Seeking Divine Harmony: Uzbek Artisans and Their Spaces

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Abstract

Artisans in the heart of Asia have for centuries been searching for a divine harmony. Despite extensive Soviet purges and the state monopoly in manufacturing, Uzbekistan today still remains home to the most fascinating artisanal traditions in Central Asia. For more than a millennium great masters and their disciples expressed their virtuosity in weaving silk, shaping metals, carving wood, and turning mud into pottery. Their enterprise exemplifies harmony, beauty and affluence. The most fascinating region rich with such traditions is the Fergana Valley where, dotted along a stretch of the ancient Silk Road, numerous small towns are specialized in particular crafts. It is there, within walled courtyards, where artisans’ skills are maintained. The social fabric of family and community, esthetics and production reside in homes. These spaces transfigure the spirituality of artisanal traditions into marketable goods alongside mundane domestic chores. In the process they challenge the intrusions of the state and market in an age-old effort to reconcile divine harmony and materialism.
Original languageEnglish
TypeArtisans of Central Asia
PublisherElliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University and Barcelona Centre for International Affairs
Number of pages9
Place of PublicationWashington DC
EditionUzbekistan Initiative Papers
VolumeVol.9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2014

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