The Storyteller from Childhood

Issue #3-4 • 1157

The personal exhibition of Mansur Shavkatovich Kuryazov was held in October, 2004 at the Tashkent Museum of Applied Art. The exhibition represented the picturesque puppets and their installations – “Groom and bride”, “Family”, “Home”, “Birds of Happiness” and others, which created the wonderful atmosphere of kindness, warmth and joy.

M. Kuryazov is known far outside our country. He is the chief stage director of Khorezm Drama Theatre by Ogakhi, the art director of “Djaihun” Puppet Theater, the member of the Union of Theatre Workers of Uzbekistan and Republican Association of Masters and Craftsmen. Recently, he has become the member of the Union of Artists at the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan. M. Kuryazov was awarded the medal of “10 years of Mustakillik”.

He was born and grew in Khanka, one of the most ancient cities in Khorezm. The fortune itself predetermined his life way. The parents developed his skills in wood and fabrics work from childhood. He is grateful to his grandmother who knew a lot of fairy tales, stories and fables. “She is as dear to me as Arina Rodionovna to A.S. Pushkin”, – Mansur Shavkatovich says smiling. In 1980 he tried to enter the State Institute of Culture in Moscow, but failed. Next year he became a student of the Tashkent Institute of Theatre and Art, faculty of actors. In three years, he moved to the faculty of directors and graduated brilliantly.

M. Kuryazov worked at the Samarkand Drama Theatre and then at the Khorezm Drama Theatre by Ogakhi in Urgench. Later, M. Kuryazov decided to experience in the puppet play. He studied drawing, sewing and even singing. S. Kadirov who was the universal artist, as M. Kuryazov told, helped him much. The skills he obtained being a child were useful too. He became a puppet maker, a puppeteer, a director and actor simultaneously.

In 1991 Mansur Shavkatovich represented the first puppet of Ashadaroz, the goddess of fertility. She was about 2.5 m, simple in manufacturing and directing: the big head and long clothes hid the puppeteer inside, who operated it by means of the stick. Then he made the puppets, performing comic plays and duets. In the days of Navruz, the master represented the puppets for the genre plays: “Camels”, “Fight of rams”, “Fight of cocks”, etc.

In 1989 M. Kuryazov installed the workshop in his yard, where he made different puppets. He made the characters from papier-mache, painted them, cut the costumes and turned the details from wood of two-year trees growing directly in the yard. He bought the national fabrics, mainly old, and all things required for puppet manufacturing at the markets. He used the paper, straw, cane, clay…

The new ideas often came suddenly. Mansur Shavkatovich had two children, for whom he made small, so-called “home” puppets. Then he made the similar puppets for some relatives. Now the master make many such puppets and people willingly buy them. Mansur Shavkatovich thinks that these puppets are peculiar. Each puppet has brightly expressed national character, original costume, headdress and adornments. The children can learn the original Uzbek culture from childhood.

“Here are glove puppets in khurdjin – durable and beautiful, usually carpet or woven bag, – says the master. This is a souvenir, which can decorate any interior. Their heads are from papier-mache. The clothes hide the hand of the person manipulating the puppet behind the screen. Glove puppets appeared in the Uzbek theatre long ago (kul kugirochok). They represent the major characters of traditional Central Asian theatre “Chadir jamol” (“Tents of performances”). The personages (more than 15) were taken from the folk fairy tales – Kachal palvan (Punch – bogatyr), Bikakhon (Madam), Zumrad and Kimmat and others. The puppets for desktop theatre are made differently, – continues M. Kuryazov. The heads are modeled from clay and painted. The wire skeleton under clothes makes the puppets mobile and allows easy manipulating”.

The play is improvised on the basis of preliminary developed scenario. The dramaturgy of the puppet theater is rich in subjects and plots. The actors satirize moneymaking, avarice, cynicism, hypocrisy and the other defects. The titles of performances expose that: “Tugri wa Eti” (“Verity and Falsity”), “99 gold coins” where the central figure is Khodja Nasreddin, played by the puppeteer and others. The master pays great attention to the masks. He made about 500 masks, devoted to the good deity Ahuramazda and dark malicious deity Ahriman fighting against the first by the 2700th – anniversary of “Avesta”, the sacred Zoroastrian book. Each mask reflects advantages or some human defects, the dark sides of the soul. The masks are decorated with the ancient symbols of the life, interpreted by the author. These are symbols of the earth, water, air and the sun. Two crossed sticks mean fire giving warmth and food to the human. The ancient people received fire by means of friction of two sticks. The collection of more than 300 puppets gave the opportunity to create the puppet theatre-studio “Djaihun”. In 1993 Khorezm Regional Puppet Theater was established in Khiva on the basis of “Djaihun” and the puppet studio of Khiva Folk Theatre. The student of M. Kuryazov, Davranbek Atabaev headed the theatre. M. Kurjazov works as a chief stage director. In 1993 the theatre received the flag of the Republican Festival of Puppet Theatres in Andijan where Mansur Shavkatovich acquainted with the colleagues from Seattle (USA), Austria, Canada and Turkey. The master hopes to hold the International Festival of Puppet Theaters in 2006 in Khorezm.

In 2000 “Djaikhun” was awarded “Grand prix” of the Republican Festival of Puppets in Khanabad (Andijan region). M. Kuryazov arranges performances not only in the cities, but also in the remote mountain kishlaks. The performance of “Afandi’s Tricks” was staged more than four thousand times within fifteen years. The master played Khodja Nasreddin. He played more than fifteen characters from fairy tales, stories and plays. Especially popular among the young spectators is “Palvan-kachal” – brave, inventive and witty. M. Kurtazov’s puppet theatre where he is a director, actor and musician is popular both in our country and abroad, in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

In 2003 M. Kuryazov with his puppets took part in the festival of arts on Taiwan under invitation of the producer center “Guli Boku”. The site of producer center “Guliband” has the page informing on the work of the master. The book of opinions contains numerous records expressing the gratitude of our spectators and visitors from USA, France, Germany, Holland, Japan, Israel, Iran and the other countries. The dream of the master is to create the museum of puppets. He dreams about the domestic manufacture of Uzbek dolls and puppets in bright national clothes for our children instead of European or American. He regrets about the factory of “Tashigrushka”, which has been inactive for the last year. The only small shop operates producing bottle corks. Manufacturing of national dolls from local raw material will be the contribution into strengthening of our country independence, into patriotic education and love for the national traditions. Actually, the dolls and puppets acquaint children and adults with the national costume, life style and original national culture. They teach people in good and bring up the love for the native land.

Author: Larisa Levteeva

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