Tajik clay toy G. Khalifov

Tajik clay toy G. Khalifov

Khalilov. Master of the Tajik clay toy

Often, along with ceramics and terracotta sculptures depicting people and deities, animals, a horse with a rider and others were found. Many images had a magical meaning, a connection with a particular ritual. A large collection of terracotta, among which toys are found, is in the Republican Museum of the History of Culture and Art in Samarkand. They are defined by specialists as terracottas of the V-VIII centuries and are attributed to the Ephtalite-Turkic era. Fine examples of toys in the form of a horse with a rider, a bird and an incense burner, made in the form of a fantastic animal carrying a bowl for incense on its back, were found by archaeologists in Shahristan, located near Ura-Tube. They date back to the 6th-8th centuries. These sculptural images are interesting in that they represent a pre-Islamic period.

In ethnographic literature there is almost no information about the clay toy of Central Asia. The Central Asian clay toy was not going to be museums until the beginning of the 20th century. The collection of toys collected at the beginning of the century by O. Korzhinskaya is probably the only one of its kind. These toys of the beginning of the century retain in their form and manner of finishing traditional features that have evolved over the previous centuries.
Toys were made not only by potters, they were also made in the group of villages of Samsolik in Karategin, in the group of settlements of Gumbulak in Faizabad district, in the village of Ziddy of Varzob district, in the villages of Toshbulak and Tuda of Almazinsky district. The toy, as well as the dishes made there, was made impregnable, painted it with a white engobe, a simple pattern in the form of stripes or dots, or not painted at all. They were mostly whistles in the form of animals and animals with a whistle or a rattle – the latter were intended for the youngest, who could not yet play with a whistle. For children skilled workers also made miniature pottery, repeating exactly the shape of large vessels.
Clay toy from the village of Bafoi (near Ura-Tyube) attracted the attention of lovers of folk art. Small birds and penny-whistles were sold at the Ura-Tube bazaar together with other products. After the amateur collector GM Blinov became interested in toys, he found the master who made them, an unknown toy and an unknown master acquired wide popularity.
Like most folk artists, the biography of Gafor Khalilov is very simple. The son of a peasant poor peasant, from the age of ten he was sent to the training of a kinsman-potter Khidir, who had a workshop and made pottery for the bazaar and custom-made pottery, and twice a year – to Navruz and Ramazan-pleil toys. Has seen enough of Gafor, as their old master was sculpting, and remembered.
His studio Gafor never got, until twenty-five years he worked at the master. After the revolution, he worked for thirty years as a potter in the Ura-Tyube artel “Red work”, where he mostly made pots and bowls, sometimes for fun, the children molded toys according to old memory. Fame came to him already in old age. His talent suddenly opened and blossomed. And before the master sculpted toys, but did it without fuss, without much fiction. When the grown-ups, specialists and amateurs became interested in the toy, the artist’s hidden feelings aroused in the master. And he bestowed on the joy of the creator and amateurs of folk art.

Tajik clay toy G. Khalifov

Toys before baking

Masters-potters always know well the properties of clays and the places where they lie. To get a good dough, use two types of clay – yellow and white. Mix them in a certain proportion – two pieces of yellow with one part white. Before kneading white clay soaked for a day. In the dough, finely chopped wool or reed fluff is added for the bunch. Ready dough is divided into large lumps, put them in the shade and cover with rags, so it does not wither.
The Tajik clay toy is molded, sitting on the ground at a small table. The modeling process is clearly divided into three operations. The first is the making of a whistling detail of a future toy – a whistle “lulak”. The whistle is a ball with an elongated tail, in which two communicating holes are made with a special stick, thanks to them, and a whistling sound is formed. Having fashioned each such detail, the master will necessarily blow into it, whistle, check how it sounds. At the same time, he stores 15-20 whistles. This whistle is already a toy in itself. On the ball, the stick is made with eye-holes and mouth, and on the abdomen, dents and paws. Then he gets a new name “Bulbuaccia” – a nightingale.
The second operation – modeling the body of a toy and fitting a whistle into it. The clay clod is rolled into a bundle, flattened on both sides. From the formed thickenings mold pairs of front and hind legs – a trunk with four legs is formed. Above the rear pair of legs, the fingers make a groove in which a whistle is inserted, it is well adjusted and smeared with clay. He simultaneously becomes a tail, famously tucked up. Sometimes under the whistle there is a flag-tail – the tail, the end of which can suddenly turn into the head of a snake at the will of the master and entangle the body and neck of the toy.
The third operation is modeling of the head. A clump of clay is rolled into a bundle, one of its ends is flattened, the most protruding parts are first molded – horns, ears, a comb, a fan-like or umbrella crown, and so on. The thumb is deftly made by dents – hollows for the eyes, then stretched out the nose and, depending on the conceived, fashioned the mouth in the form of a funnel, in the form of a slot that is cut with the tip of a stick, or in the form of a rounded hole. An obligatory detail of almost all toys is the tongue, then round fleshy, then long, hanging over the lower lip, fangs and teeth, which together gives the figure a fierce and formidable look. From small clumps of clay, two cups for the eyes are put together, which are put into the hollows. In the cups, they stick on the ball, press them down, make a hole – and now the terrible monster is already looking at the world with wide-eyed eyes. From the bottom of the tourniquet mold the neck, the prepared head is inserted and attached to the body. Toys are well dried in the sun and burned in a special oven.

