Artist Profiles


Rustam Usmanov, Damir Usmanov


South and Central Asia





Medium of Work:

Rishtan ceramic platters, bowls and vases

Year(s) Attended:

Santa Fe: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018


It is mostly the turquoise domes and radiant cobalt mosaics of ancient Timurid-era architecture that draws tourists to Uzbekistan. The extraordinary architecture of Uzbekistan could certainly be thought of as an inspiration to artisans like Rustam and Damir Usmanov, whose ceramic vessels serve utilitarian purposes, but are fantastically glazed.

Rustam and Damir Usmanov come from a family with deep roots in Rishton, Uzbekistan, located in the fertile and scenic Fergana Valley. The Usmanovs are so well-known—and so well-regarded—that there’s even a ceramics museum located in the region in honor of Rustam. In many ways, the intricate, dazzling designs glazed onto platters, bowls, teapots, and other ceramic vessels mimic the brilliantly styled mosaics and tiles which adorn the Rishtan, Uzbekistan region’s mosques and other historic buildings.

It’s no surprise that the creation of even a single one of these precious items is a highly involved, laborious process. The Usmanovs first begin by designing the shape of the item, then throwing it in clay. After it is kiln-fired, the piece is methodically painted with both ancient motifs and modern patterning; this means of art-making has remained unchanged for thousands of years, and results in timelessly appealing works of art that are as functional as they are resplendently beautiful. A secret of their beautiful turquoise shades: the ashes of a local buckthorn plant.