Face veil, womens, (chachvan), looped construction, horsehair/ cotton, unknown maker (gypsy nomad woman), Russian Turkestan, c. 1900

Made in Turkestan, c.1900.

Writing in 1886 of a visit to Central Asia, Lord Curzon noted that the beauty of the women of Bukhara could not be commented on because “their features were hidden behind a heavy horsehair veil, falling from the top of their head to the bosom.” These horsehair veils, or chachvans, were once a common sight. Dating from the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century, they were mandatory street wear for all urban Uzbek and Tajik women, from girls of a marriageable age ...

Summary

Object No.

2003/95/1

Physical Description

Face veil, womens, (chachvan), looped construction, horsehair/ cotton, unknown maker (gypsy nomad woman), Russian Turkestan, c. 1900

The predominantly dark brown woman's horsehair face veil is rectangular in shape and of looped construction. The veil is bound across the top and down the two long sides with a wide, matching brown cotton strip which has been machine-embroidered in white and pink. Across the fourth side (the lower edge which hangs down to the chest when the veil is worn), light coloured horsehair has been incorporated in the looping to provide a decorative edging. A button is sewn to the top left hand corner and a corresponding loop at top right for fastening the veil into a circle for placing on the head.

Dimensions

Height

780 mm

Width

470 mm

Production

Notes

The form and design of this horsehair face veil are typical. The lower unbound edge is ornamented with a wide border pattern in lighter horsehair, w hile the top edge and both long sides are bound with wide strips of matching brown cotton with decorative top stitching.

This stitching, in white cotton chain stitch, forms in an alternating fan design flanked by two rows of straight pink lines in running stitch. On either side is a row of white, continuous, interlocking diamond shapes - also in running stitch. In the top left and top right hand corners respectively are a button and a purple loop which, when joined, form a circle that sits on top of the woman's head.

Horsehair veils were made by gypsy women who had access to the black horsehair-tails necessary for production. The hair was soaked in water for several days before being used to render it pliable. Construction of the veil was by a horizontal looping method using several strands of the horsehair together, with new hairs being added in as needed.

Made

c.1900

History

Notes

Veils of this type were used by urban women in Russian Turkestan in conjunction with a head-to-toe body covering called a paranja. The chachvan was worn under the collar-band of the paranja (veiling cloak) from where it fell down over the face, serving more as a symbol of modesty and respectability than for the purposes of segregation.

This chachvan was given to the donor, Christina Sumner, by a woman vendor at the open air Sunday market in Urgut near Samarkand, Uzbekistan, in October 1999, after the donor purchased a paranja from her.

Used

Source

Credit Line

Gift of Christina Sumner, 2003

Acquisition Date

30 May 2003

Cite this Object

Harvard

Face veil, womens, (chachvan), looped construction, horsehair/ cotton, unknown maker (gypsy nomad woman), Russian Turkestan, c. 1900 2015, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 16 October 2018, <https://ma.as/12271>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/12271 |title=Face veil, womens, (chachvan), looped construction, horsehair/ cotton, unknown maker (gypsy nomad woman), Russian Turkestan, c. 1900 |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=16 October 2018 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

Incomplete

This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.

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