Boysun Ceramics

Issue #2 • 1115

On the days of the Second Open Folklore festival “Boysun bahori” ( May 14 – 19, 2003), within the framework of which was held the International Scientific Conference on problems of preservation of traditional crafts of Boysun district, we did our searches for traces of ceramic manufacturing in Boysun. Our searches were caused by a big number of ceramic toys – whistles widely presented here on sale to visitors of the festival. As a result of searches we have found out about the master in ceramic craft, Eshonkulov Izzatulla born in 1930 living in the street of Sh. Rashidov. Unfortunately, from the middle of 1990s the master due to poor health can not work. According to information of the master Izzatulla, in their dynasty everyone were masters in ceramic manufacturing. Their family came from the village of Bakhovvudin Nakshband near Bukhara, famous for the handicraftsmen. A ceramic master were his father, Karaev Eshonkul and the grandfather, Usto Kara Jebachi (translated as a militiaman) who initiated the move from Bukhara in Boysun, and the great – grandfather, Usto Babakhai, and great – great – grandfather, Usto Akhmad – this is the last person the master Izzatulla remembers.

The workshop in the yard of Izzatulla, which stands idle about ten years, because of illness of the owner, was built by Karaev Eshonkul in 1927 – 1928. Under stories of the master Izzatulla, his grandfather Kara Jebachi moved to Boysun approximately in 1880s and married the local girl.

Izzatulla started to work when he was 15. He took the clay from Passurkha, a settlement located 3 km far from Boysun. He uses lead glaze – kurgashi. Ishkor refused this alkaline glaze as it is very harmful for the skin on hands. He had learned the ceramic craft at the father. As Izzatulla told, in Bukhara at the early 20th century, besides Usto Kara Jebachi and Usto Eshonkul worked the other five kulols: Usto Mamasaid (uncle of Usto Eshonkul and accordingly a brother of Usto Kara Jebachi), Usto Turaa, Usto Fazil, Usto Gofur and Usto Boymurod. Izzatulla at the age of 12 sold ceramics of these masters on a market in Boysun and, on his memoirs, the assortment of this ceramics was rather wide – kosa, Tobok, khurma, piala, kuza, oftoba, tubak, whistles of different forms – as birds (chumchuk – simon), goats (taka – simon), rams (kuchkor – simon) and pipes (nai).

Izzatulla manufactured laygans, tagora, kuza, tuf don (spitbox), khums and etc. On our request the hosts have found in the small shed some old enamel dishes and two non-glazed jugs. One of dishes with a pattern “pancha” – branch with five petals is unique. It doesn’t have analogues among known samples of Central Asian ceramics of the 20th century. The dish is made in a technique of kalami: on a light background – soft lines in dark blue – blue and green colors, which create very beautiful and impressing picturesque palette. In this case, we most likely deal with traditional ceramics of Bukhara, about which existence we have some information but the samples have not been revealed yet. This tradition has been kept thanks to submit of the secrets from generation to generation: ancestors of the master in the 20th century moved from Bukhara to Boysun. The other two dishes are not so picturesque – by style they sharply differ from the dish with an ornament “pancha” and are made more likely in ceramic shop at the Silk – weaving factory as a serial production. However, such ceramics is available at the other Surkhandarya masters (for example, at Zukhur Rasulov from Denau). According to the master, the products with glaze were made only by the masters of his dynasty that testifies for the fact that the other masters represented the local craft tradition connected more with manufacturing of non- enamel home utensils.

The nephew of the master of Tura Eshonkulov is also ceramic toys maker. He was born in 1954 and now continues to work as an electric engineer at the Boysun silk – weaving factory that has its own ceramic shop formed in 1950s. In 1983, in this shop the brothers Eshonkulovs and a pupil of Usto Izzatulla, Khudaikul Yuldashev as well as the master from Samarkand, Usto Dadakhan worked. Usto Tura has specialized in toy whistle manufacturing recently – in 1990s. They are of two types: zoomorphic (birdies and animals) and as short pipes (nai). Unfortunately, he does not have all skills of a potter’s craft. Meanwhile the master keeps fine ceramic glazed and non-enamel pieces made once by his father – the master Nazrullo Eshonkulov. This beautiful yellow – ochre dish with rare graved pattern as the socket with vegetative edges, a small bowl of same colour – kosa, not glazed jugs, ob-khura (double vessels for birds in a cage), and as a unique whistle – jug (kuzacha – ishpulak). Glazed dish and bowl are made in traditions of famous Urgut yellow – ochre ceramics with graved pattern, however the originality of ornament of the big dish suggests about the possible sources of this ceramics, like the dish with the pattern “pancha” to traditions of the Bukhara school.

On the words of the master Tura, when he was young, the popularity of the ceramic products had sharply fallen, therefore he did not pay proper attention to development of skills of ceramic utensils manufacturing. In his opinion, he could engage in restoration of traditions of the father – there are samples of his products and the uncle Izzatulla, who in spite of disease, still can share secrets of the skill and teach to work on a potter’s wheel, idle for about ten years, and to kiln in the oven. Kilning of toys is made in khumadan – a small oven with a rectangular hollow with iron lattice below, on which the dried toys are stacked – about 300 pieces for one kilning. The master takes clay in Passurkh kishlak, where the brothers Eshonkulovs took the clay for the ceramics. One or two bags for 20 days. The brought clay is made small, sift twice, and then soaked in the special trays made of wooden frameworks, rapped with cheap fabric – sheeting. Clay is being soaked for three day. On 20 kg of the soil – 9 litres of water. From this clay mixTurae are taken separate pieces for modeling of toys. In day the master can make about 30 pieces. After modeling the toy is dried for one – two hours, and then are done hollows for sounding. After that the pennywhistle are dried up finally, during one – two days, then is put in the oven where can be put simultaneously about 300 – 400 toys. To prepare one set for kilning, the master spends about ten days. The process of kilning takes 2 hours and requires about a bucket of coal. Tura Eshonkulov said that his toys are sold in Samarkand, Bukhara and Karshi.

A native of Boysun, Eshonkulova Pardakhon is engaged in manufacturing of toys too. Her father Eshonkulov Khalbai from a dynasty of Eshonkulov ceramic masters, also worked as a ceramic master in limy shop at the Silk – weaving factory in Boysun. Pardakhon learned to produce toys at her father. Like her cousin, Usto Tura she makes the birds and pennywhistles – nai. She kilns her toys at him. She tries to make sculptural figurines of various birds and animals, but absence of skills results in kitsch. As she said, her elder brother Son Kholbaevich Eshonkulov living in Shakhrisabz, makes toys too.

More detailed research for genesis and development of the Boysun ceramics will be done in nearest future, but already now it is possible to tell about small scientific sensation – never earlier mentioned in the scientific literature the center of the Boysun enamel ceramics has been revealed. Its sources go back to traditions of Bukhara school that disappeared. For the first time, was also revealed the manufacturing of the Boysun toys – pennywhistles, which have not been reflected in the scientific literature. Today extremely vital is the issue of revival of the Boysun enamel ceramics and the further development of manufacturing of toys – pennywhistles, and for that it is necessary to organize required conditions for revival of the Boysun ceramics.

Author: Akbar Khakimov,
Suraie Alieva

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