Miniatures by Sadriddin Pochaev (1870-1948)

Issue #1 • 1781

Folk applied arts, first of all, painting of “nakkoshlik” and Bukhara miniature painting, have been forming for centuries. Developed forms of this art entered the new century thanks to our national masters Nabijon Hafizov and jeweler Sadriddin Pochaev.

Illustration to A. Navoi’s “Farhad and Shirin”.
Paper, watercolor, guache

Sadriddin binni Pocha (Pochaev) was born in kishlak of Paishanba in Romitonsky district. His father died young. When Sadriddin was 10 years old, his mother brought him to jeweler Mirazim.

After 20 years of working as apprentice, talented Sadriddin became a jeweler among palace jewelers at the court of Bukhara emir Abdullahadkhan (1885-19Ю) and Mir Sa’id Alimkhan (1911-1920). Like many other masters, Sadriddin Pochaev produced jewelry ornaments, various subjects for the palace and participated in minting of Bukhara silver and gold coins.

In 1920-1924, he worked for new association of handicraftsmen producing boxes for cigarettes, ashtrays, chests, etc.
When bolsheviks took power, gold, silver and jams were confiscated by the state, and jewelers suffered persecutions. Sadriddin Pochaev began to study a new craft – miniature painting. In spite of his age, the artist reached tops in this field. The first work was illustration to the manuscript of Indian treatise “Lazzatli niso” (“Sweet woman”) under the order of the last Bukhara emir. This manuscript with more than 50 miniatures is kept in the state museum- reserve of Bukhara art architecture. Miniatures of Central Asia influenced much on formation of many-sided creativity of S. Pochaev who studied them carefully.

Mausoleum of the Samanids. 1927.
Paper, watercolor, guache.

Experience in art of jewelry and style of “kassosi” (patterns with enamel, engraving and filling) to meet exclusive needs of customers predetermined his success in new business. When the state became a major customer of jewels, associations of artists – “shirkats” were formed. They involved miniaturists and masters in Arabian calligraphy to produce advertising and propaganda works, different placards and slogans decorated with national ornaments. Nabijon Hafizov and Sadriddin Pochaev did this job.

Later miniature painting became a major occupation of Pochaev. He was the last representative of Uzbek miniature painting of the early 20th century. Twenty eight miniatures on separate sheets are kept in the Museum of Arts by Kamaliddina Bihzad in Bukhara. They have been bought at Sadriddina Pochaev in 1945. These miniatures can be classified into four groups:

1. Pictures of architectural monuments.
2. Series devoted to Alisher Navoi’s life and art.
3. Illustrations to manuscripts and books.
4. Miniatures on modern themes.

The saint on mythic animal. Paper, watercolor,
guache

Miniatures of the 19204930s are copies of Iranian and Indian miniatures. “Mausoleum in Gus” (1925), “Monuments of Iranian architecture” (1925), “Architectural monuments of Warsaw” (1926), “Architectural monuments of Turkey”, “Mosque in Turkey” (1926) and “Mosque of Caaba” (1927) are among them. Later Sadriddin Pochaev painted Bukhara monuments from nature. He created such miniatures as “Mausoleum of the Samanids” (1927), “Chor minor” (1929), “Minorai Kalon” and “Miri Arab” Madrasah (68×50 cm, 1929) and “Caaba” (67×45 cm, 1929). S. Pochaev demonstrated great skills as miniaturist, especially in reproduction of exquisite patterns from decorative tiles on ancient monuments.

The miniature “Saint on mythological animal” (16×18 cm, 1930) became creative interpretation of Indian miniatures Sadriddin Pochaev carefully studied and copied. The miniature shows a woman in national costume with a wand in hands. She is sitting on the animal reminding a bull. She looks proud and majestic. The tail of animal reminds a snake and its head too. The picture looks very dynamic. It is difficult to say if it is a copy or original. Anyhow, the style of S. Pochaev is clearly seen. The works are done on papyrus. Major materials are water colors and gouache. Sometimes the artist used oil paints. Series of Indian works is done on plywood, the others – on paper. “Woman in the scarf ” (24×155 cm) and “In the garden” (24×15-5 cm) are done in technique of papier-mache.

At factory. Paper, watercolor, guache

“Singer and servant Shahnabat” (95×9.5 cm, 1932) shows a date of the poet with his lover – servant-girl. “Prince hunting for the eagle” (18×16 cm, 1930) exposes the prince with hawk on the right hand. The prince wears tight and long costume fixed on the waist with the belt. The fur cap covers his head. Against the background there are trees and blossoming garden. Seasons in the miniature are given by means of general symbols.

