A tribute to Abdurauf Avezov, the gentleman Bukharan master craftsman

Abdurauf Avezov 1955-2012

Abdurauf Avezov 1955-2012

Abdurauf Avezov was born in the old town of Bukhara in 1955 and completed his secondary schooling in a local Russian school. He started working in copper-chasing when he was twenty under the tutelage of Hasan, a master in the craft. Over the years he developed his own unique style using mainly vegetal patterns. He travelled widely showcasing his work especially to the countries of the former Soviet Union but more recently stayed home and completed orders that went to Germany, France, Italy, England and to us in India. Over the years he trained four students who eventually migrated from Uzbekistan and gave up the craft.

Yesterday I heard that Abdurauf passed away. I liked him. He was my best supplier and symbolised all that is Arastan. He knew I trusted his sense of design and never disappointed, sending me stunning work every time always on time. He took it upon himself to introduce me to other crafts people who he knew did exceptional work, wanting me to have the best Bukhara had to offer. He was so very proud that we chose a picture of him for our home page and sent the link to his daughter so she could see it.

Unfinished Wedding Platter

Unfinished Wedding Platter

He was extremely proud of the traditional Bukhara craft and happy that younger people were choosing to learn it. He was very understanding of the reasons for them reducing the work, carving twice rather than three times as he did. He hoped he could come to demonstrate his craft in India one day, a country he and other Uzbeks have a great nostalgia for.

I visited many brass carvers in Tashkent and Bukhara where the craft thrives but never found anyone who matched Abdurauf’s eye for design or quality. Their work is lighter, taking less time and so more commercially viable for the craftsman. This is the story of craft I see unfolding before me everywhere I go. Fewer people getting into it and those who do simplifying the work so they can produce faster and cheaper. In the process they lose the skill to make what those before them did and slowly as the market becomes flooded with me-too cheaper products and prices naturally drop, they leave the craft all together. If we don’t pay for high quality skilled output we will lose the underlying skills all together and regret it when it is too late. Eventually it is consumption that defines what will survive. For those who bought Abdurauf’s beautifully hand carved brass platters, you have a collector’s piece on your hands – exquisite, unique, made with skill and patience by Bukhara’s finest brass carver. May you rest in peace Abdurauf. I am glad to have known you.

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