Ceramics from Rishtan in Central Asia.

If you are ever in the city of Rishtan and you ask a citizen what he does, he will most likely answer that he is a craftsman producing ceramics. If it turned out that he did not, he must have friends among his friends who do it. Ceramic products are available almost everywhere and it is impossible to pass by them indifferently.

At the time when the city was founded, and the first records mention the 5th century BC, it was, in a way, condemned to pottery. The name of the city is derived from the ancient Sogdish word „Rush” („Rush”, „Rushi”) which literally means „red earth”. For centuries, exactly the red-tinted clay has been mined from which the best and most beautiful ceramics in Central Asia are made.

The age of this tradition has been documented by archaeological works that have revealed not only the remains of buildings, but also kilns for firing ceramics, supplies of iron, copper and glass, and many ceramic objects. A system of moisturizing and sewerage channels lined with ceramics from the 9th-12th centuries was also found.

Over the centuries, many adjacent ceramic centers have almost completely stopped making objects from clay. Only the masters of Rishtan developed without losing the school-specific features of creating, compiling symbols and colors.

The masters of ceramics from Rishtan, known as Kuzagars, consider themselves descendants of pottery makers and guardians of ancient traditions. Their imagination, based on observations of nature and the diversity of the surrounding world, as well as the ability to freely use the brush, make it a work of art. Today, like hundreds of years ago, ceramics are painted by hand. The individuality of the masters is manifested in unique painting while maintaining strict folk traditions.


In the production of ceramics, the most important are special patterns, a specific color of paints and unique glaze. This enamel is called ishkor. It is made of special herbs that are harvested in the spring at the foot of the mountains and then burned in furnaces. The ash obtained in this way is burned several times and ground into a fine meal. This flour is combined with various metal oxides and then it is used to paint ceramics. The paint hardens during the final firing to form a shiny, radiant film.

At the Paris exhibition in 1900, Rishtan ceramics were recognized as being as good as the best European majolica.

pracownia ceramiczna mistrzów z Rishtanu


they attach great importance to patterns that have a symbolic meaning for them. This is especially noticeable on large plates called ljagans. A dot is usually placed in its center, which symbolizes the birth of a human being. Patterns, somehow emerging from the inside, tell about the next stages of life until death. This, however, does not appear to be a bad thing, as it is believed that the continuation of life occurs through children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Often the ljagans have arc-shaped motifs. This style is called mehroba and it comes from Iran. In addition to the traditional pattern, birds, fish, almonds, pomegranates, knives and jugs are common motifs. Each of them has a symbolic meaning and so: birds are peace and freedom, fish are virtue and wealth, almonds are happiness and wealth, pomegranates are prosperity, abundance and fertility, knives are a talisman protecting against evil, and jugs are a symbol of hospitality.

The dominant colors in the Rishtan masters are ultramarine, turquoise, white, black and brown.

Rishtan pottery is said to have another important quality – a positive aura. It results from the fact that during its formation the master transfers his strength and energy. Additionally, it is strengthened by sung songs and prayers. All this has a positive effect on human health, protecting it, above all, from evil.

An important feature of Rishtan pottery dishes is the sound that comes out when you snap the plate. No other ceramics makes such a sound that is close to high-quality porcelain.

Currently, there are eighty craft workshops in Rishtana dealing with the production of ceramics. They are often carried out in the eighth or ninth generation. Each workshop employs from a few to a dozen people, most often family and students.

The ceramics we present were made by nearly thirty masters for several months. Due to the fact that the products are made by hand, they may slightly differ, but the colors and style have been retained.