Artistic Crafts of Uzbekistan: jewellery decorations and art fabrics

Jewellery decorations

jewellery decorationsShell of kauri or feather of bird, tooth of killed beast or stone with hole; these were the decorations of human being who was wearing them with the aim to protect himself from adversity, from diseases. Bunches of camel and sheep wool, head and feather of owl were considered as defensive and protective forces. Sedentary nations of Central Asia worshiped pheasant, peacock and cock.

Magic exorcised character of decorations, which first of all protected, and therefore were integral element of human being suit, had led to the fact, that they were extremely distributed in the region.

Decorations can be represented in three groups:

  • Jewelry executing protective function
  • Decorations of good wish
  • Jewelry executing the function of success

The first kind of decorations is put on immediately after birth. These are bracelets of black and white beads “kuzmunchok”, where the word “kuz” eye, drive away “bad eye” from the baby. By this they drive away “bad eye” to other subject more bright and attractive. Thus, they hang on closes small amulets in the form of triangles. That triangular form is indued with sacral attribute, the initial sense of which is in the imagination about sun ray, female prolificacy, and also to the notion about vertical structure of the world.

Distributed motive of rhombus, with which multiple pendants to decorations are hanged, is endued with the symbol of fertility and life good. Many images entering the d?cor of jewelry are related to the notions about the world, universe, about good and evil, images of birds and animals. The head of Karakalpak bride was decorated with traditional cap called “saukele”. On the temples among big corals there were pair images of sheep heads, and that was symbolizing prolificacy, welfare and served as protector from adverse forces. Ear and nose holes were considered as rather attractive for evil spirits, and therefore they should have been protected. Thus the ears of the bride were decorated with ear-rings, especially were valuable once producing clang deterring evil spirits. There was also ring in the nose.

Jewelry “mokhi tela”, put on the body had been decorated with bird heads, and “tilo koz” decorating forehead reminded bird wing (though, in the translation it means “golden eyebrows”). Decoration “gazhak” on the temple was depicting bird. It was considered, that decoration in the form of bird would bring to woman welfare and happiness in family life.

Very frequent one can meet images of birds in the works of Kokand jewelers.

The images of fishes were referred to the number of light symbols connected with pure environments, and in particular with water. Image of fish, its fish-scale, tail had been distributed in the ornaments of Central Asian jewelry. Pendants in the form of fish to necklaces, forehead and temple decorations were carved from silver and golden foil. Ornament “fish tail” covered bracelets. In the Orient fish is considered as symbol of purity, besides the image of fish is accepted as symbol of multiple posterior, and also alertness and vigilance.

The fish on the back of which sunflower or sun are depicted can be met in the unique private collection. From two sides of the fish two lions are depicted, and it was destined for decoration of breast as big medallion with the length of 21 cm.

It, apparently, was tumor, the amulet protecting one or another part of a body. They are rather various and are called “buyin – tumor” or “neck amulet”, “kukraktumor” or breast amulet, “kultiktumor” or underarm amulet. Prayers, hair of children, herbs were stored in them. These amulets should protect woman breast from losses of milk, and in order she should not get sick. And underarm tumor protects the part of a body from which, according ancient legends, the human being soul flies away after death.

The initial appliance for shooting from bow is linked to rings and bracelets, in order that bowstring while extension should not strip away skin, it was protected by leather and then bronze rings. Then these rings from silver became so obligatory for woman, that without them she had no right to cook. Her hands were considered as “khorom” or “dirty”.

Seal rings of the men became the symbol of power, by them they put seals “tamtu”. Seal rings with inserts from turquoise, garnet, cornelian, nephrite, beryl, jasper, blue spar had special sense due to the value of stones. Turquoise according legends brought success in military affairs, therefore they used to decorate with it all military ammunition. Coral protects from damage, pearl cures wall-eye, amber treats Derbyshire neck, cornelian protects from “bad eye”.