Miniature “Rich women are teetering” (18×26 cm, 1930) has a realistic plot. Under the majestic tree there are seven women, dressed beautifully and richly. They are teetering by turns. Pictures of ducks and other waterfowl occupy the foreground. The scene is being observed through window glass. Book graphics occupies an important place in the art of Sadriddin Pochaev. These are illustrations and miniatures to Abdurahman Djami’s “Yusuf and Zulaiho”, Alisher Navoi’s dastan “Farhad and Shirin” and manuscript of “Tutinomah”. The artist had occupied a place in the history of art as a carrier of traditional Central Asian book miniature of the 20th century. At the end of the 19th – early 20lh centuries, miniature art survived transformations. Pictures were getting to be simple, free of I excessive details and grandiosity, so closing to national folklore.

Miniatures on modern themes are original. The plot of “Elections” is very simple: the big room is decorated with placards; a voter in the foreground is putting a bulletin in the ballot box. The woman-observer is sitting on the chair opposite. On other side there is “khontakhta” with flowers in pots on. The woman in national costume is leaving from the room. On the left, there is a group of voters and three persons giving bulletins. Two securities are on the right. The artist succeeded to show dynamics of the scene and perfectly gave characters of its numerous participants.

Rich woman are teetering. 1930.
Paper, watercolor, guache

Miniature “Cotton gathering” is perfect too. The cotton field in the center is bisected. On the right there are seven women and on the left – four men gathering cotton. The artist perfectly showed atmosphere of the busy season. These S. Pochaev’s products break “gold canons” of miniature painting, but have unique character and look contemporarily.

The peak of miniaturist Sadriddin Pochaev is formed by six miniatures devoted to life and art of Alisher Navoi. The artist represented life of the great poet from childhood up to his death. According to historian Hondamir, a contemporary of Alisher Navoi, the poet went to school at the age of four. The first miniature exposes how the mother brings Alisher to school. The teacher, Alisher and his mother are in the foreground. In the background there are other pupils, doors of school rooms and garden. Alisher has a book in hands and “jild” (bag) on the back.

The other three miniatures show the most important moments from life of the great poet. In 1472, the playmate of Alisher Navoi, Sultan Hussain Baiqara gave him a title of amir and then a post of vizier. It was a start of social and political activity of the poet. He did much for prosperity of native Herat and Khurasan in general. He built numerous roads and bridges, caravanserais and hotels. A new city with hospitals, madrasah and majestic buildings grew on the bank of Injil Navoi channel.

Ink-pot. Paper, watercolor, guache

A. Navoi’s role in prosperity of Herat was great. Zahiriddin Muhammad Bobur wrote: “Nobody else cared and did so much for science and art. Great singers Ustoz Kulmuhammad and Shaikh Noyi, Hussain Udiy were supported by Alisherbeg and enjoyed true glory thanks to him. Ustoz Kamoliddin Bihzad and Shah Muzaffar also became famous supported by Alisherbeg. Ordinary people constructed majestic buildings initiated by Alisherbeg” (from “Boburnomah”). Sadriddin Pochaev perfectly reproduced economic activity of the poet. Thousands of builders, stone-cutters, carpenters, painters and artists are exposed working in small miniatures. Episodes of everyday life of that epoch are becoming close to us.

The fifth miniature of this series reflected the tragic event happened before the death of Alisher Navoi. Historian Handamir informed that in Khuja Abbos, on December 31, 1500, Khuja Shahobuddin brought a good message that Shah Sultan Hussian was arriving. Alisher Navoi hurried to meet his dear friend. A little later, Alisher Navoi said to Khuja Abdullah: “I feel bad, what’s with me?” Supported by Khuja Abdullah and Handamir, Alisher Navoi came up to Hussain Baiqara, kissed his hand and suddenly fainted… In the early morning of January 3,1501 Alisher Navoi died.

The last work from this series is devoted to the funeral. Herat is mourning. The streets has emptied. Tobut with the body of the poet in dark blue fabric is taking the last way. In the background the women from the palace are bitterly tearing.

This series is done in tender colors. Bright colors, so typical of the early works, are absent here. Color is correspondent to the event. The brightest color is dark yellow given to clothes of the main character. In traditions of Central Asian miniature painting, the figure of the main character is bigger than others. Sadriddin Pochaev it a creator who reproduced the atmosphere of his epoch in miniatures. He continued traditions of great artists working in Asian miniature from Middle Ages up to the 19th century. He brought it into the 20th century and enriched it with the spirit of new epoch.

Koregdi Jumaev

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