Interior decor of dwelling houses in Tashkent

Issue #2 • 1066

(The end of the 19th – beginning of the 20th century)

Architecture of dwelling houses forms unique art heritage of local masters, which is based on traditions of general national architecture. Essentially, it synthesizes two forms of art – architecture and decorative applied art, integrating engineering and decorative design methods and solutions.

At the end of the 19th – beginning of the 20th century, Tashkent was a big trading, cultural and political center. Alongside with buildings of cultic architecture, dwelling houses were built in plenty. Unfortunately, the most of them have lost their original form.

Architectural – decorative techniques of walls finishing originate in traditional interpretation of decor’s technique. Division of wall plane in rooms and aivans was done by means of narrow bars – rohi-namoyon. Horizontally, walls were divided in three parts: a lower panel – izora, a central part occupied by panels and niches and an upper part with a row of cornices – sharafa, forming a transitive belt to ceiling joists. All parts of walls, ceilings of mehmona and aivans, columns and beams were decorated with decorative ornaments, made on plaster and wood. Wall painting often combined with ganch carving. Sometimes, painted and relieve panels on walls alternated, creating colourful compositions. Tashkent masters tried to give the ornaments a third dimension. With this design, they applied light palette to a foreground and dark – to a background.

Ornaments of wall paintings and carved ganch panels consisted of geometrical and stylized vegetative compositions within a lancet frame or a deep niche. Favourite vegetative motives – a magnificent bouquet in a bowl, weeping willow, bushes of chrysanthemums, pomegranates, etc. had definite semantics and symbolized “Life Tree”, affluent bounty of the nature, eternity and prosperity. For example, pomegranate tree – a symbol of fertility, a willow – yearning love, a cypress – the starred sky. Pictures of flowers symbolized the earth beauty: tulip – a symbol of spring, irises – quiet and long life, twisting stalks of bearbine – riches and vitality. No less widespread pattern of “wave” symbolized swift – flowing life. Studying the semantics of Tashkent wall paintings, we should note, that artists – ornamentalists, using classical medieval decorative techniques, did not refuse the elements and symbols of pre-Mongolian arts and some European forms.

While at the beginning of the 19th century, wall surfaces were painted fractionally and just in a combination with carved ganch, from the end of 19th century, it obtained more significant role, quite often filling up all surface and superseding laborious ganch carving works. We can notice that general palette became lighter and was extended up to 10 – 12 colours, added by orange, blue, light green and others light tones.

Tashkent wall painting is characterized by compositional planarity and localized colours. Smooth gradation and nuances of colours are absent. A line of black, claret, ultramarine or white colour contours each element. Masters preferred contrast combinations – white and black, red and green, green and yellow, white and ultramarine, etc. (1, p. 14). This is one of common features of Tashkent and Fergana wall paintings. Both Tashkent and Fergana schools of wall painting expose ornamental vegetative motives interpreted in realistic manner, close to their natural prototypes (2, p. 6). Creating a sketch of a composition, artists tried to draw from nature. Therefore, each master had his own album with samples.

Medallions and rosettes are typical ornamental elements of the Tashkent decor. The most widespread were medallions in a form double arches – kosh-mehrob. They were filled by delicate trefoils – “madohil”, almond-shaped medallions – bodom, etc. Typical is a combination of rosettes from four flowers – chor-gyul and petals – bofta. Among patterns there is a magnificent large leaf – sho-barg, multi-petal flower of a camomile – oi-guyl, a big flower with numerous petals, almond – bodom, different circles, short tendrils – targil, curls – margyula and contouring lines – siyoh-kalam. All this set of elements was applied in various combinations.

