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Two exhibitions from Uzbekistan will become the main museum attraction of Paris for the next six months

During the official visit by President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Miziyoyev, to France, the heads from the two countries opened two major exhibitions, ‘The Splendours in Uzbekistan’s Oases’ and ‘The Crossroads of Caravan Routes’. The Louvre’s Crossroads of Caravan Routes and the Road to Samarkand. Ravshan Mamatov is Minister-Counselor at Embassy of Uzbekistan, Kingdom of Belgium.

Both exhibits focus on Uzbekistan’s culture and history. The Louvre exhibition covers the 5th-6th century BC, the reign of Timurids, while the Arab World Institute exhibits the 19th-mid-20th centuries. Also, the Arab World Institute displays paintings from the collection Uzbekistan’s state museums, including those of the Turkestan avantgarde.


The beginning

In October 2018, the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Miziyoyev visited France for the first official visit. A visit to the Louvre was part of the cultural program. The idea to hold a large-scale exhibit in the museum to showcase the rich cultural and historical heritage of Uzbekistan was already being considered.

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This was preceded by many very important events.

In 2009, Rocco Rante, an archaeologist and researcher, led an archaeological mission to Bukhara with the help of the Samarkand Archeology institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Uzbekistan. It was led by Jamal Mirzaakhmedov from the Uzbek, and then by Abdisabur Raimkulov. Rante invited Henri Loyrette (the former Director of Louvre) to Uzbekistan in 2011. After reviewing the historical material available, Rante decides to begin planning an exhibition. This was completed in 2017.

Later, in the Samarkand region of Uzbekistan a unique Zoroastrian-carved panel was found during additional excavations. These were also conducted jointly with French experts. This find is a major one.


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The excavation site is believed to have been the location of the country palace of pre-Islamic rulers (until around the 8th century). Scientists discovered a front room in the citadel. It was mostly occupied by a three-tiered podium where the ruler sat. The panel was only visible on the walls of this hall.

These were not the only unique discoveries. It was clear that Uzbekistan could offer the world something extremely valuable in terms of both historical and cultural aspects.

The Art and Culture Development Foundation of Uzbekistan represented by Gayane Umerova was the Executive Director. Preparatory work began under the direction of Saida Mirziyoyeva, Deputy Chairperson of the Council of the Foundation.

The Louvre exhibition was originally scheduled to take place in 2020-2021. However, COVID-19 interrupted these plans and the event had to be moved to 2022. It became apparent that it was logical to not only present an excursion into Uzbekistan’s ancient history, concluding with the 15th Century, but also to discuss the subsequent periods, making this work complete and comprehensive. It was decided that two exhibitions would be held: one at Louvre and the other at the Arab World Institute.


Four-year journey

To prepare the exhibitions, a special commission was established. The Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan led the special commission, which also included the Director of the Institute of Art History of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Uzbekistan as project consultant Shokir Pidayev and the Director of the Center for Islamic Civilization Shoazim Minerov. It also included ministers, scientists, archaeologists, and directors and curators of museums where it was to borrow exhibits.

Major restoration work began. Since 2018, more than 70 items were restored specifically for the exhibition. Since 2018, more than 70 items were restored especially for the exhibition.

The restoration and conservation the Kattalangar Quran Pages of the 8th Century was particularly difficult and fascinating. This Quran is a significant religious text for Muslims and Islam. It is also a part of the cultural and historic heritage of all humanity.

The restoration process took three years and was possible thanks to the personal support provided by Saida Mirziyoyeva who held the position as Deputy Director at the Agency for Information and Mass Communications. It was originally planned to restore 2 pages. However, Saida Shavkatovna insisted on restoring the entire 13 pages.

This unique document was restored by the National Library of Uzbekistan (named after Alisher Navoi), the Art and Culture Development Foundation under the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Muslim Board of Uzbekistan. The restoration was done by Aurelia Streri and Axel Delau, who are both members of the Louvre Museum Axel Delau.

“The Splendours in Uzbekistan’s Oases. The Crossroads of Caravan Routes

The exhibition “The Splendours in Uzbekistan”‘s Oases. The exhibition ‘At the Crossroads of Caravan Routes’ covers the period between the 5th-6th century BC and the era of Timurids. It tells about the history of Uzbekistan’s Great Silk Road which ran through the southern portion of Uzbekistan. It includes wall paintings, wall paintings, carved details from palaces, art and crafts, as well as objects of monumental and other art. It includes 169 museum exhibits including 138 from 16 Uzbek museums and 31 from world-renowned museums. They include the Louvre Museum and National Library of France. The British Museum and British Library. The Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The Cabinet of Medals in Paris. The Guimet Museum and Languages and Civilizations University Library. There is also the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon.

Yannick Lintz, Rocco Rante are the curators.

Saida Mirziyoyeva pointed out that Uzbekistan was always a center for cultural exchange and commerce. The Great Silk Road is, in a way, the first global economic project. The exhibition at the Louvre, covering approximately two thousand years, will offer a multifaceted view on the culture of different civilizations that have existed on the territory of Uzbekistan today, as well as a global cultural context of Uzbekistan’s unique heritage, which is one our primary tasks.

Rocco Rante, in turn, noted that the exhibition had two main purposes. It is the first to showcase Central Asia’s culture and civilization in Europe. Paris is the ideal place to do this because it has the Louvre, one of the most renowned museums in the world.

The second goal of the project is to highlight the historical connections between Central Asia, Europe and Asia. These two regions share many historical moments.

The exhibition also serves an educational purpose for European and French society to better understand Central Asia. Its culture is a key part of human civilization, and it is rich in historical figures.

