National Arts and Crafts of Uzbekistan
The Blue Ceramics of Rishtan

Rishtan is one of the most famous and oldest centers of ceramics in Uzbekistan. From the end of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century almost all of the population of Rishtan were potters. The centers of ceramics Guzum-Sarai, Chorku, Konibadam and others in the Fergana Valley had long since been under the influence of the ceramics of Rishtan. Its clay is suitable for making a whole variety of ceramic goods. That wonderful reddish-yellow clay is found in deposits 1-1.5 meters deep and 0.5-1-5/8 meters thick in almost the whole Rishtan area. The fine quality of the clay allowed it to be used without preliminary refinement, and without adding any other types of clay, as potters from other regions needed to. As well as the clay, the potters of Rishtan extracted various dyes, quartz sand, and fire-clay from the mountains.

Unlike the blue ceramics of Khorezm, Rishtan's has wide a variety of forms. There are various shapes of Lyagans (big dishes), different bowls for milk and food, vases and jugs for fruits and water, and Hums (big containers) for cereals and oil.

The repertoire of ornamental patterns in Rishtan ceramics is one of the richest in the world. There are geometrical and plant patterns, signs and symbols, and images of various subjects.

By the end of the 1960s the mentioned traditional centers of blue ceramics were dying out. The production of articles covered with traditional "Ishkor" glaze practically ceased. The Rishtan ceramic plant switched to producing earth ware covered with lead glaze which was not appropriate for the Fergana school of pottery. In this regard, the All-Union Conference of Art Critics, held in Fergana in 1974 to consider the problems of the pottery trade, adopted the crucial resolution to preserve the traditions of the blue Ishkor ceramics. That call was responded to by the local authorities and by the craftsmen themselves. Little by little they have been returning to the original technology, reviving traditional forms and decoration. Over the last 20 years the Rishtan ceramics have been fully restored to the traditional method of production. The production of the Ishkor glaze has been resumed as well.

During the period from the 1970s to the 1990s the following tendency in the development of Rishtan ceramics should be noted: paying tribute to tradition, Rishtan ceramists are easily changing both the interpretation of forms and ornamentation. The ceramists aim to develop something new, but the results are not always positively received. Laborious, detailed restoration of traditional forms and ornaments, unquestionably yields a more active display of individual artistic initiative and a widening of the techniques and patterns used.

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