Choydish, munisak, and lyagan. Treasures of the Uzbek collection at the Museum of the East

March 24

The exposition of the Museum of the East shows numerous vessels, bedspreads, clothing items and jewelry belonging to the Uzbek culture. Ekaterina Ermakova, chief researcher of the Department of Art of the peoples of Caucasus, Central Asia, Siberia and Far North, selected five exhibits and told what they are interesting for.

Lyagan (late 19th century)

Proper pilav if believed to be cooked in a metal cauldron, but can be eaten only from fired clay pottery. Pilaf is laid out on lyagans, large ceramic platters, which were specially made for this purpose by local potters.

The village of Rishtan in the Ferghana Valley, where there is a deposit of pottery clay, has been famous for ceramic pottery from ancient times. Rishtan potters (called usto) make platters with recognizable blue patterns. The special radiance of Rishtan pottery is given by ishkor glaze of a greenish hue, which was made from the ash (ishkor) of a special herb kyrk bugin in the old days.

The ornament of Rishtan pottery is distinguished by clear and accurate compositions. Platters are often adorned with images of pitchers and knives and have a grid border running along the edge. This pattern was considered a talisman, as well as the lyagans themselves, which were sometimes hung in houses opposite the door as a protection from the evil eye.

In the exposition of the Museum of the East, there is a ceramic platter found in 1989 on the floor of a neglected mosque at the exit from the town of Shafirkan to Bukhara. It fell out of the beamed ceiling, in the square cells of which several such platters were later found. One can see dark patterns on the bottom, in good light— three wings connected in the center.

Skullcap (1920s-1930s

There is a rare men's skullcap in the museum's collection — a kulloh. It is completely covered with a carpet pattern, embroidered with the thinnest chain looped stitch, so there is every reason to believe that it was made in Bukhara. The thing is that each district had its own tradition of skullcaps embroidery: local residents could easily distinguish Bukhara embroidery style from, for example, Kokand, Margelan or Khodzhent ones.

Women did not wear skullcaps in Tashkent before the revolution. The wedding was the only exception: the groom could put this traditional male headdress on the bride's head, and she gave him a cap embroidered with her own hands. At the beginning of the 20th century, the skullcap started to enter the women's costume gradually— it was worn together with headscarves, depending on local customs.

In the Museum of the East, along with the rest, one can see various elements of women's costume, such as silk cords with silver pendants and beads (they were woven into braids) or a woman's velvet cap with a sleeve for braids, which women began to wear when they got married.

Munisak (early 20th century)

This is a women's elegant robe, which was worn for various celebrations. It had a special meaning. In the old days, girls started wearing munisak when they turned 12 years old. The robe of a special cut with folds under the arms was first worn in a festive atmosphere during the kaltapushon ceremony.

After the owner of a munisak died, the garment was to be given to a washerwoman. It was believed that she only takes it for safekeeping and will return it the deceased on the day of resurrection from the dead so that she could reborn in female form. If the robe of the deceased was planned to be used in the future, then it had to be left for the night on the roof under the light of the stars.

In the 20th century, the munisak went out of everyday use, but it continued to be stored in a chest for ritual purposes.

Choydish (19th century)

Tea drinking in Central Asia is a necessary ritual for receiving guests. Tea seems to have always been drunk here, but in fact this drink became popular only in the second half of the 19th century.

Along with the tea, special vessels for brewing it also came into use. In rich houses, there were bronze pitchers with a short spout attached to a low throat. They are called choydish (the name can be translated as “tea-kettle”). The pear-shaped shape of a choydish contributes to rapid heating of water.

Tea was drunk from porcelain bowls that were brought from Russia and China. Sweets or katyk, a fermented milk product, were served in ceramic bowls (kosa).

The museum presents a variety of choydishes, which have ribbed, flattened or rounded shapes, decorated with engraving, with cast shaped handles.

Suzane (19th century)

Embroidery is one of the most popular types of folk art in Central Asia of the 19th century. Large decorative bedspreads called suzane intended for the bed of the newlyweds, and then served as wall panels became widespread here. The name means “sewn with a needle”.

Until the last quarter of the 19th century, the masters who embroidered suzanes used silk threads dyed with natural dyes. The tones were soft and deep. The patterns were drawn by a specially invited craftswoman — kaliamkash. She took a canvas (narrow strips fastened with a thread) and applied the contours of an ornament — most often a floral one.

After drawing the pattern, narrow strips of fabric were embroidered separately and then sewn together. Therefore, often the pattern at the site of the seams does not match, and the details of the same ornament are embroidered with threads of different shades.

Each district had its own distinctive patterns, varieties of embroidery stitches, or combinations thereof. For example, the suzanes from Shakhrisabz, which do not have even a millimeter of free background, are covered with tiny iroki crosses, which create the impression of a carpet pattern.

A suzane was also part of the dowry that a mother prepared for a girl. On the eve of the wedding, in order to complete the laborious work on time, relatives and neighbors were called to help, and all together took up the task. This is a kind of ritual that began with the reading of the Koran. When the bedspread was ready, it decorated the house during the festivities.

If you continue to use our website, you are agreeing to accept the use of cookies on your device. Cookie files ensure the website’s efficiency and help us provide you with the most interesting and relevant information. Read more about cookie files.
Accept ccokies