Artistic Crafts of Uzbekistan: ceramics, toys and small plastique

All types of crafts known to mankind were existing and developing on the territory of Uzbekistan since ancient times. Even in the deep ancientry the people living on Central Asian land could burn clay, draw on the bones, create hardware, weave carpets and fabrics, embroider decorating their homes and clothes.

Ancient traditions of carpet weaving, embroidery, dying of fabrics, jewelry art and chase, plaiting from willow rods, carving and painting on the wood were developing and improving for centuries. In the result the unique art schools had appeared, where each of the craft centers was developing its originality. Rishtan ceramics, Urgut embroidery, Bukhara golden sewing, Margilan satin, Karakalpak and Khorezm jewelry, Chust scull-caps, Pap encrusted knives, Tashkent fettling are widely known.

All multiple types of artistic crafts having ancient traditions, presently are being developed by modern national masters. The methods and techniques for thread and fabrics dying with natural stainers are being revived, creating then artistic fabrics and embroideries.

Uzbek experts are dealing thoroughly with the elaboration of new technologies and new samples on the basis of local materials, with the use of ancient oriental symbols, semantics of color and image.

The national traditions are being preserved carefully and developed creatively by many generation of talented experts of Uzbekistan. The interest to the crafts is defined by the fact, that also as in epos, music, dancing and poetry, the most intimate features of mentality of the Orient, aesthetic tastes of Uzbek nation are reflected in them.

Artistic Crafts of Uzbekistan:
Toys and small plastique
Decorative Pumpkins
Jewellery Decorations
Art Fabrics
Art Metal


The most ancient kind of Uzbek art is the ceramics.

Ceramic jars, referred to deep ancientry, are covered with big rhombi, triangles, escribed into square crosses. These symbols had the meaning for protecting of jar from adversity. On the fragments of ancient ceramics there are images of goats, eagles, and those images show that the are called to serve the Good, contesting the Evil.

In the period of antiquity the beauty of the form of jar had been especially valuable in Central Asian ceramics. In Kushan ceramics the decoration of handles of jars with figurines of animals; goat, sheep, hedgehog, monkey, had got distribution, and those had been made by manual embossment. Images of animals are protectors, which guard the content of a jar from evil forces.

Immense importance for the development of ceramics in the region had the invention of special paints decorating earthenware. Besides aesthetic value of glassy stainers, their use allowed to extend possibilities for application of various patterns. First, the alcalic glaze had been discovered. The ornaments were the simplest once of geometric character; large grids or strips. Then ceramic artists had mastered bright-green, yellow and brown-black paints. Since IX-X centuries so called “spotty” “marble looking” ceramics had got the distribution. Great importance had possessed epigraphy; inscriptions with ornament, velleities.

Ornament with plants had appeared on the basis of observations of human being for surrounding nature. In the patterns, which masters depict till present time, there is the reflection of beautiful world of flora. Thus, the depiction of a leaf means awakening of nature in spring. Motive of a fruit of almond (“bodom”) is the symbol of happiness, fertility, wealth. The depiction of hot pepper “kalampur” is the amulet against diseases. In its basis there are antiseptic characteristics, rather actual in the countries with hot climate.

Pomegranate with its multiple cherry-red granules is the symbol of bellyful, abundance, beneficence.

In IXX century big artistic schools of ceramics had been formed in Uzbekistan, where Rishtan, Gurumsaray, Gijduvan, Khiva, Shakhrisyabz, Samarkand, Tashkend possessed broad publicity.

Rishtan blue ceramics is well-known. Depiction of knives on the dishes of Rishtan ceramics people link to Chust, the center of famous knives. But, it is rather likely, that the knife is protector from evil.

Artworks of Gurumsaray ceramics are easily recognized according the depiction of jars. This is symbol of water, the basis of life in the Orient.

Today Uzbek ceramics is experiencing new stage, when new artistic centers appear in towns and villages. The Uzbek ceramic artists encarnate in their earthenware the forgotten patterns, putting in them ancient good-minded symbolism.

Toys and small plastique

The earthenware of small plastique made from clay had been found while archeological digging of the ancient monuments. They depict animals; goats, sheep, horses, dogs, birds. Being allegorized as fantastic images, they combine the features of several creatures; body of an animal, wings of a bird, fish-scale. Those creatures were endued with characteristics of talisman, protector.

In spite of counteractions of official Islamism, these images had been preserved in the artistic memory of the people. Toy-pennywhistles, so called “khushtak”, in the 60-ths of XX century had been created by folk masters. Toys of Bukhara mistress Rakhimova from Uba Khamro-buvi vikllage are known far beyond Uzbekistan. These toys had sacral function for protection of future yield. They were given to children, as innocent creatures, in the days of celebrating Navruz. They were running with “khushtaks” along spring fields and orchards, and by whistling threatening evil spirits in order to avoid draught, locust and other adversities destroying yield.

Ceramic toys were also created in other villages of Uzbekistan.

With the time the initial functions of toy whistles had been lost, they became souvenirs. The dynasty of Samarkand ceramic artist Ablakul Mukhtarov in XX century created small plastique, in which they used traditions of ancient art. Ethnographic, full of humor scenes attract tourists visiting Samarkand very much. The most popular image of Mukhtarovs was small dragon “ajdakho”. It possessed the attribute of protector.

Talented masters presently are rather successfully dealing with the creation of small ceramic plastique. Creation of various ceramic figurines with the use of ethnographic motives became leading trend of artistic ceramics of Uzbekistan. Images of old men “aksakals”, riders on donkeys,animals, grooms and brides, bakers baking bread possess deserved demand from tourists, as the originality of Uzbek land is reflected in them.

China small plastique.

Since the middle of the 80-ths in Uzbekistan the new kind of art appeared in Uzbekistan, staying ajoint of applied and fine arts; artistic Chinaware.

Shakhnoza Muminova is the only artist in Uzbekistan creating small plastique from that material. The theme of her creations is rather various. She creates portraits, poetic images of dancing-girls and poetesses of the Orient, decorative composition consisting of baskets with flowers, functional patterns; powder-boxes and looking-glasses, female bijouterie; pendants, earrings.

Fragility of the material, thinness of jewelry execution of details in the form of thin fingers of images, accuracy of surface processing of Chinaware impart to the creations of Shakhnoza Muminova unusual expression.

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