A blog detailing the culture, history, geography and nature of the Republic of Karakalpakstan and neighbouring areas on the lower reaches of the Amu Darya River.
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Ceramics of Uzbekistan
Hand made Ceramics are one of the most important arts practiced in Central Asia. The main centres of artistic ceramics in Uzbekistan are found in Rishtan, Gizhduvan, Khiva, Samarkand, Gurumsaray, Shahrisabz, Urgut, Khoresm and the capital Tashkent.
Each region has its own characteristic features and traditions that have been established over the centuries. The best way to see if ceramics are handmade are to turn over the bowl or plate and look at the bottom and you will see traces of a circle in the right light.
Uzbek potters specialise in many different forms; spherical bowls (piala and kosa), dishes (lagans), urns; vases and jugs (korchagi-khumiy) all in a variety of sizes from huge to tiny, all easy to use yet at the same time delicate in form.
Colour styles: In the Ferghana Valley – both in Rishtan and Gurumsaroy and in the western province of Khorezm potters use blue-white-green styles and in Samarkand, Tashkent, Bukhara they use green-brown-yellow styles.
Rishtan is the oldest centre of ceramic art in Central Asia is located in the Ferghana Valley between the cities of Kokland and Ferghana. Today there are around 2,000 potters in the Rishtan region, many of whose families have been working in ceramics for generations.
Their famous technique of glazed earthenware varies by shape, ornamentation and colour. The most characteristic colouring is a turquoise ultramarine and brown palette on a milky-white background that differs entirely from colours used in other parts of Central Asia. It famous Ishkor glaze, made from ashes, gives the earthenware its beautiful, soft shine.
There ceramics also differ technically as well, with thin, delicate walls and a translucent, smooth glaze. Clay is in much abundance in the area and it has few impurities, the glazes and paints they use are shades of blue and turquoise fixed using the renowned Ishkor glaze, made from ashes, gives the earthenware its beautiful, soft shine.
When tapping the edge of fine Rishtan pottery you can always hear a nice ringing sound. One of the main features in the decoration is that the patterns used to adorn their ceramics are intricate and utilise a large number of elements and the line work in their pieces are unusually thin and clearly delineated.
The town of Gijduvan is located about forty miles from Bukhara is another famous ancient pottery centre, where the masters of their craft have passed down the knowledge from one generation to another for centuries. Gijduvan masters use special paints from natural materials such as the ash from a dry camel thorn. The main feature in the decoration of the ceramics from Gijduvan is that the colours and patterns in the pieces when applied and interacting with the glaze become slightly blurred.
This ambiguity creates a wonderful vague look. The ceramics are light porous and have thick walls in all shades of yellow and brown, slightly diluted with green and blue. Due to this special refinement they usually become colour tableware and one does not find many of the pieces on the shelves. Their potters use a dark glaze on top of the fine dark pattern and the basic colour absorbs all the others and creates a marble effect.
Khorezm ceramics have a striking beauty and elegance. Ornate patterns using broad horizontal pattered rims are painted in traditional Central Asian medieval blue tones. Like Rishtan, when you tap the dish, there is a dense ringing sound. Khoresm plates are usually flat on the bottom and have a raised rim at a slight angle. The development of pottery making in Khoresm has been assisted by the presence of abundant reddish clay of good quality, as well as plentiful local natural dyes.
Ceramic production has been established for more than a thousands years in Samarkand. Today modern ceramics are characterized by complex under glaze, painted with motifs of flora and still life designs usually painted with free brush style. Most commonly they are on a dark green or dark brown background where subtle patterns in white or gold are applied. Also notable is that Samarkand potters usually adorn their products with large decorative six or eight point stars.
In Shakhrisabz masters paint their ceramics with yellow and reddish colours on a background of dark red usually covering the colours with a blue glaze.
In Tashkent potters make two types of pottery, first being old style which has an ornament wave form of green, yellow and brown. The second a modern style which has engraved markings on the edges with a fine floral ornaments and polychrome colours on a light background.