There are some cities whose names stir the imagination. These are the places on the ancient crossroads of history that have left behind a legacy of riches simply because of where they were situated. Among these are the cities that flourished in the shadows of the commerce network of the Silk Road. Here much more was traded than the goods arriving by caravan. These cities were also enriched by the stories told by traders – stories that helped ensure their place in history. A bit of the Silk Road will make its way to the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market this summer. See www.folkartmarket.org for more.
Caravansaries were the economic centers for trade. Historical references are made to large caravans of several hundred camels loaded with goods that would leave Bukhara in the spring and slowly make their way to the next city. Cities like Bukhara, located in the Central Asian Republic of Uzbekistan, benefited not only from the exchange of such riches as silk, gold, glass, carpets, cotton, exotic fruits and animals, but also from the cultural and spiritual wealth brought by the traders. Caravans from China came loaded with porcelain, bronzes, exotic perfumes, tea and rice. They also brought ideas, philosophies and knowledge.
Taking his cues from this rich history, Uzbek jeweler Nodir Bakhshilloevich Djumaev’s work is at once luxurious and sophisticated. Borrowing techniques dating back to the eighth and ninth centuries in Bukhara, Nodir uses filigree and ornamental techniques in creating earrings, bracelets, and forehead and chest decorations. He literally weaves together wires to build jewelry into a fine latticework of embroidered gold and silver. It is an ancient jewelry craft he learned from his mother and father, a noted gold embroiderer.
Through the ages, jewelry has enjoyed a special status in Bukhara. Rare objects fit for royalty, Bukharan jewelry was replete with precious and semi-precious stones such as rich red rubies, flawless blue sapphires, carnelian, agate, jasper, coral, pearl, turquoise, opal and tourmaline. Nodir still uses this mix of stones in his jewelry.
While silver was in common use throughout the region, the use of gold was confined to the court of khans and the court of the Bukhara Emir. The work Nodir produces even now retains a certain royal significance. Included in his portfolio is the crescent-shaped, flower bud-motifed bibishak that, depending on the piece, is worn either on the forehead or over the ears. He also makes traditional head adornments, such as a temple pendant, as well as a set consisting of a large medallion augmented by small rectangular medallions, all held together by delicate chains. Certain pieces also incorporate fine enameling and colored glass.
According to Nodir, traditionally, an Uzbek girl would receive her first jewelry from her grandmother. Throughout her life she would then be connected with jewelry that had been passed down from generation to generation.
Nodir Bakhshilloevich Djumaev completed formal studies through the College of Art at the Academy of Art of Uzbekistan. He continues to work with his father and mother producing jewelry that has remained virtually unchanged throughout history.
For more about the must-see Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, go to www.folkartmarket.org.
Silk Road Jewels
Fine filigree from ancient Bukhara goes to Santa Fe