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UZBEKISTAN: Rishton Ceramics

30th Jan 2018

The small city of Rishton is in the Ferghana Region of Uzbekistan located east of Tashkent, halfway between Kokand and Ferghana. Rishton is one of the most famous and oldest centers of ceramics in Uzbekistan. Legend claims that the art is over 800 years old, passed down from generation to generation. A fine quality reddish-yellow clay deposit 1-1.5 meters deep and 0.5-1.5 meters thick underlies almost the whole Rishton area. The clay can be used without refinement or addition of other types of clay from other regions. Besides clay, the potters of Rishton extracted various dyes, quatz sand, and fire clay from the surrounding the mountains.  

The history of producing ceramics here goes back to the seventh century. In the late 19th – early 20th centuries, almost all the population of Rishton were potters. Its clay is suitable for making the whole variety of ceramic goods and the repertoire of ornamental patterns in the Rishton ceramics is one of the richest. Today, over 2000 craftsmen use both traditional techniques and modern machinery to produce over 5 million items per year. The traditional design has a blue-green glaze called “iskor”. It is produced by hand from natural minerals pigments and ash mountain plants. Meet the Master of Rishton ceramis on our Uzbekistan Silk Road Tour.

In the 1960s, this technique had almost died out, but has now recovered, thanks to the efforts of the artisans themselves. Today they have diversified their glazes to all possible colours – responding to market demands as they say. While these new age colours and ceramics are pretty, they lack the depth and pure lure of the classic cobalt blue, lapis turquoise classics that are found only in their private museums or made to special orders.

Of the thousand local potters who make a living from the legendary local loam, only a handful are considered true masters who still use traditional techniques. Among them is Rustam Usmanov, and  runs a ceramics museum out of his home. Usmanov family gives free tours of the workshop, its a fascinating insight into their world.

Rishton called the cradle the art of ceramics in Fergana valley. Modern creations Rishtan masters adorn the museum exhibitions in France, Italy, Hungary, Belgium and Russia. Many collectors want to become the owner of a blue ceramic sample, as each piece is unique in shape and ornamentation.