The city of Rishtan has always been famous for its vibrant ceramics of sky-blue color. It appeared in this area thousands of years ago, and still enjoys fame among tourists. The beauty of such dishes is that water always stays cool, which is a salvation for inhabitants of hot Ferghana Valley and the whole Uzbekistan, and hot drinks and food keep their warmth.
Why is Rishtan ceramics so popular? The point is that ceramics of this city is the most environmentally friendly. For example, colored Gijduvan pottery contains lead, and eating or drinking from it can be hazardous to health. Acidic foods, for example, should not be kept in such items. Such dishes can be recognized by the bright luster that betrays the lead. It is better to hang such items on walls and use them as a decoration. At the same time, Rishtan masters use a unique glaze ishkor, which is manually produced from natural mineral dyes and ashes of mountain plants. Some Rishtan masters still use 20% lead filler, but they observe the conventions and try to create things that will not be harmful to the buyer.
Masters use ishkor in different ways. Some prefer to decorate their crockery with geometric patterns, while others make their drawings smooth and soft. Drawings have a special meaning on each crockery. Each curl can carry its own sacred meaning, which was introduced by the master. For example, the fish symbolizes purity and water, birds symbolize flight and freedom, and the pomegranate symbolizes abundance and fertility.
This ware produces a very sonorous sound, so you can identify it by tapping on the surface with your knuckles. Especially popular items made of Rishtan pottery, are lagans, jugs for grain, oil, water and other liquids, soup bowls, drinking bowls and unusual vessels Urdak inthe form of fantastic birds.
Some still stick to the old traditions, and some are not afraid to take risks and even make interior ceramics, such as tiles for fireplaces. But there are still artisans who paint dishes in different colors, which is not true Rishtan ceramics. Tourists and foreigners, unfortunately, may not know about the real traditions of Fergana Valley and do not understand what is the real Rishtan ceramics. Of course, the most authentic pottery, which holds a thousand years of history, will be available in Rishtan itself. And everyone will be able to find a certain piece to their liking: bright and glossy tableware with many drawings or matte with minimalistic images, but in which the author has put a certain and sacred meaning.
Formation of Rishtan pottery
Pottery in Fergana Valley was popular at the dawn of civilizations. Being an important transit point on the Great Silk Road, Rishtan developed extremely fast, both economically and culturally. The ceramists created unprecedentedly colorful ceramics of azure hues, which distinguished these objects from the ceramics of other peoples and regions. By the end of XX century, unfortunately, the culture of Rishtan ceramics was lost, but later, there began an active process of its revival. Modern masters, who tried to create dishes based on the example of the old school, were in many ways more mobile and easier on the rise than their ancestors and were willing to take risks. Thanks to modern masters, new and unusual things were created, but today, the situation has fundamentally changed.
Despite the popularity that is growing to Rishtan ceramics and the many exhibitions that are held in Tashkent, Russia and Europe, the culture of azure ware, ware has fallen on hard times. Young people no longer pay close attention to the ornaments and draw them thoughtlessly. The tradition has begun to degenerate because new masters, in an attempt to sell as many products as possible, use colored paints, or apply drawings and portraits that are fundamentally inconsistent with the old Rishtan school. Leading artisans still inherit the tradition of white and blue ishkor. Particularly famous Rishtan masters are the Kamilov family, Sharafiddin Yusupov, Alisher Nazirov and Rustam Usmanov.