Uzbek metal chasing

Uzbek chasing is one of the most ancient types of applied art in our country. Embossing on metal is a creating of carved ornaments for the decoration of handmade items mainly from copper and brass. It is one of the most common types of handcrafted work of Uzbek ethnic art in terms of artistic design, that is why traveling around Uzbekistan, you are lucky enough to find many items decorated with embossing in all diversity of local folk motifs.

Embossing in Uzbekistan is a noble profession. Chaser compared to a simple tinsmith is like a carpenter-cabinetmaker in comparison with a carpenter. The chaser, in order to make a pitcher-oftoba, must own the craft of a foundry, blacksmith, chaser and engraver for metal, a carver and a tinker.

Uzbek copper-chased products have long been popular with the local population. Except to the utilitarian value, their decorative qualities were appreciated. The chased copper dishes were exhibited on the shelves of open built-in closets as part of the decorative decoration of the dwelling.

History of the Uzbek chasing

The first chased items found in contemporary Uzbekistan are dated to the 4th millennium BC. A small number of samples were found during archaeological excavations. These were the simplest knives and jewelry. Much later, in the XV century, this art reached the high level. The spectrum of chased items has significantly expanded. The masters began to make jugs, plates, bowls, trays, caskets, smoking appliances. All of them were not only used for their intended purpose. Their unique decor adorned the dwellings of the nobility, being a symbol of prosperity and luxury.

The flourishing of the art of chasing is considered to be the period of the 18th-19th centuries. Products, dated to these centuries, today are a treasury of historical and ethnographic museums of Uzbekistan and other countries. Most of them are now in the museums of Uzbekistan and abroad.

The tools of the Uzbek masters for chasing are quite simple and almost do not differ from those used by artisans in the Middle Ages. With the help of simple and not sophisticated tools, the tinsmith makes artistic products, giving them bizarre shapes, decorating them with subtle patterns. From ancient times they have survived to our days almost without change. These are incisors of different widths, a small hammer with a slightly curved and thickened at the end handle, metal compasses.

chasing in Uzbekistan

Uzbek school of embossing

For a long period of existence in the art of embossing, local styles, characterized by unique forms of products, as well as technical and artistic techniques, developed. Uzbek embossing represents various methods of engraving. Deeper engraving is called “kandakori”, less deep - pure engraving is called “chizma”. Except for engraving by Uzbek masters, slotted chasing “shabaka” is used.

The most famous were the products of the Bukhara and Khiva chasers, distinguished by the beauty and plasticity of the form, the severity and perfection of the motifs of the ornament, the depth of the chisel.

Bukhara embossing on copper with ceramics is one of the well-known kinds of folk art for us and abroad.

The Bukhara school of copper-chased articles, in contrast to the Kokand, Tashkent, Khorezm and Karshi, is distinguished by modesty and rigour of forms. A relatively free background is processed with a stroke or dots. Smooth wide contour lines - strips (called kundal) give Bukhara ornament the particularly expressive.

Plastically clear floral ornament (islimi) is very elegant and beautiful. Sometimes Bukhara masters decorated their products with calligraphic inscriptions, stylizing them under plant patterns. In rare cases, the background was tinctured in different colors. It was always done with great taste.

Bukhara embossing is a subtle and painstaking art. It is performed with the help of such tools as a steel pencil (pulat kalam) and a mallet.

Khiva tinmen make water vessels with flattened sides, sometimes ribbed. The relief of chasing is much deeper than in other areas, the background is sometimes coloured with black lacquer. In addition to vegetable ornament islimi in the form of shoots dotted with flower heads, the Khiva chased items are adorned with characteristic patterns in the form of medallions on the background of a grid of complex configuration that gives the items a special color.

A variety of shapes and carved decorations is characteristic for chased items from Karshi and Shakhrisabz. Masters have developed a peculiar design of the lid in the form of a box of cotton to a bowl for washing. Its petals open when carrying the product. In the design of chased dishes, Shakhrisabz masters use overhead plates and stamped parts, medallions with inserts of turquoise and colored glass, also use a color tint of the background and surface.

Samarkand embossing kept artistic traditions of the last centuries. The uncommon form of Samarkand tea dishes is rare among products from other regions of Uzbekistan.

One of the oldest centers of Uzbek embossing is in the Fergana Valley. The masters make vessels for water and for tea, using the favorite motif of the almond-shaped pattern "kalampir". Only in Fergana traditional copper lamps and candlesticks are made. Among the jugs from Kokand there are tall slender vessels “oftoba urdak” of pretentious shape in the form of a duck. Vegetable Kokand ornament is shallow, but clear and densely sated with small details creating bizarre patterns. Products are finished with a punch, a stroke, various kinds of meshes and figured notches, decorated with turquoise, garnets and corals. The Kokand masters were the first in Uzbekistan who began to mint architectural motifs on the trays, in particular, the palace of Khudoyarkhan and fantastic animals.

It should be noted that the traditional Tashkent chasing for metal is similar in form and ornamentation to the Kokand one. The geometric motifs resemble carved wood ornaments, in particular the “pargori” style. Some elements of the patterns of Tashkent embossing were rare in other regions.

Uzbek chasing

The process of Uzbek embossing

The work of the chaser begins with the moment when he throws a composition on the paper, which is then transferred to the tracing paper. With the help of a needle along the contour of the whole pattern holes are pierced. Through them graphite is poured, creating a contour of the pattern on the vessel. Then, using the chisel, a picture is drawn. Then the product is polished by hand or on a machine. If the metal is yellow, then it shines like the sun, if - red, it burns like fire.

It should be noted that the popularity of chased items in Uzbekistan has not lost its relevance in our days, because you can find a product for every taste and color, whether it's a jug or a vessel for wine, or a dish. Arriving in Uzbekistan, get a masterpiece of Uzbek chasing.

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