Uzbek porcelain. Existed or not. Leave a comment

As well as many inhabitants of Uzbekistan since my childhood I have got used to living in the house with national porcelain dishes: lagans, teapots, plates and many other things decorated with such native pattern “cotton”. I have never thought why talents of local craftsmen have revealed so widely and loved by the whole nation in several  forms and ornaments. What is the reason of absence white as a cotton of ornamentally various Uzbek porcelain on our tables? I have tried to sort out these questions with a help of Daminov Gayrat Rakhimdjanovich, a member of academy of artists of Uzbekistan, the art critic and the skilful master on porcelain.

A little about the history.

According to one of the versions porcelain appeared in Asian land due to the cultural interests of Sarap-Mulk-Hanim, a beloved wife of Amir Temur.  According to one of the versions she invited masters on porcelain from China where the porcelain craft is mentioned already with 4 AD (some sources specify also earlier terms).

Pursuant to another sources porcelain technique was brought by a dynasty of Yuan (1280-1386). That fact has no small importance, since acquaintance with local culture has not passed imperceptibly for Chinese craftsmen. During the Mink dynasty Chinese porcelain gets new dark blue color. This was done due to the application of «Muslim cobalt blue ». Meanwhile, it is necessary to note that there was interchange between knowledge and porcelain-formers. In spite of being used to manufacture convenient in life so-called «vital» ceramic utensils local craftsmen adopted more graceful Chinese forms. It is important to note that this stage in ceramic development of both cultures will leave indelible centuries similarity between porcelain products of craftsmen of China and Central Asia.

Despite the success at creation of artwork with a new porcelain raw material, the further manufacturing of porcelain did not go well among local craftsmen. Manufacturing porcelain products were replaced by faience, which was easier in processing and less costly. Further necessity for more utilitarian forms, as for example jugs for comfortable fulfillment of a ceremony “namaz”, also it is probable by virtue of absence of wide natural opportunities of extraction of necessary raw material, have returned a ceramic craft to continuation of manufacturing of pottery.

Porcelain factory of Kuznetsov’s in Central Asia

Meanwhile the intention to bring clear whiteness of porcelain and a practicality of utensils together has not left local ceramist and has led to the development of a transparent lead glaze “white angoba”. The glaze allowed to create an ideal background for the artist and had external similarity to porcelain.

The subsequent procession of porcelain has continued in 19th -20th centuries in Uzbek land. At the beginning, thanks to orders of Central Asia to Russian porcelain factories Gardner, Dulevo (later they continued to work in structure of company of porcelain -faience factories М.S. Kuznetsov).The goods were also delivered to Asia by workshops of Orlov and Ivanov, Kharpunov brothers, Kornilovih and Bateninih brothers.

Experts and true judges of porcelain mark that the most picturesque and bright goods were made exactly for Central Asia, taking into account its originality. Arabian language has been used for the inscription and dating utensils for eastern clients.

The first porcelain factory in the Central Asia started in Tashkent in 1953.  On this note of the uncompleted porcelain epopee in Central Asia and in Uzbekistan in particular, I have addressed to one of founders of a modern porcelain craft in Uzbekistan – Daminov Gayrat Rakhimdjanovich.

“Blue charm” G.Daminov

Professional history Gayrat Daminov  totals more than 20 years. His works became significant ornaments at the State Museum of Art of Uzbekistan,  A Museum of an Applied Art of Uzbekistan, Museum-manor Kuskov in Russia and among private collections worldwide. His sketches are used in the Koksheta Porcelain Factory in Kazakhstan. The emblems which were created by him are used by many significant organizations, including the Red Cross. The history of the true master began as a hobby of the boy for drawing. Seeing an obvious talent of the child, parents decided to send him to art school named P.P.Benkov.  Then he enters to the Tashkent Architectural Institute. The next stage in life of the generated artist is work in above mentioned porcelain factory in Tashkent during 1977and 1995.   

Telling about how everything began, Mr.Daminov recollects masters of porcelain from Russia and Belarus with gratitude who arrived to Tashkent factory for training new craft to mature, but inexperienced with porcelain ceramists and artists. All new was acquired by local masters quickly to the wonder of instructors. Acquired skills, love to bright colors and eastern ingenuity have led to unique, original porcelain products.

”Samarkand” G. Daminov

By then in the international porcelain branch already has received a high rating the bone porcelain prepared on the basis of bone ashes of large horned livestock. The main advantages of it was whiteness and thermo stability, hence durability and translucence. In order to achieve the same results, as at usage of bone ashes, Uzbek craftsmen in the led by Rizaev Anvar – Candidate of Chemical Science invented their know-how. The secret of the new invention consisted in addition of the stiffened stalks of a cotton-гузапая ́ in porcelain clay. The new invention has been successfully approved in a tandem with Gayrat Davletov the main artist of a factory (since 1982). The result has surpassed all expectations.”Even fingers were transilluminating” – says Gayrataka remembering Uzbek porcelain as white as snow and as light as feather. The further introduction of innovations demanded financial investment. In 1991, from the moment of gaining Independence by Republic the factory becomes joint-stock. People who were remote from understanding porcelain were ruling the factory. Very soon the factory stops its existence. The unique invention of local virtuosos remains without attention.

