I’m a big fan of using pillows to add texture, color and pattern to your furniture. If your design tastes change over time, you can swap the pillows for new ones to make a different look for the entire room. Lately I’ve been wanting to add some geometric Islamic designs, and a pillow is a great way to try a new pattern.
I found the perfect pillow at Arastan – a store in Bangalore, India and they sell online and ship worldwide.
It goes really well in our living room.
But this isn’t really a post about a pillow. I had the chance to pick up this pillow in person at Arastan when I was in Bangalore a few months ago. You get the idea from their website that they love textiles. Online, I learned that this embroidered pillow is from Khiva in Uzbekistan, and there is a single pomegranate hidden in its embroidery (can you find it?) and the pomegranate is a signature of where the pillow was made. The pillow’s designs were inspired by tiles found in Khiva. Arastan tells you all this and more on their website, where by the way, another pillow just like mine is available!
And they have one with different colors:
But I can tell you, when you visit them in person, you experience just how much they love textiles and the care with which they choose their goods. They took me on a trip through piles of carpets and cloth, and told me all about their origins in China, Japan, Myanmar and Laos. And then we went west to countries throughout the Middle East and Africa. Oh wow, it was an adventure! Everything I saw and touched was so well made too. You can flip the woven textiles from Laos over, and the backs look as good as the fronts. That’s a sign of some quality weaving.
I wanted to bring everything home. I saw this, a batik cushion from China which was once part of a woman’s headpiece:
And I saw the most glorious exuberant colorful Suzani there. I touched the super soft silks of Turkish tulip textiles, and brought this one home with me where it’s now draped over an armoire in our guest room:
They have similar Turkish tulip textiles online, like in this pillow:
Did you know the tulip craze started not in Holland, but in Turkey? Then it spread to Holland from there. Tulips were beloved in Turkey and are a common motif in Turkish textiles.
Arastan has much more than textiles in their online and real life store. I believe I saw this bench while visiting the store. It’s a refurbished Indian teak and cane bench, and I really like how they paired it with an Uzbek ikat cushion:
It’s a great example of how combining things from across cultures can create something new that has a lot of harmony to it.
I wish our apartment in India was ready for lighting because I was so tempted by filigreed Moroccan lamps and sconces from Fes that were all around the store:
You can also decorate yourself there – check out their jewelry!
Arastan’s blog gives you an in-depth story into crafts from countries along the fabled Silk Route, if you’d like to learn more.
It’s been a dream of mine to visit more countries along the Silk Road that ran from China to Europe. And for awhile, I was there, visiting many cultures and their creations, at Arastan. The store is in the Frazer Town area of Bengaluru (I keep calling the city by its old name, Bangalore) which very happily is near my husband’s Bangalore office. So I will visit again some day. Meanwhile, we can all visit these treasures online! If you visit their site, their default prices are in rupees but there are buttons to change them to dollars, Euros, etc.
5 Replies to “A Trip Along the Silk Route at Arastan”
I love your pillow Deb, really like the other color too and I found the pomengranate, that batik pillow is really nice too~
Thank you! :) I’m getting ready to sew pillows with sari fabric that will coordinate with these. The pillow behind the Arastan pillow is the thing that got my sewing obsession started – I loved that fabric so much, I sewed it by hand for days and days, and then got a sewing machine …
Also was joking with dad – none of you guys in Mich have seen my house! I should host Christmas some year – don’t know how many will want to come all the way over here though. Could take over an Amtrak train, wouldn’t that be fun?
Hey, we couldn’t have written that better ourselves! Thanks Deb for the great write-up, and it was lovely meeting you too.
Thank you Mike! I hope to visit again in ’14! Meanwhile I’ll certainly be visiting the website! :)