Silk Road Ceramics of Uzbekistan
Some of the first creations of prehistoric humans were containers meant to carry and store food and belongings. All over the world, people learned to make vessels, dishes, pots and vases out of clay. What began as a necessity evolved into a decorative art form through the centuries, with each locality boasting its own characteristic shapes, colors and motifs.
Just as food varies from region to region, so do ceramics. Why? For starters, the clay itself is different from region to region, and so are the local ingredients used for dyes to paint the plates and jars. Even more, every artist’s eye sees things a little differently.
On a tour with MIR, you can visit the Gijduvan workshop of the Narzulaev brothers, whose work includes more than sixty different shapes, using over a hundred design motifs and a variety of natural colors. You can observe the process of preparing the clay by hand (or foot, as sometimes the air is pressed out from the clay mass by walking on it), turning it on the potter’s wheel, firing it in the wood-fired kilns and painting and glazing the resulting dishes.
Next, they paint free-form local designs onto this earthenware, from fruit and flowers to branches and butterflies. Finally, Rishtan’s prized glaze called ishkor (made from ashes of herbs) is applied and baked, resulting in a profusion of blue hues: cobalt, turquoise, ultramarine, robin’s egg and indigo.
Travel to Uzbekistan with MIR
MIR has nearly 30 years of travel experience in Central Asia and has an affiliate office in Uzbekistan. We have a roster of contacts that can take you to places that you didn’t even know you wanted to go. Our full service, dedication, commitment to quality, and destination expertise have twice earned us a place on National Geographic Adventure’s list of “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth.”
Get a first-hand look at how these traditional Uzbek ceramics are made on MIR’s small group tours that include a visit to a master’s ceramic workshop:
- Journey Through Central Asia: The Five ‘Stans
- Silk Route Odyssey: Caravan Across Uzbekistan
- Chinese Turkestan & Central Asia
You can also book a custom private journey.
Top Photo: A variety of hand-painted plates in Gijduvan. Photo: David Parker
PUBLISHED: March 28, 2016