Marble cutting of Gazgan masters

Issue #1 • 1275

Marble cutting is a component of national and spiritual heritage of the nation. Studying ancient monuments of Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Tashkent and Shahrisabz, we always admire at carved marble pieces created by masters from Gazgan.

Information about Gazgan and its marble is available in such historical works as “Zafarnomah”, “Abdullanomah” and “Boburnomah”.

In ancient times, marble cutters made lyagans (big plates), decorated with fine patterns and “ba/T – quatrians. They always were very popular. Lyagans from marble were used in palaces of Bukhara emirs alongside with gold and silver utensils.

Masters worked with simple instruments, such as temirsalam, tesha and grinding stone.

In Bukhara museums of Sitorai Mohi hossa and Ark there are more than four hundred marble lyagans. Bait on one of them reads (translated from Uzbek):

This marble lyagan is more expensive,
And sacred, than porcelain Kashgarsky.
There is a reason -
It came from magic mines Haidarskikh.

On the other:

Let the owner of this lyagan live for ever,
With a smile on lips,
Full pleasure of life,
Riches and staff of life.

Aphorisms and sayings on marble lyagans always have a sacred meaning and were cut thoroughly. For example, the inscription in Arab on one of them reads: “Glory and respect to a person are determined not by his post and riches, but by his knowledge and kind character”. That proves that masters of marble cutting were thinkers of good insight and wit. Unfortunately, we do not know their names. Few pieces have inscription “amali usta Abdurakim”. In kishlak of Gazgan, rare marble figures of “Dragon” and “Fish” are in the marbli reservoir near the club. They wen decorated by Abdurahim Muhandis; Unfortunatelly, they are strongly damaged Present condition of these monuments should set us to thinking.

At Koktash ota cemetery in Jom kishlak of Koshrabat district there is a marble piece with bait by Mahmud Gazgoni (translated from Uzbek):

I have found neither patience nor
stability in this world
Misery and disasters around.
In this old “shed”
I could see just empty steppe and path
of sufferings and torments.

At the cemetery in Gazgan kishlak, I old tombstone bear the inscription: The day is coming, my life will end,
Our body will appear nowhere
My bones under the ground.
Who will casually come to my tomb,
Let him pray to my ashes when reads these lines.

In general, such stones and inscriptions keep the hidden idea and great historical past. Unfortunately, the art of Uzbek marble cutters has not been studied enough. Samples of this craft are stored in many museums of India (“Tadjmahal”), Samarkand (“Registan”), Bukhara, Kokand, Saint Petersburg, Moscow and Paris. They still wait for careful study.

Marble cutter is a heavy and laborious profession. It could be compared with digging of a well by needle. Wise national saying – “To grow a flower on stone” says about it.

Ancient products from marble were decorated with various vegetative patterns – gandumak, chingila, shoh and shoh buta. Patterns of islimi on marble are remarkable. There are also geometrical patterns. Mosque of Shahimardan in Gazgan is built from marble, including column bases and walls. Originally its gate and foundation – bolodah were marble too. In a course of time, they have been lost. Window lattices were also of marble.

Now marble window lattices can be seen in mausoleums of Khuja Bahouddin and Abduhalik Gijduvani. In mosque of Shahimardan there are inscriptions on the marble stones around the walls. They are suras from Koran and hadiths. Many subjects are decorated with beautiful patterns. Arabic letters are written in Sulth style. Similar marble tombstones are on the tomb of Khuja Hasan Nury at Nurota spring and in mausoleum of Kosim Shaykh on the tomb of Amir Ahadkhan in Karman. The plates bear memorial verses on bravity of human life, its transitory and wise lines from Koran.

We should carefully save products of Gazgan masters, study their works and promote further development of this art.

Gularo Abdullaeva

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