ART & ARCHITECTURE
One of the most famous aspects of Uzbekistan's culture is the mastery of so many decorative arts. Older examples of the centuries-old techniques may be viewed in museums, and in the bazaars you will find many examples of the recent revival of handicraft traditions that has brought about new interest and many new artisans.
From the famed blue and white ceramic pottery and detailed gold-thread embroidery, to the intricately carved gourd snuffboxes, engraved copper lamps, and hand-forged daggers, Uzbek arts continue to enthrall a world audience.
Wall painting and sculptural carving as well as ornamental carving and painting have been practiced since ancient and early medieval periods. The 9th and 10th centuries saw a period of particularly intensive development of ornamental, floral-vegetal polychromatic paintings and relief carving. The more elaborate use of ornamental forms and compositions formed the basis for principles approved by experts through the ages and are observed and adhered to even nowadays. Nakkoshi – Masters of ornamental painting usually practiced ghanch and wood architectural painting simultaneously. The most noted masters of wall painting were the Bukhara nakkoshi of the last century.
Lacquered miniature art thrived in Samarkand at the beginning of 15th century, as testified by genuine ornamental papier-mâché medallions found miraculously preserved set into the interior of Gur-Emir and in the Bibi-Khanym mosque. Pencil boxes, book-covers, chess, caskets, vases and other small items decorated with miniature vegetable patterns are offered in craft centers of Samarkand, Bukhara and Tashkent.
Ceramics of Uzbekistan keeps unique expressiveness throughout the ages. The first samples found in the country by archeologists date back to ancient times. There are dishes, lyagans, spherical cups, kyosas, vases, jugs, pots, large and small hums, convenient for use and, the same time, refined in form. For many centuries and even now there has been a demand for pottery from across the broad mass of population. The works are distinguished by skilled workmanship, beauty of form, enchanting ornamental forms, richly imaginative designs and a deep sense of the harmony of color.
Knives are highly sharpened and kept in leather sheaths decorated with metallic plates, embroidery, appliqué, or painting. Of the ancient centers of artistic knife-making there remain prominent schools in Chust in the Ferghana valley, Khiva in Khorezm and Bukhara.
Jeweler’s art has long-standing traditions. Century in century out jewelers (zargar) have created unique jewelry. In the second half of XX century jeweler’s craft turned into the system of industrial production, which brought into a certain standardization and unification of jewelry, stylizing, gradual simplification and distortion of traditional forms of decoration, taking some types of technology over.
Fabrics design in Uzbekistan is an outstanding example of folk art. The past and present are wonderfully combined – the traditions of ancient folk art woven together with the knowledge and understanding of modern times. The art of decorative fabric acts as a kind of history book, reflecting its centuries-old development, and embodying the creative work of many thousands of talented masters and artists.
Silk weaving. Revival of silk weaving in Uzbekistan is connected with the activity of enterprises and joint-stock companies. Today, manufacture of such national fabrics as shokhi bekhasam, adras, bakhmal, atlas, khan-atlas is recovered. Also, ancient traditional traceries are being recovered; special attention is paid for the renewal of natural dyes.
Marghilan weavers use glossing with eggwhite and subsequent beating off the cloth with mallet to add luster to atlas and moiré effect to adras and bekhasam.
Suzane – tapestries resemble thin, skillfully embroidered carpets. Their patterns contain ancient symbols of sun and stars, flowers and plants, epigraphic wishes for happiness and good health.
Scull cups’ great artistic merits, ornaments and evidence of the long developmental path traveled by this particular kind of national folk art. In its outward decorative forms the Uzbek skull cup continuously developed and changed its look, as did dress as a whole. Every district has its own style and ornamental motives.
Carpets are the biggest part of the Eastern folk art. Silk and wooden, national and modern decorated, different by ornament from region to region comply with the most exquisite test and create unique atmosphere of cordiality and coziness.