Talking about time of existence of a factory the master also marks that the high level work has been achieved due to high-quality of raw material which was delivered Duleyevo Paint Factory. Maintenance with paints of 58 porcelain and faience factories in the territory of all USSR was the main duty of Dulevo. Porcelain clay and other components were imported from Ukraine and other Russian factories. It is necessary to emphasize especially that the subject of raw material is a complicated question when the question is about its extractions in Uzbekistan. The matter is that high contents kaolin gives the whiteness to porcelain. The porcelain raw material extracted in Uzbekistan, contains as the smallest particles of ferric oxide. Therefore, there are dark dispersed dots on products – spots which reduce whiteness and worsen appearance of a product. Hence, the initial material extracted here should be cleared and enriched with appropriate kill from coloring impurity. In its turn it demands introduction of innovations and improvements of technical base of branch. For example in Uzbekistan, in the city of Angren, similar sort projects have already begun their job organized jointly with foreign investors.

Hearing it allowed me to draw the following conclusion that Uzbekistan can successfully develop a porcelain craft in different directions. For achievement of success in this business we possess little, in terms of base of technical and raw-materials but Angren is a visible example to this question which can be solved. At the same time people of our country possess with so many things in terms of skill which developed centuries among local population, about a delicate feeling of beauty and about high potential in achievement of competitive tops in the crafts demanding patience and diligence.

National porcelain dish “lagan” with pattern “cotton”.

 One more secret which has arisen within the years of activity in Tashkent factory is who is the author of the well-known pattern “cotton” which is closely associated with Uzbek porcelain. According to Gayrataka has told to us that creation of a pattern belongs to R. Arifdjhanov. But by virtue of complexity of a design of a pattern, the simplified variant of “cotton” for mass manufacturing has been developed by J. Karabaev.

Mr.Daminov likes to repeat the words of M.V. Lomonosov:” The Supreme achievement of ceramics is porcelain”. Undoubtedly porcelain is the noblest ceramics. However porcelain has hierarchy inside the group. As it has already been marked earlier, the most valuable porcelain is the one which has ideal whiteness. Value of porcelain is determined according to its “singing”: the more voiced and longer the sound is at percussion, the better a product is.

By virtue of value of porcelain there are situations in the market at times when faience products are confused with porcelain. In the help in such situations it is important to know that a bottom ring of a porcelain product is white and not covered with a glaze. It can be explained by manufacturing of porcelain the product is exposed to baking several times. As the temperature of baking of porcelain is much higher, than at faience products the glaze of bottom is necessarily cleaned off, otherwise having fused, it will paste a product to a support. Faience is covered with a glaze completely as its structure porous and the glaze serves as an original blanket on a product.Faience products also are less durable. With a lapse of time cracks appear on them and the internal surface grows dull.  

“Raspberry silk” G.Daminov

The price of porcelain which is white as a sugar varies a lot. The reason is not always obvious. Mr/Daminov is holding two cups (piala) in his hands. The first one was painted manually while the second is called “decol”a way of drawing of printed images. It is possible to paint with a product also with the help of a template. It is evident that a picture done by the master manually is alive. The flower ornament gives sensation of a flower in a hand, colorful pepper make fingers of hands hot while the paradise birds give inexpressible flavoring qualities to tea. According to Mr.Daminov it is quite simple to distinguish a manual painting from decol. The manual painting is a human factor whereas decol and a template is ideally drawn image. In the manual painting each side of a pattern, a sheet, branch as on a vivid bush differs in size, a saturation of color. Each time the hand of the master makes a different intake of paints, each second brings something new and allows creating more shades and forms for a person in contrast to machine.

In order to the ready masterpiece remained the same further craftsman uses stages of roasting. Each color demands its temperature and amount of roasting. Gayrat burns his works up to 5 times at a temperature of 1350 degrees. It is necessary to note that less qualitative porcelain products are burnt at 950 degrees and less times. Such porcelain product with low quality appears in the market. Unfortunately the price can sometimes exceed quality of such product.

Therefore it is necessary have a careful approach to a choice of porcelain. Porcelain is a thing which is kept carefully and passed from generation to generation. I have my grandmother’s porcelain set in the buffet. And you know what? It has not changed at all, its whiteness has remained untouched for years and a painting has saved its brightness. Even though it was purchased during hard times it breathes with luxury and a valuable ornament of a house. There is no doubt that it also will serve to the subsequent generations of our family loyally.

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The process of production of the pottery or porcelain products bases on three main stages: forming, painting and roasting. All stages suppose hand labor. Therefore repeated work saving main features will include slight distinctions from original sample in shades, weight, form and painting as a result of hand labor.

