Leonid KIYASHKO, journalist, Ivanovo, Russia.
On the coat of arms of Turkmenistan, the boxes of “white gold” look natural, but in the symbolism of one of the regions of Central Russia seeing them is quite surprising. If, of course, one does not know that this region is home for an ancient textile center.
Cotton boxes are placed on the coat of arms of the Ivanovo region, which this year marks the centenary of education. In the center of the official symbol – the figures of the golden lion and eagle, called in heraldry by shield holders. And the main composition is based on a pedestal in the form of a wreath of linen and cotton. These are the main types of raw materials processed by Ivanovo textile enterprises.
My grandmother was born in Ivanovo region. She moved as the textile worker first to the Caucasus, and then to Turkmenistan. Helped, like thousands of other skilled workers, in the development of a new industry for the country. True, “white gold” then mostly was processed in the textile centers of Russia, including Ivanovo. And now Turkmenistan sells high quality ready-made cotton products. Turkmen towels, for example, are very popular in the same Ivanovo region. In fact, they have already become one of the brands of the sunny region.
Despite the fact that “live” cotton is not brought here practically, it remains not only a symbol of the region, but also a subject of fashion. In the design of interiors boxes of fibrous plants look fresh and original. In addition, they are often part of the bouquets. They are present even in the New Year decor, which, given the color of the fiber, is quite logical. As is the case of white wedding bouquets.
Cotton is also used in fruit and vegetable design compositions, which are now at the peak of popularity. Here, for example, is the composition “Winter Vitamins”: gentle to the touch cotton, juicy pomegranate, ripe apples of scarlet color and the same bright roses. “This is not an empty set of words, but an ideal combination in a bouquet!” – assure the Ivanovo florists.
Upon closer examination
A lot of interesting information about cotton can be learned by visiting the Museum of Stone, of which Ivanovo is famous. Its collection tells not only about minerals, but also nature in the broadest sense. And you can look at cotton from a completely different angle with the help of the newest electron microscope that appeared in the museum recently.
Under a multiple increase, one can admire not only grains of sand, each of which resembles a planet, but also a cosmic pattern of a cut of a cotton stem. And dense layers of cells look like majolica. A mysterious sight is a cut of a leaf of cotton. It is very thin and dense at the same time.
“This is due in large part to the fact that cotton grows much to the south, as well as in much more arid regions. Water has to be saved, and the smaller the surface of the leaf, the less water evaporates,” the museum worker says, looking through the microscope. Cotton fibers under great magnification seem to look like galaxies.
“In order to understand what our clothes are sewn from, we will need to look at the fruit of cotton,” – they say in the museum. “But first, a little extra information: the point is that cotton, like any other plant, needs to spread its fruits as far as possible. As a result, each seed of cotton is covered with a large number of fine hairs, which, on the one hand, allow the seed to be carried with the wind, and on the other, it is perfectly attached to animals passing by.”
I must say that those who have never seen a box of cotton look it all with surprise. And for those who know all this, it is more interesting to look at “white gold” from a different angle. And the miracle of technology gives this opportunity.
Interlacing stories and events
The opportunity to delve into this topic several years ago was given also by the unique creative project of the artist Lyudmila Avgust. In the world’s only Chintz Museum, which Ivanovo is also famous for, the artist studied several samples from a half-million fabrics fund. She wanted to plunge into the mysterious world of thread interlacing, and this required a hundredfold increase in the image. The researcher considered this experience in the form of history, technology, science and art at the same time. And the project is called “Interlacing”.
“The world is a web of closely intertwined stories and events. These connections may be invisible, but they necessarily exist, but only hidden deep below the surface,” – these words of Dan Brown, the artist chose as an epigraph to her work.
The photographs show that the cotton fiber looks like an oblate tube. One end of the fiber is uneven in the place where it is torn from the seed, and the other end is pointed. Creating a picture of the fabric, the artist acted as a sculptor: in her imagination she sculpted or cut out a drawing on the surface of the material, she needed to foresee the final result.
“The boxes open with a crack, cotton splits out like a white fluffy ball”
Magic is present throughout the whole process of creating fabric. And this is beautifully conveyed almost ninety-year book of artists Olga Deineko and Nikolay Troshin. “How cotton becomes chintz” – this is the name of this rarity. By the way, the texts were written by the artists themselves.
“It’s hot in the fields of Turkestan. All the grass was blazed out by the sun – it became the land of a dead desert. Only where people have the water the fields are green, the gardens are in blossom. Turkmens on camels plow the sandy land. Here cotton is sown,” the authors write under the drawings.
They write with knowledge and great love: “…In a strong heat, cotton bushes bloom and become covered with fruits. Fruits ripen, their boxes are opened with a crash, and cotton splits out of them with a white fluffy ball.”
One reads with bated breath about how caravans of camels on the golden sands, and barges – along the rivers bring bales of cotton to the railway: “Thousands of miles away to the north, the factory takes the cotton of the train. A long way from the field to the factory will be passed by cotton before it becomes chintz.”
More about cotton in heraldry
You can browse the books in the archive of the digitized materials of the Russian State Children’s Library. And in all kinds of encyclopedias, which are many in any book treasury, you can learn a lot of interesting things about heraldry with the motives of cotton. Its boxes, as is known, decorate the arms of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, as well as Kyrgyzstan.
In Russia, such a symbol is present only in the Ivanovo region. But in other countries of the world there are lots of examples. Cotton is found on the arms of Pakistan, Indonesia, Angola, Uganda and even Macedonia, as well as the states of Tennessee (in the USA) and Rio Grande do Norte (in Brazil), in the provinces of Formosa (Argentina), Sucre (Colombia) and Guanacaste Costa Rica). And how many boxes of cotton there are on the emblems of cities in the abovementioned countries, as well as France and Italy!