One type of art in Central Asia is ceramic. In Uzbekistan, the main centers of artistic ceramics are Gijduvan, Karshi, Tashkent, Samarkand, Rishtan and Khorezm and other areas. They are made where ceramics is divided into two color groups: those in the Ferghana Valley (in Rishtan, Gurumsaroy, Khorezm) blue-white-green and types that are green-brown-yellow the Samarkand, Tashkent, Bukhara areas.
Over hundreds of years, Uzbek ceramist developed lagans, which is a type of ceramic dish. Spherical bowls called piala and kosa, vases, jugs, and urns called korchagi-khumiy in variety of sizes – from huge to tiny, easy to use and at the same time delicate in form. In each region the ceramics has their characteristic features and tradition that were established over the centuries.
The most famous center of traditional blue ceramics of Uzbekistan is located in the Fergana Valley. About a thousand years ago a potter’s craft rose up. Ceramics product master kuzfar are covered with a light blue glaze called ishor and have a strong demand throughout the Great Silk Road from China to the Arabian Peninsula.
Rishtan is a city which is located between Kokand and Fergana. Most famous were the ceramics that are handcrafted that comes from Ferghana Valley which were done over many hundreds of years. At some point the entire male population of Rishtan was potters. Clay is in much abundance in the area and there were almost no impurities. Each Rishtan master maintained their secrets of glazes and paints, but the colors largely of all shades of blue and turquoise colors. The patterns are very small with a large number of elements adorning the ceramics. Sometimes the glazing would not be transparent causing all the patterns being dark blue. When tapping the edge of the potteries, you can hear a nice ringing sound. To see if these ceramics were handmade, one would turn the bowl and look at the bottom and one would see traces of a circle, if in the right light.
Gijfuvan is a city about forty miles from Bukhara and is an ancient pottery center, where the masters of their craft passed down the knowledge from one generation to the next. The Gijduvan masters used special paints from natural materials, which they prepare manually. They contain even the ash from a dry camel thorn. And there is another feature in the decoration of the ceramics from Gijduvan and Bukhara. If the pieces of each line of the each line of the pattern Rishtan are unusually thin and clearly delineated, the lines and patterns in the pieces of Gijduvan Bukhara type are vague. Properties of the particular colors in the patterns are such that they are slightly blurred when applied and interacting with the glaze. This ambiguity creates a wonderful look. The ceramics are light porous and are thick walled and are in all shades of yellow and brown and slightly diluted with green and blue. Due to special refinement they become color tableware and one does not find many of the pieces on the shelves. They use a dark color glaze on top of the fine dark pattern and the basic color absorbs all the others and creates a marble effect.
Khorezm painting is not to be confused with anything. It has a striking beauty and elegance of ornate pattern with broad horizontal patterned on the rims and is painted with traditional Central Asian medieval blue tones. Like Rishtan, when you tap the dish, there is a beautiful, dense ringing sound. These plates are flat on the bottom and have a raised rim at a slight angle.
Samarkand’s Ceramics (Samarkand school):
The history of Samarkand ceramic production has more then around for more then a thousands years. The development of pottery making traditions contributed to the presence of reddish clay of good quality and as well as natural dyes-mountain herbs and minerals that are rich in the fertile plains of the Ferghana Valley. For modern Samarkand ceramics is characterized by complex under glaze painted with motifs of flora and still life designs made in the style of free brush painting. On a dark green or dark brown background applied white or golden subtle patterns, like a needle tool. Also Samarkand potteries adorn their products with large decorative six or eight point star.
In Tashkent potters make two types of pottery, first being old style which has the ornament wave form of green, yellow and brown. The modern type has engraved markings on the edges with a fine floral ornaments and polychrome colors on a light background.
Modern Shakhrisabz masters paint their ceramics with large yellow and reddish colors on a background of dark red and sometimes covering it with a blue glaze.