Bukharan copper chasing, along with ceramics, is a craft that is famous both at home and abroad. Chased items are quite diverse in form and function: they include all kinds of bowls, vessels for water and other liquids, cooking cauldrons, roasters, vases, jewel-boxes, smoking devices, lamps, etc.
Chased copper articles were created by masters of three trades: coppersmiths (miskor) made forms of red and yellow copper and brass, and coated vessels with tinning. Smelters (rihtagar) cast individual parts of the items: vessel handles, cap knobbles (qubba), spout tips (sanula), hinges and joints (chaspak), etc. Chasers (kandakor) decorated the items with lacy chased and embossed designs, also employing slotting technique (shabaka).
The Bukhara school of chased copper, unlike the schools of Kokand, Tashkent, Khorezm, and Qarshi, is characterized by simplicity and austerity of forms. Relatively empty background is wrought with strokes or dots. Smooth and broad contour lines (kundal) lend a special expressivity to the Bukhara ornament.
Cleanly shaped vegetable design (islimi) is very graceful and beautiful. Sometimes Bukhara masters decorated their items with calligraphic inscriptions, stylizing them as vegetable patterns. In rare instances, background was tinted in different colours, which was always done very tastefully.
Bukhara chasing is a fine and laborious art. The tools used include a steel pen (pulat kalam) and a hammer. There are several types of steel pen. For instance, to chase a flower ornament, the pen must have a thick cone; for working the background (zaminbardori) it should be slim. For making flower ornaments, a cone-less tool can be thick or thin. Besides, one needs a sharpening stone and an iron compass. Modern tools are not very different from those used in the past. Thus, a vessel filled with special resin (mum) is used to keep the item in place and to absorb shocks. If the vessel is deep, they fill it with sand or compacted rags.
Chaser begins with outlining his composition on paper; the drawing is then transferred to a tracing paper. Master uses needle to make holes along the contour lines of the design; graphite is then applied through the holes, creating the outline (naqsh) on the vessel. Next, chisel is used to create the design. Then the item is polished either manually, or by machine. If the metal is yellow, it shines like the sun, if it is red, it burns like fire.
Contemporary coppersmiths and chasers create trays (lali), all kinds of platters, water containers (oftoba), cosmetic holders (surmadon), jewel-boxes (sandikcha) and other items with not only decorative, but also utilitarian function: in recent years they have been used extensively in households.
One of the dynasty chasing masters from Bukhara is a talented pedagogue Sodiq Musinov, nephew of the renowned chaser Salimjan Khamidov who restored traditional Bukhara chasing in the 1960s. Salimjan Khamidov’s grandfather and father – usto Hamid and usto Salom – are also famous masters of chasing: their works are kept in many museums around the world.
According to usto Sodiq, Salimjan Khamidov was very strict and demanding with his sons and nephews, but gentle and kind to his other students, of whom the famous master had more than sixty over his lifetime.
Sodiq is one of the first masters who taught the art of chasing to girls, many of whom later earned the title of a master and participated in international and national exhibitions. One of his first and most talented students was Gulchehra Tosheva. Nurhon Saidova, Dilbar Rakhimova, Mahbuba Musinova, Zebo Jumayeva, Adolat Rakhimova Kholida Tosheva, Munira Kurbonova, Farogat Karimova, Fazolat Karimova, Munira Fayzieva, Muzaiyam Makhmudova, Shamsia Gafforova, and Rano Jumayeva also made good masters. Before them, the art of chasing was considered an exclusively male prerogative.
Since 1980, usto Sodiq has taught chasing at the School of Arts of the BukharaStateUniversity. In 1993 the master became member of the Artists Union of the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan.
Presently, usto Sodiq mostly employs combined technique, using the old-time ornaments, such as bodom, zanjila, zeb, qush bodom and others, creating new original compositions. Usually he makes lali – round or elliptical trays, decorated with geometrical shapes, various friezes and rim bands. Geometric pattern is auxiliary. Most of his works are performed in naqsh (islimi). Zoomorphic images are rare and mostly appear as fragments of an animal’s picture: the eye of the nightingale (chashmi bul-bul), ram’s horns (kuchkorak), fish scales (pushti baliq), etc. Sometimes the chaser introduces images of architectural monuments of Bukhara, picturing them in the centre-piece. Some of his chased items feature people’s portraits.
The master’s works stand out with their plastic expressiveness of shapes, classically balanced proportions, and stability of ornamental motifs wrought in the deep chasing technique known as kandakori.
Maintaining high artistic and aesthetic standards set by chasers of the past, Sodiq Musinov passes his knowledge and experience on to his students. Among them is his son Akmal who has followed in his father’s footsteps and already mastered many secrets of his art.
Usto Sodiq is a regular award-winning participant of the “Tashabbus” contest and exhibitions at home and abroad. His works were exhibited in Tashkent, Almaty, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Santa Fe, and other places.
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