The Art History Research Institute (AHRI) is the main and only academic research institution in the system of the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan. It is a unique scientific centre that brings together experts in art history and architecture,FROM THE TREASURY OF ART HISTORY OF UZBEKISTAN Articles fine and decorative-applied art, music, theatre and cinema. The Institute has ten sections representing all areas of art studies, as well as a unique archaeological collection, record library, photo laboratory, an archive and an academic library.
From the beginning of its establishment, the Institute employed scholars who eventually became known not only in Uzbekistan, but also in many countries of the world. They had been able to capture, comprehensively study and thus preserve the national art and cultural heritage of the country. Their work is now being referred to by art historians, art critics, collectors, museum workers, artists and masters of applied art. They are G. A. Pugachenkova, L. I. Rempel, I. R. Rajabov, R. H. Taktash, D. A. Fakhretrdinova, F. M. Karomatov, M. R. Rakhmanov, M. H. Kadyrov, T. S. Vyzgo, H. N. Abdulkasymova, J. T. Teshabaev, M. T. MirzaMukhamedova, E. V. Trveladze and many others.
Nowadays the Institute is the largest centre that trains art historians in the region. It offers a graduate course; there is a special council for defending dissertations for the degree of candidate, and in 1992 a doctoral council was instituted, and since 1993 it has become possible to pursue doctoral degree. Throughout all this time, and particularly during the last ten years, dissertations for doctoral and candidate degrees have been defended by applicants not only from Uzbekistan, but also from CIS and non-CIS countries.
The years of independence opened new opportunities for Uzbekistan’s scientist for an in-depth study of the country’s artistic culture, including previously “undesirable” and thus inadequately researched problems related to the history of religions and their influence on the development of artistic processes. For instance, specific attention is given to selected aspects of architecture and music of Islamic period. There emerged an opportunity to study cult architecture, which previously was regarded as a final product of architects’ work, without studying genesis, evolution and close interconnections of some building types, associated, in one way or another, with Buddhism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, and, primarily, with Islam. For instance, a new impetus is given to the studies of honako architecture – Sufic abodes, the development of which was closely linked to the history and the transformations of the Sufi teaching itself – Ilmi at-Tasavvuf, as well as makoms, in terms of discovering their semantics in relation to the ritual Sufi practices.
Currently, scientists working at the Institute fill up these and many other lacunae in the studies of the national cultural heritage of the peoples of Uzbekistan. A number of monographs and articles were dedicated to revealing new facets of the country’s art. These works include: “Ritual Music of Central Asia”, 1994, by R. Abdullaev; “Farabi and Ibn Sino on the Theory of Musical Rhythm”, 1995, by A. Nazarov; “Production in Uzbek Drama Theatre: Development Trends and Current Issues”, 1995, by M. Tulykhojaeva; “The Two Swallows”, 1996, by D. Musaeva; “Muslim Relics of Uzbekistan”, 1995, by E. Rtveladze; and many others.
Two archaeological expeditions of the Institute carry out extensive research and publication activity. Starting as early as 1989, members of the Uzbekistan Art History Expedition (UAHE) productively cooperated in the field of science with the Japanese Soka University (Tokyo), participated in the annual joint expeditions to the Buddhist township of Dalverzintepa located in the south of Uzbekistan. The results of these studies were reflected in a major illustrated publication titled “Antiques of Southern Uzbekistan” prepared by the Institute staff together with Japanese scholars. This paper was published in Japan in 1991 in Russian, English and Japanese languages. The UAHE, led by candidate of historical sciences B. Turgunov, continued its cooperation with the aforementioned Japanese university, and archaeological excavations at Dalverzintepa resulted in the publication of new data in the series called “Materials of the Annual Uzbekistan Art History Expedition”.
The museum collection of the Institute was exhibited not only in various exhibition halls of Tashkent, but also in the cities of Japan, (1988, 2005), Germany (1999) and France (1996); each exhibition was accompanied by the publication of colourful catalogues with scientific articles written by the Institute’s scholars, namely E. Rtveladze, A. Khakimov, B. Turgunov, J. Ilyasov, etc. This can be exemplified by an exhibition catalogue “Greece-Uzbekistan: Ancient Cultural Links” (2001), and a colourful and richly illustrated catalogue of the recent exhibition “The Great Silk Road and Its Heritage” held in 2005 in four Japanese cities displaying materials of the Institute’s archaeological collection. In 2006, the UAHE, together with the Soka University, carried out a joint expedition, and the results of the studies are currently being prepared for publication.
