Central Asian Art by Vladimir Lukonin and Anatoli Ivanov

By Vladimir Lukonin and Anatoli Ivanov

The stern prohibition at the illustration of the human shape has channeled inventive construction into structure and architectural ornament. This publication is a mystical travel via primary Asia - Khirgizia, Tadjikistan, Turkmenia, and Uzbekistan - a cradle of old civilisations and a repository of the Oriental arts encouraged via Buddhism and Islam. There are remarkable, full-colour photos of the deserted towns of Mervand Urgench, Khiva, the capital of the Kharezm, with its mausoleum of Sheikh Seid Allahuddin, and the Golden highway to Samarkand , the Blue urban, a middle of civilisation for 2,500 years.

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The statues and reliefs at Air-tam and Stary Termez follow the Buddhist canons, but at the same time keep the stamp of the local school of sculpture. The high-relief in white stone of the Fayaz-tepe monastery at Termez, represents Buddha seated in the shade of a tree surrounded by monks who look at him with a very canonical humility. The buildings of the Air-tam monastery are also decorated with sculptures in white stone. Excavations brought to light fragments of a great statue of Buddha and more recently a monumental block with an inscription in Bactrian-Kushan where Huvishka, king of the Kushan, Shodiya, the founder of the monastery, and the master Mehrzad, probably a sculptor, are mentioned.

Still faithful in many points of the process of composition to the previous epochs, architects find new solutions for urban construction. Sometimes two monumental edifices were raised face to face such as the Kalyan Mosque and the Arab-Ata Madrasah, the Madori-khan and Abdullahkhan Madrasahs, the Ulugh Beg and Abdul Aziz Madrasahs at Bukhara. Sometimes the space is closed by three different edifices as is the case for the Registan of Samarkand bordered on three of its sides by madrasahs or the Labi-Hauz Ensemble at Bukhara around a square with a basin in the middle.

47) 45 46 48 All the walls are covered in azure, turquoise, and gold mosaics. The edifices of the 14th and 15th century are dominated by polychrome decoration in glazed bricks and baked clay. The same process is used for the interior decorations and sometimes the polychrome paintings are enriched with gold. Ornamental sculpture on wood or stone also became more important during this epoch. There were also new tendencies in the ornamentation; plant motifs predominate rather than geometrical ones.

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