T h e U i g h u r s русский
U I G H U R C R A F T S
Turkestan, the ancient fatherland of the Uighurs, is boundless territory of
Takla-Makan desert dotted with inhabited oases. From time immemorial, oases of
Khotan, Yarkend, Qashqar, Turpan, Qarashar, Kuchar, Miran and later Ghulja were
the largest and most significant historical and cultural centers where crafts
town was renowned for certain crafts practiced in it. Qashqar was known for
metal-working, fabric dressing, its felt, carpets, musical instruments, pottery,
and embroidery. Khotan was and is a renowned center of carpet-making and
sericulture. Yarkend was famed for exquisite metal-working, felt product and
carpets. Aqsu was famous for cotton fabric, currying and felt.
Uighur applied art includes decorative metal-working: blacksmith's work,
manufacturing of utensils, jewelry. Traditional set of metal utensils of the
Uighurs includes various washing sets; medicinal extracts ware, kettles,
samovars, trays, bowls, and others. Among them one can find distinctively
utilitarian items as well as exquisite ones.
appliances have handy shapes and reserved tactical décor. Decorative
goods are small sized, gracefully shaped and covered with fine open-work.
Domestic appliances were mainly produced of copper whereas decorative ones used
brass and silver. Brass often was silvered or adorned with silverware, i.e.
art occupies an important place among crafts. Jewelry was popular among Uighur
women as well as men at all times. Jeweller's favorite metal was gold and silver
skillfully amplified with mountings of precious and semi-precious stones such as
diamonds, emeralds, rubies, pearls, corals, amethyst, garnet, turquoise, nacre
and so forth. Jeweler’s techniques were complex and multifarious. Uighur
jewelry can be divided into the following: head, neck, shoulder and breast
wares; hand adornments which form an original traditional set.
Uighurs achieved mastery in manufacturing woven and felted carpet goods. Uighur
felt and knot woolen carpets were well-known and broadly exported far away from
Eastern Turkestan. In the world market Uighur carpets were valued as Persian
ones22. Town of Khotan
occupied a special place in carpet manufacture. In this oasis many a settlement
manufactured woven goods and in towns there were numerous larger carpet
carpets were notable for their variety in fancy decoration with complex
compositions of geometric; geometrized and plant; and geometrized and zoomorphic
pattern. Uighur carpet-makers dyed yarn with extracts from plant roots, which
did not fade if exposed to sun or water; they rather became richer in time23.
More than a dozen of colors were combined in a carpet. However, this multicolor
did not produce excessive motley. The colors harmonically merged in single
is one of ancient kinds of applied arts. Mainly it is regarded as part of
household manufacture. In Uighur households women embroidered to meet demand of
their families. Young girls prepared their wedding dowry, significant part of
which comprised embroidery. Embroidery was used in drapes, covers,
pillow-covers, pillow-cases, table clothes, decorative and prayer rugs, as well
as clothes. Traditional embroidery pattern is plant, favorite element of which
is flower motives reproduced without any stylization. Color spectrum of Uighur
embroidery is formed by contiguous or contrast hues.
Pottery is a
traditional kind of Uighur artistic craftsmanship. Potters produced coating
slabs and tiles, household and decorative crockery, lamps, and toys. Polished in
centuries various shapes of Uighur pottery are of particular artistic interest.
Among widely prevalent there are amphora-shaped vessels, pitchers, dishes and
bowls. Uighur potters broadly used glaze for dish coating.
called “chilling vessels” used for keeping perishable products were popular
among the Uighurs. They were coated with glaze for two thirds from the mouth
because they were buried in the ground for one third. They believed that glaze
prevents chill from penetration.
with conventional clay vessels, so called “sand vessels” which comprised
considerable amount of sand could be found in usage by the Uighurs. Surface of
such crockery is rough, and usually painted in black.
In Eastern Turkestan there are many big and small mosques, medreses, and
mausoleum. Different building materials were used, and various artistic styles
are employed in architecture. Ceilings, fretted columns, eaves, doors and
tracery gates of the buildings amaze with their exquisite decoration and
multicolor of their frescos. With adoption of Islam in the 10th
century, traditional architecture, keeping its originality, evolved in the
course of architecture of Muslim Orient.
as a genre of decoration was used broadly by the Uighurs in furniture, utensils
and toy making. Wooden furniture did not play a visible role in the interior of
Uighur as well as other Oriental peoples’ household. The Uighurs preferred
carpets, rugs and felt. Nevertheless they had a certain set of wooden furniture
from time immemorial. They are trunks, low tables, cradles, coffers and bins for
foodstuffs. Wooden utensils included dishes, bowls, bred-plates, spoons,
chopsticks, spoon and chopsticks cases.
of musical instrument occupies one of the most
important places in Uighur art wood carving. Uighur musical instruments are
notable for their diversity and lofty sound and decorative characteristics.
Among Uighur musical instruments the following are wide spread:
instruments listed above were prevalent throughout the whole Eastern Turkestan
and had only insignificant local distinctions. Most conspicuous distinctive
traits are seen in instruments of the Southern (Qashqar) and the Northern
(Ghulja) regions of the country. People call them Qashqar and Ili instruments.
and Aqsu were renowned for currying. The leather was used for making high
quality shoes, belts, and harness. Smart shoes were made of color leather: red,
green, and brown. In shoes décor masters widely used appliqué’
work, stamping, and embroidery.
belts were part and parcel of Uighur man dress. They were embellished with
figured silver plates covered with engraved, embossed and filigree decoration;
insets of semi-precious stones. Polychrome enamel and gilding were also used in
work was broadly applied to horse harness and saddles by Uighur craftsmen.
Uighur saddles have had the same prevalent shape even up to this day: narrow
pommel and wide oval rear arch. Frame of saddle was upholstered with leather and
embellished with decorative metal plates, or thoroughly polished, burnished and
covered with multicolor painting.
made of gourd are wide-spread among the Uighurs. Various forms of gourd are
converted to different dishes for water and tea; scoops, snuff-boxes, toys and
others. Surface of items is usually polished and dyed in thick solution of tea.
In Eastern Turkestan in the past there were skilful masters who produced highly
artistic works from gourd.
Mukanov, S. Steps of a giant., Alma-Ata, 1958, p.253.
Felkerzam, A. Ancient carpets of Central Asia // Old years, 1914,
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