Introducing this Lakai Needlepoint set of four 16″ x 16″ silkscreen prints. Colors: black, charcoal, and scarlet on white. Source: Lakai Silk Needlepoint Ilgutch, Central Asia, 19th century. Photographed at a Skinner Auction, Boston, April 2019.
The Lakai are a tribe of ethnic Uzbeks historically known for their horsemanship and fighting skills. Originally from the region around Bukhara, in Eastern Uzbekistan, they presently live in a few small villages around Kunduz in northern Afghanistan. They came into prominence during the mid 1970s, when their bag-faces, patchworks, pouches, hats, and embroideries appeared on the Afghan market. The designs of their small, square, and shield-shaped wall hangings embroidered in silk are quite unlike the floral works of the town and village dwellers of northern Afghanistan. These designs are highly abstracted and often asymmetric in composition.
The word ilgutch means pouch or container, but among the Lakai it refers specifically to decorative embroidered pouches in pentagonal or rectangular shape.