Monday 5 June
FINALLY able to start uploading all my blogs! the internet connections to wordpress have been impossible for AGES SO here goes…. Will probably add all the writings and add in the photos later….not sure yet.
Ferghana to Tashkent Uzbekistan
I never thought that I would be celebrating one of my birthday’s in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. We set off to visit the ceramic studio of master ceramist Rustan Usmanov in Rishta. We were shown the whole process of how the clay is thrown onto a wheel and moulded into beautifully shaped vases, and bowls. The clay is terracotta and before bisque firing is coated with a kaolin slip to create the white background onto which intricate patterns are handpainted using fine goat hair brushes and glazes made from cobalt, copper and manganese. Each artist interprets the traditional patterns. The design is drawn or stencilled on using powdered charcoal which is applied over the pin pricked stencil. The painted work is glazed with a mixture made from quartz and ash from a plant, before its second firing.
Of course I couldn’t resist buying a few tiny bowls.
Setting off from the ceramics studio we drove to the Palace which is now a museum, the ceilings and walls are covered with colourful and intricate designs. In Kokand (Qoqan) (2nd only to Bukhara as a religious centre) we visited Juma (Friday) Mosque Khudoyar-Khan Place, Kamol-Kazy Madrassah and Norbut-biy Madrassah on our way to Tashkent. Madrassah means place of learning and teaching. Numerous alcoves surround the courtyard and often have trees or fountains in the centre. The buildings are covered with intricate mosaic/cut tile inlaid work, calligraphy, painted wood beams and ceiling, carved wooden pillars, plasterwork, carved wooden doors and carved marble and stone. The list is endless. Another highlight were the elaborate chandeliers. We visited the Palace of Khudaya Khan 1863-1874,now a museum in with only 19 out of 113 rooms remain of one of the most opulent palaces in Central Asia.
Driving to Tashkent we crossed another high pass and we greeted by soaring eagles, the journey down was rough and steep but the views were amazing – still don’t know how the big trucks get up the gradients.
In the evening we celebrated my birthday at Caravan a traditional restaurant filled with a waterwheel, wall hangings, pottery jugs and yummy food, wine!! And beer!! The freshest and tastiest stuffed vine leaves I have ever tasted. They even prepared a cake for me.! To finish off a wonderful evening with all our MG friends the band came in and played Happy Birthday.