Tag Archives: fergana

Rustam Usmanov (Master Ceramist from Rishtan)

Rustam Usmanov

Rustam Usmanov’s art amply reflects the culture of the Fergana valley and the rich ceramic making heritage of Rishtan town, the oldest centre of ceramic art in Central Asia.

The Usmanov family migrated from Russia to Rishtan to add to Rishtan’s rich tradition of pottery. With Rishtan being situated on the Silk Road, the ancient major East-West trade route, it is thought that Rishtan potters may originally have tried to copy Chinese porcelain, despite the necessary kaolin clay not being locally available. This led them to the discovery of the local Rishtan clay, which more than made up for the absence of the kaolin clay. The Rishtan ceramists say their clay is so good that it does not require preliminary processing and exposure time. Adding to the beauty of the Rishtan ceramics is the ishkor glaze which gives Rishtan pottery its brilliant blue-green glaze, bringing alive the colors of the earth and …

Posted in Craft Heritage, Uzbekistan | Also tagged , , , | Comments closed

Fergana Valley: Ceramic, Ikat and Shavla

Rustam Usmanov and his wife

I travelled to Rishtan to see the ceramists who did the platters for me last year. It was bitterly cold and Rustam and his wife were very gracious, kept us warm (don’t miss their gorgeous home slippers!) and well fed while we worked on my order. The shavla – porridge version of plov – we had for lunch was delicious and Zahid and I tucked in. We couldn’t say no when Alisher invited us to lunch later so had to eat again! Tough job this!! I am amazed by how much time and effort Rustam and Alisher make for me. They are world renowned ceramists who earn very well doing exhibitions in the US, Europe and Japan and my orders pale in comparison.

The discussion at lunch moved to the size of the Indian market and the buying power of the middle class, all quite surprising to them and Alisher in …

Posted in Uzbekistan | Also tagged , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Uzbekistan Beckons

Shılpıq, Karakalpakstan

Nisha and I are off to Uzbekistan on the 27th. Can’t believe it’s actually happening! Four months ago, I didn’t even know where Uzbekistan was and now, it’s like I have travelled there a million times on the virtual silk roads of our times. And that’s even before I’ve physically got there!

We’ll be crisscrossing the country in search of craft that flourished in the 13th century when, besides trade, artists and artisans met and interacted along the silk routes. It is believed that ceramists from China were summoned by the great conqueror Amir Timur to teach the potters of Fergana the secret behind their brilliant blue porcelain. The nomads that traversed the Central Asian steppes frequented the silk roads to trade their suzanis, kilms, jajims (tribal blankets) and carpets. Miniature painters from China would inspire royal painters of Central Asian dynasties to document the life and times of their …

Posted in Uzbekistan | Also tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

We Didn’t Just Shop, We Also Ate…

Non, Non, Non

The food in Uzbekistan is absolutely divine. Here are some of our favourites (with links to The Art of Uzbek Cuisine if you’d like to try some at home!):

Non: Every region had its own special bread – from the raised rim sesame seed topped version in Fergana to the layered pastry version of Samarkand Kefir: a thick drinking yogurt often served with breakfast which we happily dosed with stewed apricots or strawberry jam Suzma: The delicious yogurt dip with fresh herbs helped us polish off a lot of bread when we were too impatient to wait for our main course Samsa: Their samosas made with a variety of fillings. We’re still lusting after the pumpkin samsas at Fergana and promise to not be shy and eat the whole plate the next time we’re there. The mince lamb tandoor version in Bukhara was well worth second and third helpings! Chuchvara: …

Posted in Uzbekistan | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Day 5 – Snow in Tashkent!

Nisha outside the Grand Orzu in Tashkent

In the call of duty Nisha has not only traveled to faraway lands but she’s also braved heat, dust, snow, frozen extremities, alien food – all in the search for exquisite crafts.

On our way back from Fergana to Tashkent, Nisha decided to visit a medressa in Kokand known to host workshops of the old masters. We stepped out of our car only to get lashed by icy winds. The bleak grey skies did not dampen her enthusiasm. Bundled up from head to toe, she checked every workshop and quizzed the masters.

When we first traveled through the Tian Shan mountains, it was a bright clear day with glorious views of the ranges. On our way back from Fergana, the pass was all fogged out and the mountains were brilliant white! We came back to a snowy white Tashkent – this was no powderpuff stuff but serious snow. Even the …

Posted in Uzbekistan | Also tagged , , , , | Comments closed

Day 3: Fergana to Rishton

Rishton Master Ceramist

Rishton is the home to the craft of ceramics. An hour’s drive from Fergana, it’s a rather well-to-do town on the Tajik border. Ceramics made in this town find their way to all other cities in Uzbekistan. There are an estimated 300 practicing ceramists in Rishton. The red clay in this region forms the base for the stunning ceramic platters, pots and other decorative objects.

We spent the day with two master ceramists in their studios. After the initial “what-are-these-two-girls-doing-here?” look on their faces (the standard response we get everywhere), they warmed up and took us through their workshops, their firing kilns and even their private museums. They fed us well (delicious pumpkin samosas, dried apricots, fresh bread, copious amounts of tea and coffee). All artisans we’ve met so far were incredibly nice, warm people with no hint of arrogance. They love their craft and they shared every bit of …

Posted in Uzbekistan | Also tagged , , , | Comments closed

Day 2: To the Fergana Valley

Kamchik Pass, Tian Shan Mountains

We left Tashkent this morning to drive to the Fergana valley. On our way, we dropped in at a contemporary ceramist’s studio. Over tea with macaroons and biscuits, he explained how his grandfather – a well known ceramist – had dedicated his life to documenting traditional motifs and ceramic techniques. Sections of his handwritten diaries could be seen in the family’s private gallery. This young man started learning from his grandfather when he was six years old. He said grandparents are more patient than parents! His own father is a renowned ceramist and had exhibited around the world. As we stepped into their gallery, we were introduced to many styles of ceramics – the Tashkent style, Steppe style, contemporary designs inspired by embroideries, traditional blue pottery and more. This ceramist clearly loved his work, spoke at an unhurried pace, and was rather tolerant as we gushed over his pieces.

We headed out to …

Posted in Uzbekistan | Also tagged , , , , , | Comments closed
  • Welcome to Arastan

    Arastan was an online store that curated rare and handpicked treasures from exotic bazaars along the ancient silk route. Unfortunately we ceased trading in early 2014.

    You can read about the reasons for closure.

    You can still browse some of the products we used to have via the category links above, although none of these are available for purchase.

    Relive our travels and stories by browsing our articles and archives from the menus below.

  • Browse all our articles

  • Browse our archives

css.php