One the most beautiful and delicate of Iranian crafts are created by Turkmen women. It is called “Souzan Douzi” or making Souzan. The word Souzan means needle in Persian, and this craft is a kind of embroidery with elaborate patterns of yellow and black stitches that are usually applied on rich red fabrics. This craft is also known as “Keshteh” or “Siah Douzi” and according to historical documents, dates back to Scythians.
The principal yarn of Souzan Douzi is silk, however, wool and acrylic yarns are used in some regions. The name Siah Douzi, which literally means “Sewing in Black”, refers to the color of silk yarn that consists the most important part of this traditional craft. There are several steps in Souzan Douzi, such as preparing the layers of fabrics and sewing the seams, determining the range of the pattern, spinning the yarn, Siah Douzi which is making stitched using black silk yarn, “Alvan Douzi” which is adding colorful stiches to the black ones, Daneh Douzi and Sefid Douzi (sewing in white).The Turkmen women choose red fabrics to make Siah Douzi.
Both colors and patterns of this craft have roots in beliefs, traditions and culture of this region and each has a symbolic meaning. The patterns are mostly geometric and symmetrical and naturally dyed yarns are used to make them. These embroideries can be applied to various traditional clothing such as “Charbeh”, a kind of short dress, “Kourteh”, a long dress, “Chakman” that is a man clothing, a coat called “Chabit” and a kind of headwear called “Buruk”.
In addition, today pieces of fabrics that have Souzan on them can be used to ornate edges, collars, handcuffs, busts, trousers and also bags and cushions. Siah Douzi was most prominent in Qajar dynasty. Some of the products of this craft such as Turkmen trousers has been an inseparable part of a Turkmen girl’s dowry. Some of the stitches that are used in Souzan Douzi are “Kojmeh”,”Par” or feather, “Saghe Douzi”, “Ghayma” and “Ilameh”. The patterns of Siah Douzi are abstract symbols of natural surroundings, such as “Gol Naghsh” or a kind of flower, “Sari Ichian”,”Ghoymogh”,”Bormeh Chigin”,”Ghuchan”, “Tirana Burun”, “Chargmagh” and etc. Today, many Turkmen women are practicing Souzan Douzi in cities such as Gonbad Kavus, Bandar Turkaman, Gomishan, Aq Qala, and Kalaleh.