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      What is special about Rishtan ceramics?

      Rishtan is a town located in the south-western portion of the Fergana Valley in Uzbekistan that has been the center of ceramics in all of Central Asia since ancient times. It’s a small, unassuming town of 35,000 people, yet it has a proud history, especially when it comes to pottery. According to some archeological findings, ceramics and pottery have been produced in the area for more than 2,000 years. However, it was the Silk Road trade that really put Rishtan on the map, as it brought Chinese ceramics technology into the region which, combined with the fact that the town sits on top of very high quality clay that needs no refinement, as well as having been positioned on one of the main trading routes, Rishtan and its surroundings became a magnet for the ceramics trade that continues to this day.

      One of master potter Rustam Usmanov’s signature pieces.

      What is unique about Rishtan ceramics?

      Rishtan ceramics incorporates the complex geometric designs that Islamic art is famous for with a local style that is easy to distinguish. First of all, the ceramics produced here are 100% natural and only make use of locally found materials, which means that certain colors dominate, namely blue and all of its shades and a to a smaller extent green and turquoise. This is mainly due to the so-called “ishkor” glaze, which is produced by a combination of the ash of a locally endemic mountain plant and minerals from the surrounding area. The glaze produces a special blue hue that is the trademark of Rishtan pottery. The motifs, as with most traditional art in Uzbekistan, is Persianate. In other words, you may find some similarity with Persian ceramics in certain elements, but nonetheless, it is a local, Central Asian, more specifically Ferghana Valley version of the Persianate style.

      One of master potter Rustam Usmanov’s signature pieces

      What kind of ceramics do they produce in Rishtan?

      In Uzbekistan, ceramics and pottery is not just an artform, it is a utility. People buy these beautiful plates not only to decorate their homes, as many in Western countries do, but to actually use them for their intended purpose, which is to hold food and drink. Besides the large plates, called “lagan”, used mainly for serving plov, one can find “piyalas”, or tea cups, tea pots, bowls, vases, jugs, individual pieces or sets. Tiles are also produced in all sizes.

      One of master potter Rustam Usmanov’s signature pieces
      Piyalas, aka Central Asian tea cups

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