Ethnography Museum

Top choice in Dushanbe

Sharing the same complex as the National Museum of Antiquities, this small museum houses an exquisite collection of traditional Tajikistan clothing (including a great set of woollen socks and gloves that seem disproportionately large for the average wearer) and some fine enamel jewellery in the form of amulets and earrings. The real gems of the collection, though, are the samples of vertically striped silk cloth known as 'atlas' – a fabric still worn by Tajikistani women on special occasions.

Produced by the country's famous silk and cotton weaving industry, centred on the Qaratog area and traditionally the work of men, atlas fabric is traditionally produced from natural pigments such as cochineal, pomegranate and indigo which combine to create the distinctive and dynamic colour ways of the yarn. Great skill is needed to produce the printed appearance of the finished woven fabric. Sadly, weaving is a dying art in the region largely due to the import of mass produced cloth from China which gives a printed, and much cheaper, imitation of atlas.

Photography is not permitted.

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