Piala–  small bowl without handles widening to the top. Piala is traditional kind of cup for the tea in the East.

Lagan –big plate with low borders traditionally used in Uzbekistan for serving hot meals.

Point technique is one of the laborious of contemporary techniques in pottery painting. The difficulty of the technique is that every point of the pattern should be put by the craftsman separately. Every point is a part of colorful and diverse pattern.

Pomegranate is traditional symbol in art of Uzbekistan, which symbolizes fertility, welfare and love in the family.

Islimi– kind of herbal pattern. The distinctive feature of “islimi” style in wood carving is disposition of pattern above the background that looks like lace covering the thing.

Girikh-kind of the pattern in east art represented as geometric forms with crossing lines, knots and points

Abrband- manual technique of making  tissues in Uzbekistan. This technique is well known in the world under Indonesian word “ikat”. This technology includes about 40 stages. The uniqueness of abrband  technique doesn`t allow to create two identical fabrics.


The ordered sample can have differences with original in natural shades of wood and slight distinctions in sizes and forms in the elements of the pattern. In case  if the work added with hand painting, saving main features the product will include some distinctions in details of painting.

Pargori–kind of relief carving . Pargori is based on the thin carving of the geometric net with circles, squares and triangles.

Abru bakhor– technique originated in Bukhara and translated as “spring clouds”. The essence is that drawing creating through mixing of different colors. As the result it is reached marble shades with smooth and at the same time unpredictable transitions from one color to another. The sources tell that the backgrounds in abru bakhor technique were used as a base for the decrees of the emir of Bukhara and for the book covers. Over time abru bakhor was adopted by India, Iran and Turkey and became very popular to XV-XVII centuries. An important role in saving and improving of the technique have played the artists of Uzbekistan and Turkey.

Chizma or chikma –pottery drawing technique supposed a formation of the pattern on the wet clay. The difficulty of the process is in the skills of the craftsman  to create a pattern with mathematic   thoughtful in short gap of the  time while the clay is wet. 

Kandakori – kind of hand stamping with the deep relief. The depth of the pattern is usually about 0,5 mm to 3 mm.


The ordered sample can have differences with original in shades of metal and slight distinctions in sizes and forms of the elements of the pattern. In case  if the work added with hand painting saving main features the product will include some distinctions in details of painting.

Adras– hand weaved fabric consisted 50% from silk and 50% from cotton. Adras gives cool in summer and warmth in cold weather.

Abrband–  manual  technique of making  tissues in Uzbekistan. This technique is well known in the world under Indonesian word “ikat”. This technology includes about 40 stages. The uniqueness of abrband  technique doesn`t allow to create two identical fabrics.


As there are no two people with similar fingerprint so the handmade fabrics in “abrband” technique impossible to repeat.  In this regard please take into account that in description of the product with using “abrband” fabrics is noted the dominant color of the product. In preparing of repeated sample will be used the dominant color of original product.  Construction of the pattern, secondary colors and shades could differ from original product.

In case of using of “djiyak”- hand weaved ribbon in making of the ordered product “djiyak”- will have similar color features with original. The pattern of each “djiyak” is inimitable.

The craftsmen can use for additional decoration vintage fabrics and accessories as unique samples. In such cases the order will be made in the maximum accordance with declared options and selection of the similar fabrics and accessories.


Due to the hand coloring of the threads for the carpets the ordered sample saving the main features allows differences from original in shades and details of the pattern.

Batik– technique of hand painting on tissue. From Indonesian “batik” means “to cover with drops”.


The products made in batik technique suppose hand drawing. Due to this aspect the ordered sample saving the main features allows differences from original in shades, details and forms of the pattern as a result of hand labor and uniqueness of each order.

Simurg – fantastic bird in mythology of the people of Central Asia and Iran. Simurg is a symbol of justice and happiness. The image of Simurg is associated with the good patronage.

Kosa– deep bowl without handles. Traditionally it serves for hot light plats.


Afrosiab–  an ancient name of the north part of Samarkand, also well known as Marakanda.

Tumor – an ancient shape of guarding amulet. As usual a pray sewed into the tumor.

Suzani– hand embroidered textile. Suzani is one of the most ancient crafts in Uzbekistan.

Miniature- special kind of fine art presenting illustrations of historical war battles, hunting and feasts.In old days in the East the books and manuscripts as a rule illustrated by the miniatures. The plots of miniatures are eloquent. The only one illustration can tell the whole story. The father of Uzbek school of miniature is Kamoloddin Bekhzad.

Iroki technique of hand embroidery made by cross or half-cross stich with twisted thread. which makes the surface grainy.Composition in iroki technique fills with the pattern all working area not leaving even a piece of free tissue. Every stich so flawless what creates impression of the  print on the cloth.  Predominantly iroky is used by the masters of Shakhrizabs.


Due to the hand coloring of the threads for embroideries the ordered sample saving the main features allows differences  from original in shades and details of the pattern. The fabric used as the basis for embroidery is colored manually and can also include differences in shades of color.