Rante also pointed out that the exhibition “The Slendours in Uzbekistan’s Oases” was very special. Over the next 30-40 year, the Louvre’s “At the Crossroads of Caravan Routes” exhibition will be unique.

Apart from the Katta Langar Quran there are also unique exhibits such as a charred wood panel from Kafir-Kala, a Buddha “Garland-bearer”, a statue Buddha (“Garland-bearer”) (1st Century BC – 1st Century AD), the head a Kushan prince (1st-2nd centuries), and the famous wall painting from the 7th century depicting a hunting scene. Also found in Varakhsha, Bukhara region is a copy of Marco Polo’s wanderings in Asia.

A portion of the exposition will also be displayed for the first-time, due to the fact that there have been many archaeological discoveries and significant restoration work over the last three years.

“The Road to Samarkand.” Miracles of Silk & Gold

This exhibition features more than 300 exhibits taken from 9 museums of Uzbekistan. It also includes objects of applied arts, which are an important part of Uzbek identity.

You can see samples of textiles from different countries, including costumes, hats, jewelry, and jewels of the 19th-mid-20th centuries.

The exhibition also features 23 paintings, including some works by the Turkestan avantgarde. These are from the State Museum of Arts of the Republic of Karakalpakstan. Turkestan was a popular destination for Russian avant-garde artists between 1917 and 1932. Avant-garde artists searching for “local color” discovered Central Asia when Matisse was exploring Morocco.

A tobelik is a traditional headdress worn by Karakalpak women in the 17th-18th century. It’s one of the most fascinating exhibits. Tobelik is a cylindrical-shaped piece made from silver plates and coral with turquoise inserts. It is thought that the Tobelik was used as an extra decoration, a type of crown, and worn on a saukele, a headdress for weddings.

Here are the Kimesheks. This is also the national headdress for women. Kimeshek covers the entire head while leaving the face open. It looks almost like a hood. Married women wore specific colors of kimesheks to emphasize their status.

Visitors will undoubtedly be drawn to arebeks, which are small nose rings. These were made from gold and embellished with small turquoise, coral and spiral curls. Young Karakalpak women wore arebeks on the right side of their noses. These decorations can only be found in Uzbekistan. They can be compared to modern piercing if you make parallels.

Paintings by Victor Ufimtsev and Ural Tansikbayev are among the selections. Alexander Volkov, Alexei Isupov, and other artists are represented. Although each painting is written in a different style, they all share a common theme: the East and its colors. The viewer will immediately be able to see, for instance, Nikolai Karakhan’s “Teahouse Near the House Under the Elms” picture. It will also help them understand their lifestyle and the environment.

Victor Ufimtsev’s “Oriental Motif” painting is very interesting. The artist is a Siberian native who, after becoming more familiar with Central Asia, began to master the traditional art Islam. This is a modernist stylization of an Islamic miniature that reproduces the traditional banquet scene. Two women are pictured at rest while a man moves towards them with a container. The Western viewer will, if they look at the canvas, be able to see how high East women have always had respect.

It is important to note that the whole collection, which will be presented by the Savitsky museum, is intended to show all of the originality, diversity and charm of Uzbekistani culture in general. It is symbolic that the collection will be displayed at the Arab World Institute in London, the capital of Europe. This is yet another example of how the East and West can coexist harmoniously and benefit each other.

The exhibition’s curator, Yaffa Assouline Publishing, a French publishing house, was aided greatly by Laziz Hamani, a photographer, and Yaffa Assouline. They traveled for three years across the region in search of materials and collected them to create publications about Uzbekistan. The exhibition “The Road To Samarkand.” Miracles of Silk and Gold was a living example of these books.

The majority of the exhibits at the exhibition were never taken from Uzbekistan. Even those who are familiar with chapans, suzani and other works in Uzbekistan’s museums will be able to see them in a different light and perspective. This is a unique experience.

The exhibition also features a valuable feature: all Uzbekistan regions are represented at once, with their differences, schools and manufacturing techniques.

Gayane Umerova explained that the partnership with the Arab World Institute allows us to better understand the cultural context in Uzbekistan and to highlight the richness and significance of its national heritage. The Culture Foundation is very proud of the exhibition. One of its main missions is to increase awareness about Uzbekistan’s history and cultural heritage on a global level. The exhibition is expected to be of interest for a broad range of people who love art, handicraft, and the history of Uzbekistan. This project, which was jointly created with the Arab World Institute will undoubtedly help to improve mutual understanding and cooperation.

The opening ceremony of the exhibition featured the presentation of Raimondo Rebeck’s ballet performance “Lazgi-Dance of Soul and Love”, by German choreographer Raimondo. The Khorezmian Lazgi is over 3000 years old. It is on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of UNESCO.


Last note

The Silk Road covers a vast area that contains the remains and treasures of many civilizations and ethnic groups from a variety of cultures. This area is the intersection of many trade routes, exchanges between East and West and nomadic or sedentary lifestyles, and the synthesis of cultures from various civilizations, such as Indian, Turkic Turkic, Chinese Turkic, Indian, Arab Muslim and Mongolian.

Millions of people around the world will be able to view the Uzbekistan exhibitions in Paris, which will allow them to experience this rich history.

Experts think that such exhibitions are very successful because people and countries can quickly become familiar with each other through cooperation in a particular culture. France receives 60 million tourists each year. Over 10 million people visit Paris’ Louvre each year. Uzbekistan’s presence at this large-scale exhibition will help to make it more easily recognizable and increase interest in its culture, history, and heritage. This will be a huge advertisement for tourism development. Mutual communication and exhibitions are great ways to build trust. Trust opens up other areas of cooperation.

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