The art of Tatar embroidery - Nurislam Siraci

since January 2021


Text: Nurislam Siraji   (Translation: Alsu Q.)

The art of Tatar embroidery stems from ancient times. Its magnificent samples, formed during the times of the Golden Horde, Volga Bulgaria and the Kazan Khanate have developed, improved and transferred to a contemporary embroidery.


Kazan Tatar embroidery is famous for its floral motif. Tatars have been using the motif on clothes, table cloths and curtains. 

Floral design in Tatar embroidery reflects the deep connection with nature. Another reason floral motif has been popular among Tatars is a religious Islamic tradition not to use human or animal designs in decoration.


Tatar embroidery is polychrome – multi-colored, often combined with metal thread. Bright colors make the embroidery festive. 

Magnificent works created by Tatar embroiderers have influenced the industry and culture of other Muslim (Turkic) peoples of Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, as well as other ethnic groups of the Volga region and the Urals.

Most popular flowers used in Tatar embroidery are tulip, peony, aster, poppy and carnation.


1.Tambour embroidery (Elmäle) comes from the word tambourine (drum). This embroidery technique is implemented by stretching a piece of fabric tightly into a frame like a drum. This embroidery, dating back more than 2000 years, is popular among Tatar embroiders today. Until the middle of the 19th century it was performed with a needle, and later, along with the needle, a hook and hoop were used.


2.Satin stitch (Şoma çigü) is a series of flat stitches that are used to completely cover a section of the background fabric. This embroidery technique was less popular among the Kazan Tatars, its wider distribution began in the middle of the 20th century. The smooth surface, in fact, can be divided into 2 types: filling (flower / leaf) with one color, or smoothly transitioning filling using a thread of the same color with 3-5 shades (from darker to lighter tones).


3.Gold embroidery or Goldwork (Uqalap çigü) is the art of embroidery using metal threads – gold, silver, copper or imitation. This embroidery technique appeared in ancient times and was popular in the East and among the Turkic peoples. It is carried out with gold, silver threads or spun gold (fr. Cannetille). This type of embroidery is considered one of the most complex, expensive and beautiful. Kazan craftsmen skillfully embroidered traditional Tatar women headwear (kalfak) and men headwear (tubetey), leather boots (chitek) as well as famous Kazan towels.


At the end of 19 – beginning of 20 centuries Tatar women became famous of the embroidery art in which they successfully used all the types and techniques.


We, in the International Association of Tatar Women in Europe “HANIM”, sincerely believe that it’s our duty and obligation to keep this art inherited from our grandmothers alive. 


Therefore, it’s our pleasure to organize a series of masterclasses on traditional Tatar embroidery led by Nurislam Siraji, a well-known embroider from Kazan, Tatarstan. (

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