob Taube) Munich, 2006, no. 79
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