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Exhibition of medieval ceramics

In Ikuo Hiroyama International caravanserai of culture of the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan an exhibition of medieval ceramics was held under the poetic name "The Mystery of Eternal Ornaments". 

The peculiarity of this exhibition is that there were collected ceramics found during archaeological excavations in ancient settlements of Uzbekistan such as Kampyrtepa, Kanka, Karshaultepa, Munchaktepa, Khayrabadtepa, Shurobkurgan, which were conducted by the archaeological detachment of the Caravanserai. The archaeological detachment was established in 2003on the basis of the Caravanserai. It is led by an experienced archaeologist Konstantin Aleksandrovich Sheiko from the moment of foundation to this day. Many interesting archaeological discoveries were made during this time and amazing artifacts found, which made up a rich museum collection of the Caravanserai. And many of the ceramic products presented at the exhibition were restored and brought to the proper view by the caravanserai artist-restorer Nargiza Kalandarova.

The name of the exhibition "The Mystery of Eternal Ornaments" itself captivates and carries us to distant, distant times, because ceramic dishes, presented at the exhibition, are dated, mainly, of 9th-11th centuries. This was a time when, after a long struggle with the Arab conquerors, which had serious consequences for the peoples of Central Asia, life gradually developed. The rulers of the Samanid dynasty came to power. The blessed Bukhara became their capital. Strengthening of the central government power contributed to the rise of the country's economy. The trade turnover between the growing cities and the rural population, between the agricultural regions and the nomadic steppe, and the growth of caravan trade contributed to the development of agriculture, mining and crafts. Transoxiana of this period in the economic sense belonged to the advanced regions for its time not only of Middle, but also of Western Asia.

Since the 9th century ceramics has become one of the most common types of art craft. In the cities, entire quarters of ceramist craftsmen appeared, which not only produced ordinary products, but also its unique samples. The pictorial culture that existed in the pre-Islamic period gave way to ornamental art, which reached its peak. Geometric ornament "girih" is a grid, shading, stripes, stars, circles very often combined or framed by stylized vegetative shoots "islimi", which includes plant curls, rosettes, leaves, fruits of pomegranate. And, interestingly, these motifs continue to bear the symbolism of pre-Islamic time, so the fruits of the pomegranate - symbol of fertility, rosettes, and buds personified the revival of nature. In addition to these ornaments, there are stylized images of animals and more often birds.

The new was the distribution of epigraphic ornament. The inscriptions with the handwriting of a strict or blossoming Kufi or a Naskha consisted of inscriptions of goodwill, inscriptions or quotations from the Koran: "The root of the doctrine is bitter taste, but the result is sweeter than honey," "Generosity is the property of the righteous," "Preparing for work will deliver from repentance", "Patience is the key of joy, health and happiness."

Scientists Djangar Ilyasov, PhD in art history, a member of the Institute of Art Studies and his wife, archaeologist Saida Ravilievna have been studying the Islamic glazed pottery of the 9th - 12th centuries and deciphering Arabic inscriptions on her. The best examples of ceramics with epigraphic ornaments of that time amaze with the beauty of the letter and the smoothness of applying the lettering, which speaks of the high skill of the calligraphers who were engaged in utilitarian epigraphy.

From the end of the 8th to the beginning of the 9th centuries, irrigation ceramics widely spread in the cities of Transoxiana, Afrasiab became the center of production. It is here that the ceramic epigraphy reaches its perfection on the vessels of the 10th - 12th centuries, which were decorated with ornamental patterns drawn in brown-red, black, green colors on a white background using an engraved contour.

At the end of the 20th century, our well-known master-ceramist Mukhitdin Rakhimov studied and revived the medieval ceramics of Afrasiab, and his son, academician Akbar Rakhimov and grandson Alisher continued and expanded his work.

Glazed dishes of medieval Tashkent of then Binket was not inferior to the artistic quality of the famous Afrasiab pottery. It was in great demand far beyond the city limits. The Arab traveler of the 10th century, Al-Makdisi wrote about it: "It had no equal in the whole East". This dish was of high quality and was exported to many countries of the East. Plates, flat dishes, jugs, bowls were decorated with epigraphic ornament, vegetative, geometric stylized, in addition, stylized images of animals, birds, fish, fabulous fantastic creatures that were painted with brown, green colors on a white, light yellow or light green background .

Along with the irrigation ceramics there is a wide distribution of painted non-pourable ceramics, most often represented by jugs, which were decorated with engraving technique called chizma. (Angob is a coating of a thin clay layer, applied to the ceramic product before baking and decorated with carvings).

Such medieval ceramics that were found during the excavations of ancient sites of our country could be seen at this interesting and informative exhibition "The Mystery of Eternal Ornaments". And not only to see, but also to touch and realize how many centuries of this extraordinary dish! And how wonderful, that thanks to the hard work of our archaeologists, looking at this ancient pottery, we can look far into our rich history and have an idea of what utensils people of that distant era used, which complements our knowledge about culture, about the activities of people of this time. At the exhibition, several types of plates with various ornaments were presented inside: a braid, a vortex rosette, a mesh weave, and on the edges of the plates there was an inscription on Kufi, a white lyagan with an inscription on Kufi, a bowl with a bouquet in the center, a bowl with a cross.

Non-irigation ceramics was represented by a large cauldron 

 and a small hum with a beautiful dark red geometric ornament

and jugs decorated with chizma. 

A brown glazed jug with white geometric ornaments is very interesting,

Очень интересен коричневый глазурованный кувшин с белым геометрическим орнаментом.

 

and one could also see ancient lamps and ceramic covers, a blue glazed plate with a black geometric ornament, as well as magnificent painted fragments of ceramic dishes. 

 

 Looking at all this medieval ceramics one could feel the spirit of that distant time and the desire to learn more about the history of our country, about the ancient and modern ceramic art.   

There are still various ceramics schools that have their own characteristics and traditions in Uzbekistan. Basically, they formed in the 19th century. Fergana with centers in Rishtan and Gurumsaray. Bukhara-Samarkand with its centers in Samarkand, Tashkent, Urgut, Gijduvan, Shakhrisabz, Kattakurgan, Denau and Ube. Khorezm, which united the masters of Urgench, Khiva, the villages of Madir and Kattabag.

Today, the traditions of pottery, carried through the centuries, are preserved and are further developed in each of the listed centers. The masters are famous far beyond our country works here. They are Akbar and Alisher Rakhimov from Tashkent, Sharofiddin Yusupov, Alisher Nazirov from Rishtan, Mirzabakhrom Abduvahabov from Andijan, Alisher and Abdullo Narzullayev from Gijduvan, Dilorom Mukhtarova, master of the famous ancient Samarkand clay toy.

Tamara Kazachenko