The carpets are woven on vertical and horizontal machines. Sizes are within the limits of 3 m to 1.5 m. Thickness of wickerwork is from 600, 800 thousand to 1.200 thousand knots for 1 sq. m., length of the piles does not exceed 2 mm. Flossy thread goes both into the base and weft of the carpet. Complete carpet is curiously thin and simultaneously durable.
Monuments of material culture (petroglyphs, monumental sculpture, bas relief, statuettes and others) as well as written sources (II cent. B. C.), which have been preserved to us are evidence of ancient background of musical heritage of Uzbek people. The best samples of musical art have been generally interpreted in treatises about music of Central Asian scholar encyclopaedists (Farabi, Ibn-Sina, Khorezmi, Jami and others).
In Uzbek folk oral-professional music there are 4 basic local styles – Khorezmian, Ferghana-Tashkent, Bukhara-Samarkand, Surkhandarya-Kashkadarya existing in the result of ethnic community.
Musical instruments are rich with its variety: stringed musical instruments – ghidjak, kobooz, sat (setar); stringed musical instruments played by plucking – dombra (drum), dutar, tanbur, ud, rubab; stringed percussion instrument – chang; wind instruments – sibizig, bulaman, surnai, kashnai; wind fluty instruments – nai, ghadjir nai, wind mouthpiece instruments – karnai, membrane percussion instruments – doira, naghora, chindaul and others.
Art of dancing of Uzbek nation has been developed since ancient times. Imprints of dancing figures have been preserved on rock paintings and archeological finds. In IV-VIII centuries, art of dancers from Samarkand, Bukhara and Khorezm was popular in many Eastern states.
Uzbek national dance has been preserved to our time in two forms: traditional classical and folk dance. In the classical dance there are popular schools like Ferghana (“Katta uyin” – Big dance), Bukhara (“Makom dance”), Khorezm (“Ufori makoma”). Folk dances are very diversified. They are cheerful, lyric, dramatic dances with their regional differences. The widest variety of folk dances has been preserved in mountain areas.
Uzbekistan – land of ancient and high culture that gave to the world splendid pieces of architecture. In descriptions of eastern authors about erection of ancient cities (Bukhara, Samarkand, Khiva and others) it was mentioned about ruler’s palaces, aristocrats’ dwellings, bazaars, mosques, madrassah, and mausoleums, country palaces buried in verdure of gardens. For example, Kirk-kiz in Termez, Surkhandarya province, it is an original country estate of X-XI centuries. Mausoleum of Samanids in Bukhara has been preserved to our time, memorial of monumental architecture, which is the embodiment of the best achievements of architectural creation of early middle ages.
In XI-XII centuries there is a rapid growth of Samarkand. There was an intense construction of dwelling houses, civil and religious buildings.
Development of the cities, increase of the urban population, and expansion of the internal and international trade caused the construction of numerous caravanserais along caravan roads. Near to Navoi city there is a preserved caravanserai - Rabat-i-Malik. It was a large erection of this kind – inn, which could receive and feed several caravans.
Amongst religious buildings there are more mosques: central cathedral municipal (juma-mosque), out of town (namazgokh), intraneighborhood (guzar), madrassah and mausoleums.
Nearly a century long, since XII century Central Asia suffered the conquests of Genghis Khan’s hordes. Only in the first half of the XIV century the revival of destroyed cities and settlements gradually began and it contributed to development of architectural work.
Architecture of Temurids Empire – visible personification of his social being: fortress strongholds – it is an expression of state power, palaces – magnificence of strong, religious buildings of Islam – triumph of Moslem ideology, bazaars – role of the craft and trade, and thick housing construction of the cities – flesh and blood of that life of complicated urban organism.
Bloom of the town-planning culture of Central Asia has lasted for the whole 15 century, especially in the period of government of Amir Temur’s grandson – Ulugbek.
In the Temurids’ epoch park-and-garden art has been developed where the green plantations, water and architecture organically blend together.
In XVI-XVIII centuries the architectural work was concentrated in large cities like Bukhara, Samarkand, Karmana, Tashkent and etc.
In the middle of the XVIII century an original city-preserve, where there were concentrated architectural sights of that period has become Khiva.