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06 August 2018
Jamshid Kasimov

History chasing

One of the most popular motifs of the Uzbek ornament is islimi (a vegetable ornament) and its numerous variations comprising running stalks and patterns of flowers and leaves. Islimi patterns are used to decorate medallions, rosettes, geometrical figures and various friezes and fringe bands. Despite the canonical approach to technique (mainly in depicting vegetable motifs), each generation of craftsmen introduced its own concept of beauty in vegetable patterns and natural forms, thus enriching not only the artistic arsenal of embossing but also the general aesthetical outlook of the people. The geometric ornament performs a service function in embossing and most of the geometrical patterns have been borrowed from the motifs of architectural decore. This is due to the fact that in the past (here existed special ornamentalists, called nakkosha, who developed patterns for both architects and embossers.
Zoomorphic images were used in a stylized form. These were no longer images of animals, but only parts of them: chashmi bulbul (eyes of the nightingale), kuchkorak (ram\'s horns), pushti balik (fish scales), etc. The images of animals and birds or parts of them are more or less discernable in various handles, spouts cast by the foundrymen.
The development of the general style of Central Asian embossing went hand in hand with the development of local art schools, a process which was completed in the nineteenth century. The regional peculiarities in the embossed copper articles of Uzbekistan are manifest mainly in the ornamentation and some details of the more or less uniform items. The embossing technique has always been standard and the only difference lies in the depth of embossing, in specific methods of finishing the background and the surface of the ornament.
Bukhara embossing was particularly famous in the past. The metal items made by Bukhara artisans display reserved grace of form, classical proportions and stable ornamental motifs performed in deep embossing technique. The Bukhara school of embossing art displays a clear cut system which testifies to ancient and rich traditions. The Bukhara school of embossing was affected by change to a lesser degree than other regional schools and retained much of the ancient forms and traditional patterns. With all its great diversity of items Bukhara embossing displays simplicity and reservation in form. It was only in the beginning of this century that Bukhara craftsmen turned to new forms made of silver in copying industrially manufactured goods — fruit
vases, sugar-basins, teapots, etc. But even in these articles, the wealth of traditions and the natural gift of improvization mitigated their eclectic style.
In Bukhara embossing, the relatively free background is usually accentuated by hatching. Punched background technique is a rarety. From the eighteenth century, the artisans of Bukhara resorted to the Karshi method of colouring the background which they did with great taste and with greater reservation than the Kokand artisans. The ornament produced by Bukhara artisans is much larger than that of the Kokand craftsmen and more elegant than on Tashkent-made items. Particular expressiveness to the Bukhara ornament is imparted by kundal. the name given to smooth and wide contour strips. The vegetable ornament displays plasticity and clarity. Until lately, the Bukhara embossers readily availed themselves to calligraphic inscriptions which they used to decorate parts of the items — the body, the neck or handle of jugs, the broad base of trays, etc. Sometimes the epigraphic ornament comprised vegetable motifs.
The artisans of Bukhara introduced new ornamental subjects into their ornamental compositions — architectural monuments, images of people and animals, everyday life scenes.
Bukhara has always been a major regional centre of embossing art and attracted craftsmen from other parts of Central Asia. We know the names of such masters of Bukhara embossing as usto Shadi Muhammad and usto Baratbai who lived in the eighteenth century. Salahitdin. Mirza. Sharaf. Khakim Bukhari. Rustmuhamad Riza of the nineteenth century. According to available sources. Bukhara of the turn of this century had up to 400 jewellers and up to 600 copper smiths. Of these only 50 masters performed highly artistic work and among them were such well-known craftsmen as Alim Abdu- salyamov, Gulyam Hasanov, Ablayar Yuldashev and Norsalikhov.

Mukardali Mukarramov, Mukhtar Muksinov and Abdusalam Khamidov contributed greatly to the development of artistic embossing in Bukhara. The Khamidovs family of hereditary embossers was particularly prolific in the art. Abdusalam Khamidov the son of the well-known artisan usto Khamid, was one of the first Uzbek craftsmen to introduce into his embossed compositions such elements as the five-pointed star, architectural monuments of Bukhara, real animals, birds and images of people. Usto Abdusalam\\\'s son — Salimdjan Khamidov trained young craftsmen in the ancient art at special courses opened in 1968 in Bukhara.

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