Carved and painted wood

Decorative and applied art of Uzbekistan


Uzbek Handicrafts: Wood Carving and PaintingIn every traditional Uzbek house you can find at least one wooden item, a large door or a tiniest child’s amulet, which is decorated with artistic carving. Since ancient times carving used to adorn columns, shutters, gates, doors, ceiling beams and a wide range of other household articles, such as tables and stools, chests, cupboards, beds and cradles, book rests, inkstands and combs.

To this day artisans use 3 basic wood cutting methods, each characterised by very specific motifs and compositions, effects and techniques.

  • Bagdadi derives from the name for an ancient type of framed door. This style is relatively simple but quite elegant and is based on geometric patterns. It is hard to find an item where the bagdadi style is used alone. In most cases this technique is utilised to decorate door panels or fringe tables and chests. 

Uzbek Handicrafts: Wood Carving and Painting

  • Pargori derives from the word pargor meaning a pair of compasses, because this was the main tool a master used to make a geometric grid. Initially, the area is divided into circles, squares and triangles, which serve a base for a very fine and gracious ornament.
  • Islimi is the most complex of the mentioned techniques, which is based on elegant plant ornamental patterns consisting of combinations of intertwining stems and spirals. Only highly experienced artisans can master this technique. The ornament has a relief background. This style is comparable with 3D technologies, where ornamentation does not lie on one plain. Highly complex variations of floral patterns often come in combination with the other two styles. An ornament can be accomplished on several plains, with every next layer forming a background for the previous one.

Historically, Kokand, Tashkent and Khiva have been the main wood carving centres in Uzbekistan: each of these cities boasts an original style and artistic school.

Traditionally, trees with the most beautiful wood are used for carving in Uzbekistan, which becomes even more splendid when covered with patterns. Best for this purpose are some local types of trees, such as plane, walnut, elm, juniper, poplar, mulberry and apricot.

Artistic wood painting largely accompanied the carving. Painting was used to decorate ceilings, columns, tables, stools, screens, cupboards, window frames and caskets.

Uzbek Handicrafts: Wood Carving and PaintingOne of the functions of painting on ceilings and columns was to make the structures visually lighter. The very fine ornamental patterns of running twigs and delicate flowers intertwined with plain geometric figures, which seemed to soar in the air, made everything look airy and weightless. Wood painting is also used throughout to decorate musical instruments

Formerly, Uzbek artisans used only natural pigments, which they produced themselves following traditional recipes.  

One of the popular types of wood decoration in Uzbekistan is lacquered miniature. A full poem may unfold sometimes on a small casket - a love story, the beauties of a homeland, ancient traditions. Lacquered miniatures may adorn all types of caskets and pencil boxes, tables, chess and backgammon boards and even the backs of books.

This refined type of traditional Uzbek art has been highly popular at all time. There is hardly anyone who can resist the temptation to buy a small painted souvenir, since every item, together with the love and warmth of its creator, contains and a portion of the century-old Uzbek culture.


Uzbek Handicrafts: Wood Carving and Painting Uzbek Handicrafts: Wood Carving and Painting Uzbek Handicrafts: Wood Carving and Painting Uzbek Handicrafts: Wood Carving and Painting

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