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Forming, painting, glazing and firing: every ceramic workshop in Uzbekistan has its own special way of doing things. For centuries the techniques and knowledge were handed down from generation to generation, but then the Soviets arrived and put an end to the craft. With the 1920s invasion many craft enterprises disappeared in Uzbekistan. As a result of collectivization there was no longer a place in society for small family businesses and no market for the goods. Ceramics, which for millennia had been a symbol of prosperity and wealth and used as dowry for brides at their weddings, all but disappeared. Luxury goods were undesirable in the new Soviet republic.

Over the decades, the construction of the Trans-Siberian railroad also brought in new, much cheaper everyday objects that satisfied people's needs. Today industrially-manufactured mottled blue plates can be seen on people’s tables almost everywhere in the country. During 74 years of Soviet rule, this ceramic craft almost disappeared from everyday culture. It’s only in recent years that an awareness of the old making traditions is returning.

Text: Karin Pollack
Photo(s): Pauline Thurn und Taxis