Decorations, as legends and fairy-tails brings to us the notion about our anticipants, about their perception and feeling of the world. The special world of images is included in them, the semantics of which is in the understanding of good, wish of the best. While decorating they protect from evil, dirty and bad.

Art fabrics

Art fabricsWool, cotton and wool are raw materials for weaving; main craft in central Asian region. It exists since long. The towns: Margilan, Kokand, Samarkand, Shakhrisyabz, Bukhara, Urgut, Zandane, Vardane, Kitab for ages were famous by their weavers.

There are many fabrics, the production of which became authentic art, so beautiful their patterns, so harmonic the combinations of their colors, so symbolic their patterns.

That is “alacha”, dappled, beamy, with longitudinal patterns in strip and with dark-blue threads of fond. Wide striped half-silk fabric without abrov pattern is called “bekasab”. Male gowns are sewn from it. But the most outstanding phenomena in the art culture of Uzbekistan is the unique fabric “khan atlas”. Such fabric exists and produces only in Uzbekistan and Tadjikistan. It is called “abrov”, and in Europe they call it “ikat”. The technique of thread binding reservation imparts that fabric surprising patterns.

They like lush paints in the Orient, therefore fabrics here are dyed into intensive-bright colors. In Fergana valley they prefer seven combining colors: golden-yellow, red, green, black, pink, violet, white.

The very various patterns decorates fabrics “khan atlas”. During the years of independence the manual production of fabrics started developing, they started reproducing of ancient patterns filled with ancient semantics.

Small drawing of background pattern has important role with general formation of abrov ornament. They depict amulets, called “tumorcha”, snake trace “ilon izi”, horn “shokh”, crest “tarok”, drum “nogora”. As we have already mentioned, they depict jar “kumag” as symbol of water. Illuminator “chirog” is the symbol of cleaning fire, and apparently, the semantics of that image goes by its roots to Zoroastrism. Plant ornaments is reflected by stylized images of plants or their fruits: they depict tree, flowers in vase, almonds, pea, pomegranate. Figures of people and animals in the images on fabrics are rather strongly stylized and sometimes practically not seen. Anthropomorphic motives represent the figures, which by hands and legs are bound into festoons.

“Kuchkor shokh” horns of ram, tiger tail, camel trace, image of scorpion or violet crow “sapsar karga”; in that way the master calls his patterns. Butterfly “kapalak” depicted in the center of rhombus grid is read very distinctly. All those patterns were bearing in themselves distinct magic sacral sense, protecting their owners from bad eye and evil spirits. They were symbolizing fertility and were expressing good wishes for happy life and the very best.

The special kind of textile were velvet fabrics, and among them inimitable illuminating velvet fabric “bakhmal”. In the art sense, it is the most attractive and valuable textile produce. Peacocks, hills, cypresses, rosettes were also depicted on it. The ornament of abrov velvet is similar by its style with the pattern of weaved piled rugs, as the process of manufacture of the both is rather alike.

In the spring of 1998 the masters of Fergana valley had renewed the process for abrov velvet manufacture, which had been lost in the middle of the century.

In the end of ХХ century again on manual equipment they started weaving “khan atlas” and abrov “bakhmal”, again they started reproducing patterns of surprising fabric, about birth of which there is beautiful legend.

Once upon a time the ruler ordered his weaver to weave the fabric, which nobody had seen. The weaver had been thinking for a long time, while in his thoughts he sat at night at the bank of Haus-Iruda. Hev looked at the water and saw clouds there. After coming home the weaver while memorizing what he had seen, had woven unusual fabric “light as cloud”, “cool as ice”. The ruler liked new fabric very much, and he ordered, that only wealthy people should wear clothes from it and he called it “khan atlas”, according its cost it was very expensive, as to weave it was rather difficult. And the name “abrov” from Persian “abr” means cloud, and reminds us about poetic legend of “khan atlas” appearance.

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