art and culture

Shashmaqom's singers A unique genre of classical, professional music of the oral tradition. It represents one of directions of the makamats general system in the Central Asia. On 7 November 2003 the Director-General of UNESCO declared the Classical Music of Central Asia - Shashmaqom (Uzbekistan/Tajikistan) a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Shashmaqom was selected as a Masterpiece due to its outstanding value as the principal form of classical musical expression of Central Asian people; in its systematic diversity it is a real musical encyclopedia of people of Central Asia. In structure and logic, it is one of the greatest phenomena in monodal music.

The origins of folk art are hidden in depths of centuries of history. Numerous archaeological diggings in rural areas have revealed and continues to reveal new aspects of this ancient land and its culture.

Uzbek applied arts has a wealth of variety when it comes to style, materials and ornamentation. Ceramics, silk and cotton weaving, stone and wood carving, metal engraving, leather stamping, calligraphy and miniature painting are some genres passed from ancient times.

In the past each region has its own cultural and ethnic tradition, these unique features were established by local guilds that strengthened these characteristics through their art. It was possible to recognise where someone came from by his tyubeteyka (embroidered skullcap), the colour and style of his chapan (gown). The embroidery in the house identified the housewife's or her mother birthplace.

The development of folk art and craft in Uzbekistan is very important. To encourage and support artists, the Human Union of Folk Craftsmen was established. An Association of Folk Craftsmen called Usto was celebrating its 20 th anniversary last year and the scientific industrial centre, Musavvir recently celebrated its 10 th anniversary.

There are many research papers; albums and books dedicated to Uzbek folk art, and some of them published in Uzbekistan and some abroad. The Scientific Research Institute of the Academy of Arts has compiled an Atlas of Folk Arts and Crafts of the Republic of Uzbekistan. In 1998, our American patron, Guido Goldman, who published an album on Central Asian Silk History, was awarded a medal and the title: "Honorary Member of the Academy of Arts".

The Academy of Arts has awarded many skilled craftsmen with honorary titles and certificates. Some have even received special government awards. Great assistance in the revival and support of folk art and crafts is being given by non-government organisations in Uzbekistan. These include UNESCO, the Zumrad Culture Centre, the Association of Business Women of Uzbekistan, and an American company, Craftsmen Help, Inc. and Soros Fund.

Items produces by folk craftsmen are not only used for scientific research, national and international exhibitions - local people, guests and foreign tourists love to buy them! Exports of contemporary art are duty free. However, it is important to note that law restricts the export of arts and crafts made before 1945.

Ceramics of Uzbekistan is very diverse in its colour and design. It is also regional in terms of shape, design and colour. The most well known centres for ceramics are Rishtan and Gurumsay situated in Fergana valley and Khorezm. They are famous for their glazed white and blue ceramics. The regions producing multicoloured ceramics are Gidjduvan, Shakhrisabz, Tashkent and Samarkand. Gidjduvan is the area that has always been highly regarded by experts for its exceptional ceramic art especially because of its rich dolour, golden yellow, dark brown and green tones. Bowls, piolas (national cups) and dishes are painted inside and outside.

Painted ceramic toys (bushtack) are produced in a little village called Uba, 40 km outside Bukhara.

During the second half of the 20 th century, miniature plastic toys made by Samarkand craftsmen became very popular. These pieces were not only amusing as toys; they are also depicted scenes filled with people's characteristics, humour and naive stories.

Another kind of Uzbek craft typical for Samarkand is the art of making crockery, smoking pipes (chilim) and snuffboxes (noskadu) from little gourds.

Uzbek craftsmen of today still practice ancient jewellery making techniques for cutting gemstones, grain filigree, granular work, engraving, embossing, chasing and enamelling. Modern jewellers not only keep traditions, they also take into account fashion demands and styles.

Since ancient time, the largest cities in Uzbekistan - Bukhara, Tashkent, Samarkand and Khiva, have been the centres for cooper engraving based on traditional methods. Each region has specific shapes and designs. The most popular items are jags, teapots and trays, and not too long ago, washstands, bandbasins, and buckets for keeping produce and large bowls. Cooper embossed items were highly appreciated in the past and today they are very popular too. The water vessel (kumgan) motif often appears in patterns on ceramics jags and embroidered cloths. This is the symbol of wealth and prosperity. Tashkent and Bukhara are the two most popular areas that practice this craft.

One of the most popular trends of applied arts in Uzbekistan is embroidery. The several areas in Uzbekistan famous for their embroidery are Nuratin, Samarkand, Bukhara, Shakhrisabz, Surbandarya, Tashkent, Djizzak and Fergana. Each school is distinguish by its unique features such as ornamentation, composition, colour range and stitching. The traditional art of embroidery is still alive among the people of Uzbekistan. In Bukhara, Shakhrisabz and Tashkent embroidered cloths are mass-produced in factories. Gold embroidery is the first kind of embroidery. This craft has always and still is practised in Bukhara.

One of the most ancient crafts in Uzbekistan is weaving. Its richest historical tradition has remained with us today. Cotton fabrics and silks were in demand everywhere throughout Central Asia.

Uzbekistan's famous centres for sloth manufacturing are Samarkand, Bukhara, Kokand, Margilan and Namangan. Towns in the Fergana Valley still operate as silk production centres. Secrets of making these priceless cloths were known in these parts long before Great Silk Route was established. The art of weaving still exists in the Fergana Valley and, without a doubt, handcrafted cloth is still preferred to factory woven fabrics. In addition to the silk factory in Margilan, there is also a new enterprise Edgorlic that has been established to revive the ancient methods of weaving varnished silk and semi-silk. The art of cloth printing almost disappeared completely. It was very famous in Samarkand and Bukhara in the past. Today it is actively developing in the town of Margilan.

This is also a very ancient form of art throughout Asia and East. In the past it was the only way to satisfy the aesthetic needs of nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes. There are centres practising this traditional craft in regions of Djizzak, Syrdarya, Kashkadarya and Karakalpakstan. Silk carpet production has become very popular in Samarkand.

This art has roots along with the national architecture practised in Uzbekistan since the early Middle Ages. Today this art form is used and adapted extensively in modern interior design. Carved and painted tables, stools, caskets, pencil boxes and bookstands are popular pieces among local people and tourists.

This has been revived again in its traditional form as well as some modern variants. Miniatures stamped on leather, painted on paper miniatures, small lacquered boxes, framed pictures, pencil boxes and numerous other creative ideas. Please love to buy these skilfully painted pieces.


This site is realized by Informest within the SITIU project, co-financed by Act n. 212/92 Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

This site is best viewed with Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 and up.
Please direct any problems or comments to the