Tajik clay toy G. Khalifov

G. Khalilov. A toy. 1978

The master has his rhythm in the making of types of toys. It is difficult to persuade him to sculpt some devas or dragons, which are especially liked by fans of clay plastics. Having fashioned them for one or two pairs, the master invariably proceeds to modeling other types, in each of them, accurately picking up the details and using the usual tricks of decorating, giving each toy some special feature. The master gives names to all the toys.
The biggest difficulty in modeling toys is its two details: the whistle, on which the sound depends, and the modeling of the head. But if in two operations – in the making of a whistle and a body – the details are molded almost monotonously, then in the modeling of heads one can observe an infinite variety of forms and variants. It is here that the creator’s imagination, his ingenuity, manifests itself most. Most of the toys of Gafor Khalilov, unlike Karatag and toys from Uba, have a wide open mouth, usually with fangs and teeth, with a drooping tongue. A distinctive feature of the Ura-Tyubin toys is the planting of the head on a straight long neck in two foreshortenings – directly in relation to the body and turned sideways. Another feature is the location of the whistle. If toys from Uba are characterized by the device of the whistle from the side, then in Ura-Tubinsky it is usually placed in the tail. In Ur-Tubin toys, the whistle is sideways rarely and mainly in those cases when it is dictated by the design of the toy-in toys with a flailing tail, with a rider and others. It is characteristic that in the modern Karatag toy the whistle is often absent, especially in such as the sherry (lion), it is usually molded with a raised mighty tail – or in toys depicting a camel and a horse. There is also a whistle in the Samarkand toy. This, probably, can be explained by the loss of its basic game function. The toy becomes more and more decorative.
For the manufacture and finishing of toys are used two wooden, well polished sticks – one thicker, round in section, the second is thin, flat, with a sharp edge; the sticks have one end pointed, another stump. These sticks and all the operations are performed when forming toys and when decorating them. After the toy is fashioned, it is decorated twice – with chopsticks, cuts, holes, strokes – all this is done on raw clay. Then the toy is dried and fired. After roasting, it is dipped in a solution of lime or white clay gilbut, holding the whistle, which is not covered with paint, allowed to dry and painted. Toys, painted in a solution of light clay, have a noble color, they are often left now undigested. They are especially noticeable on them, relief decoration.
Painting a toy, as a rule, with two or three colors (blue, red, green) homemade brushes (tied to a stick with a bundle of wool). In the old days for the painting used a natural mineral paint brick-red color. The toy is covered with transverse red and blue stripes. Eyes, mouth, mouth, and sometimes, for greater effect, the whole head, paint all in one color.

Tajik clay toy G. Khalifov

G. Khalilov. Dragons. Toys. 1970s.

Initially the Deva were the deities of the Indo-Iranian peoples. Once they were worshiped, their images were placed in temples, dwellings. But with the advent of Zoroastrianism, ancient religious ideas and the associated pantheon of the gods undergo changes. Dev, from a good deity who protects a person, has turned into folk beliefs into an evil and cruel being. Folk imagination gives him supernatural qualities. This man-like creature with a huge head, crowned with horns, with fiery eyes, a huge nose in the form of a carnation (a large copper pipe), with a mouth like a cave, with a trunk covered with long hair. His appearance is awesome and ferocious. Of all the evil spirits of the devas, the monster is the most formidable and powerful. Images of devas, scenes of single combat with them are known from Persian miniatures, illustrating the poem “Shah-name”. These are evil spirits with a terrible grin on diabolical muzzles, hiding behind rocks, trapping their prey, foretelling death, death. Images of the Devas, known by miniatures, and the devas of Gafor Khalilov have much in common. Ura-Tyubinskaya toy – the fruit of folk fantasy, and it could not incarnate the traditions of antiquity.
No less mysterious and interesting phenomenon in the toy is the image of a snake. Most often she braids the body of the deva, looking out from behind his head, sometimes two, sometimes the horns, tongue, and tail of the deva end in the head of the snake. The masters themselves explain that snakes are the power and might of the devas and dragons, they are so powerful that they were obeyed by snakes. Snakes, in addition, they are protected. EM Peschereva sees in the Ura-Tyube tri-head dragon with the biceps serpent knitting his neck a reflection of the idea widespread in Central Asia about the vital principle and fertility.
A special group consists of toys in the form of birds. They are made with large beaks, with their wings raised, as if ready to fly, on one round pedestal in the base.
The toys of Gafor Khalilov are traditional, although there are differences from the ancient models known to us. Obviously, such classic compositions as dragons, devas, and the whole fantastic animal and bird group should be classed as the most traditional ones. But the master is a great science fiction writer, and probably only they were invented and created complex and sometimes overloaded compositions of devas with a monkey on horns or with a frog in open jaws. In a traditional toy there is, undoubtedly, many more mysterious and unexplored.
In Tajikistan, to date, Gafor Khalilov is essentially the only master who is more or less regularly engaged in this industry. Unfortunately, in the Leninabad branch of the Art Fund, the matter is not very well-posed: the master often does not have fuel, or the machine does not come for several months to take his products. The master sometimes has to make a living by no means a toy, but by making coarse and laborious tanuras – baking ovens. He has no disciples. Although his business is well known and his son Gado Gaforov is making good toys. In Begovat (Uzbek SSR) Khalilov’s nephew lives young gifted master Hamid Karimov. His father was a potter and also made a toy. Hamid Karimov’s toys are distinguished by primitiveness and some kind of naivety. The master has a marked desire for sculpture. It is a young and in our view a promising master. It is necessary to pay more attention to young masters, to create such conditions that would contribute to the continuity of folk art.

Tajik clay toy G. Khalifov