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When shopping for clothes, I fall prey to accessories, cooing in a shoe department over footwear I can never afford. That tendency sure kicked in at the Textile Museum’s new “Silk and Leather: Splendid Attire of 19th-Century Central Asia” exhibition, which features items worn by the ruling class of Uzbek nomadic herders. The harsh climate of the Eurasian Steppes required versatile and practical dress, exemplified by the caftan, an overcoat of sorts worn by both men and women. I was more dazzled, though, by the details of Uzbek dress: a red wool hat covered with dizzying geometric designs and crowned with creamy feathers; a purse decorated with networks of braided cords and silken tassels; and best of all, a pair of soft-soled leather boots dyed bright red, with flower-shaped appliqués in green,
blue, and gold. Most were wrought by girls under the watchful eyes of their mothers, making these lavish yet functional accessories almost tactilely evocative of the nomadic people who made and wore them. The show is on view from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (to Feb. 2006; see City List for other dates) at the Textile Museum, 2320 S St. NW. $5 (suggested donation). (202) 667-0441. (Hetty Lipscomb)