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Varzob

Updated on February 12, 2018

 

 

                                                       Antiquity Reborn

 

The edges of the mountain tops have merged with the blue sky; a swift brook is babbling somewhere nearby. Suddenly, a wooden idol - the sculpture of a mountain spirit - seems to rise up out of the ground among the lush green grasses and gaily-colored flowers. It fits majestically into a landscape of the Varzob Gorge in Tajikistan. The idol is one the best works by Ubaidullo Rajabov, a well-known sculptor. His artistic path was rather complicated: initially he worked in marble, carving fantastic animals and heroes from Oriental epos out this noble material. He often depicted them schematically, in an abstract manner. Thus in Rajabov’s very first works a grotesque style was taking shape, based on Sogda, the ancient national art that has absorbed the tradition of Oriental culture. The Tajik sculptor has taken part in number of national and republican exhibitions. Having graduated from art school with a diploma a design, he occasionally tests his strength in this field. But stone remains his favorite material. Rajabov began working in wood later. His wooden works can be seen on many playgrounds in Dushanbe (capital of Tajikistan)

Rajabov’s smaller sculptures are also famous. Alongside well-known materials he employs shamot - a mixture of glue, cement, and sand. Some of his new works which have been acclaimed at many exhibitions, such as “The elements,” “Happiness,” “A Cotton-Grover, “” Folk games ,” are made out of this material. The sculpture “The Elements” is a grotesque male figure, made up of numerous broken lines, deep holes, huge, deliberately disproportionate limbs - all of this is meant to express the horror of the natural disasters - floods, earthquakes, mud flows - so common in this mountain region, war?!

“Happiness” is the exact opposite of “The Elements” : it depicts an old man, his hands raised toward the sky in gratitude for his happiness. He is surrounded by children, a symbol of happiness, who seem to be trying to grab hold his grey beard. The composition expresses an idea, common in the Orient: a family with many children is always happy. Smooth, downward flowing lines seem to connect the old man and his grandchildren, asserting the elementary of life.

Rajabov’s “Cotton-Grower” is also symbolic. Cotton is the main wealth of the Tajik republic, so it is not for nothing that the sculptor placed the cotton-grower’s hands in the center, schematically depicting a cotton bush. These hands hold the “white wonder” tenderly and carefully.

And then, another figure - shaitan, the Oriental evil spirit, sitting on the ground cross-legged, in the Eastern manner. He holds a piece of fruit in his hands, has an enormous nose, large eyes, long arms and long fingers. But the shaitan’s broad smile is so friendly that all those who look at him begin to feel friendly toward him too. The whole image, his unusual shape is obviously intended to remind of the view of the “snow man” who excites the mind and senses of people now days.


Sculpture is a very ancient art. Bits and pieces of figurines made during the Neolithic Era are found from time to time in Central Asia. The deities were first mostly female incarnations with disproportionate bodies who personified fertility and motherhood. While following ancient traditions, the young artist finds a multitude of ways to express his ideas in his figurines, using new materials while at the same time creating monumental sculptures out of wood.

 

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