In interiors of houses, a special place belonged to ceiling paintings, which covered wooden friezes and cornices in rooms, mehmonhona and aivans. The patterns were performed in contrast and bright tones with framing, done in light or dark paint, depending on a background. This type of ceilings is represented at Ismailov’s house (№t 134, tupik 14, Khamza street). The composition consists of elongated cartouches and medallions of blue-green tones. Their centers are decorated by multi-petal rosettes with stalks, branches, leaves and buds of light tones stretching sideward and standing out against a dark green background. Vassa is painted in red, green and yellow colours. The ceiling looks more effective, when vassa alternates with painted square caissons (houses in Farabi street., tupik 2; № 70, Tahtapulskaya street).

Framing of beam ceiling by wooden planks on a perimeter represents another variant of a ceiling design with wooden squares. In this case, the squares are located around a level of the lower sides of beams. This variant was fixed at the house of Kadir Akbarov, dated from the end of the last century. Design of 9-beam ceiling, divided in numerous rectangular and square cells, located chequerwise, is simple and original. The central part of the plafond is formed by a square coffer on plywood base. This part is decorated by eight-beam radial composition with geometrical ornament “ghirih”. On perimeter of the square are located rectangular cells on plywood base in the lower sides of beams and decorated by the ornament vas – vos, used in decorative lattices – pandjara. Geometrical ornaments are made from semicircular planks, a background between which is filled up by a fine stylized vegetative pattern. In the corners, there are squares with dome-shaped hollows – hauzak. The lower sides of beams are covered by border ornament, consisted of elongated cartouches and medallions, painted in white. Stylized vegetative pattern from twisting wavy bines, stalks, flowers, leaves and curls is located on their background. The palette is blue-green, stalks – yellow, flowers – white, pink and blue. Contouring line – black, ultramarine and claret. Some lines are enriched by silver, and zandjira – by gold. Each square has own set of motives and colour palette. In general, they form harmonious composition, supplementing each other.

The next type of ceilings represents vassa, entirely replaced by painted squares. There are two variants of this type. The first variant represents a ceiling structure, which remains exposed, as the squares are located above the beams and are divided by painted stalks – bandi. The second variant represents a uniform net of squares, located at a level of the lower sides of beams. The ceiling divided in squares has a character of caisson ceiling. Some caissons are decorated by stalactite dome-shaped hollows – hauzak. These two types of ceilings are characteristic also for cities of Bukhara region and Fergana valley.

In interiors of Tashkent houses, we can find some kind of a board ceiling, which entirely hides beam structures. By a form, such ceilings represent planes, decorated by relieved ghirih from planks, contoured by strongly profiled cornice. The planks are painted in gold or silver colour, depending on a general composition and palette. This variant is represented at the house № 18, S. Rahimov’s street, pr. Shahtinsky.

One more variant of the most complicated design of a ceiling – figured board plafonds, where diverse geometrical figures of squares and hexagons divide a ceiling in some levels. These plafonds are characteristic, chiefly, for palaces or elite houses. In this case, we should note that designing clarity of a ceiling is lost. Each plane is decorated by relief ghirih from planks. The space between them is completely painted by a rosette-flower pattern. Prevailing palette – white, red, yellow and green colours. The painting is well combined with decorative solution of profiled cornices, giving some grandiosity to such plafond.

Especially interesting is a ceiling – chor-burchak, installed above avian – kashgarcha. It has an original design – four beams of ceiling structures are installed by their ends onto the middle of the wall, forming a diagonal arrangement of caissons in the center, and triangular panels on the corners of a square (the house of Tursunbai, # 87, Shahtinskaya street). Its name – chor-burchak means four corners. Such ceilings were widely spread in the Fergana valley, in this case it has original interpretation (2, p. 22).

Surveying separate samples of Tashkent wall paintings at dwelling houses, we must note that, in that period, they were carried out in traditions of Fergana school. The reason, probably, lies in geographical neighborhood of two regions, what enabled masters to work in this or that city without problems. However, unlike masters from Fergana, Tashkent masters more often used ghirih, characteristic for Bukhara school, or those approved patterns, which were initially created for interiors of palaces and elite houses. Compositional solutions of interiors are various and interesting. Decor of rooms and aivans is based on traditional principles of national architecture.

Author: Zukhra Dosmetova

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