National Arts and Crafts of Uzbekistan
Varnished Miniature

The art of varnished painting is one of the most wonderful inventions of the Uzbek people. According to sources, caskets with varnished painting were made in Bukhara in the 15th century. But currently we don't have samples of these varnished paintings, which used to be made on the papier-mache articles of that time. Much of this technology has been forgotten.

In the 1970s a number of Uzbek artists and craftsmen accepted the challenge of reviving this amazing fine art. They set up a studio, headed by the famous Uzbek artist, Chingiz Akhmarov.

The artists discovered that the technology of Oriental painting on papier-mache articles is amazingly similar to the art of varnished painting of the famous Russian art centers Fedoskino, Paleh, Mstera, and Kholui. The techniques of tempera painting used by Russian miniaturists, who inherited the skills of the icon painters, in many aspects were the same as those practiced by the medieval miniaturists of the Orient. Familiarizing themselves with the narrative paintings of Paleh prompted Uzbek artists to turn to the classical examples of Middle East miniature, which contributed to the beginning of the new art form of varnished miniature.

Medieval miniaturists very often used fixed patterns and copied elements of painting by outstanding artists, so as to later create original compositions.

Modern young artists follow the same principles. The characters of the poems "Shah-Namie" by Firdousiy, "Khamsa" by Nizamiy, "Yusuf and Zuleikha" by Jamiy, "Khamsa" by Navoiy, and other literary sources are being resurrected in modern varnished paintings, charming with their lyricism and dazzling beauty.

Of the modern Uzbek fine arts, the miniature is not just an art form but rather a capacious artistic and stylistic school, including the varnished miniature, the wall miniature, and the miniature on fabric and leather. Today, the miniature is flourishing: the number of miniaturists is increasing, as is their artistic level.

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