In 1999 another major archaeological expedition was founded – the Tokharistan expedition that focused its interest on studying an ancient township of Kampyrtepa in the south of Uzbekistan. The expedition leader, Academician of the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan (ASU) E. Rtveladze, every year performs a series of excavations together with Russian archaeologists, specifically with those from the State Museum of Oriental Arts (Moscow) and the I. Bunin State University (Yelets), as well as with Japanese and French archaeologists. As of today, for the first time in archaeological practice in Central Asia, almost the entire area of the Kushan period township was excavated with subsequent conservation of exposed sections. Scientists have been able to make unique discoveries: specifically, to propose a hypothesis that the township corresponds to the known, according to Ptolemaic data, city of Oxian Alexandria founded in late 4th century B.C. by Alexander of Macedonia. In 2000 E. Rtveladze started a new series of publications – an annual title “Materials of Tokharistan Expedition: Archaeological Studies at Kampyrtepa”; the fifth and the sixth issues of the series will be published soon. Since 1996, following the initiative and under the editorship of E. Rtveladze, a collection of articles titled “Numismatics in Central Asia” is published almost annually. The seventh issue was published in 2005.
The Institute has established close cooperation with UNESCO Office in Uzbekistan. For instance, with financial support of this authoritative international organization and a Japanese Trust Fund, a complex Baisun scientific expedition started its operations in 2003 with an objective of studying folk culture of the area (the academic leadership of expedition is exercised by Doctor of Art History A. Khakimov; the expedition director is Doctor of Art History R. Abdullaev). The expedition participants, including the Institute staff members – E. Gyul, S. Alieva and I. Abdurakhmanov – also published the results of their research in an annual title “The Works of Baisun Scientific Expedition” (1st issue – 2003; 2nd – 2005, 3rd – 2006) covering relevant issues in contemporary musical folklore, applied art and other domains of traditional culture. Based on the results of the expedition studies, two monographs were published in 2006: “Baisun: The Atlas of Artistic Crafts” by A. Khakimov and E. Gyul, and “Baisun: Traditional Musical Culture” by R. Abdullaev (selected publications are available in English and Russian languages).
With UNESCO’s financial support, a series of academic papers was published, among which the largest is an illustrated three-volume title “Oriental Miniatures” (2001, 2003, 2004) under the editorship of Academician of the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan G. Pugachenkova, Academician of the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan A. Khakimov and others, featuring miniatures (with brief annotation) from the collection of the A. Biruni Institute of Oriental Studies. In recent years, fundamental studies of the Institute’s lead scholars have become basis for major collective monographs dedicated either to an anniversary of a prominent historical personality, or to a memorable date of founding one or another ancient city in Uzbekistan. For instance, in 1996, with the involvement of lead RI scholars, a collective monograph titled “Amir Temur in Global History” was published in Uzbek, Russian, English and French languages to mark the 550th anniversary of Amir Temur (authored by E. Rtveladze, A. Khakimov, P. Zakhidov, E. Ismailova, M. Kadyrov, T. Gafurbekov and others). In 2004 and 2006 the paper, with the same authorship, was republished.
Starting from 1997, following UNESCO decision and commissioned by the Cabinet of Ministers of Uzbekistan, anniversary publications were produced, the main authors of which were leading staff members of the Art History Institute. For instance, a series of anniversary publications includes the following collective monographs: “Bukhara, the Pearl of Orient” and “Khiva, the City of Thousand Domes” dedicated to the 2,500th anniversary of Bukhara and Khiva cities celebrated in 1997; “Light from the Depth of Centuries” to mark the 1,225th anniversary of Imam Al-Bukhari in 1998; “To the 800th Anniversary of Jaloliddin Manguberdi”, 1999; “Termez” dedicated to the 2,700th anniversary of Termez city celebrated in 2000; “Shakhrisabz” to mark the 2,700th anniversary of Shakhrisabz in 2001; “Karshi: Glorious Past and Great Future” for the city’s anniversary celebrated in 2006. It should be noted that in almost all aforementioned collective monographs published in three (Uzbek, English and Russian), four (plus French) or five (plus Arabic) languages the executive editor and the author of history sections was Academician E. Rtveladze, and the key sections were authored by lead AHRI scientists, Doctors of Science G. Pugachenkova, M. Yusupova, I. Azimov (architecture), E. Ismailova (miniature), A. Khakimov, K. Akilova, E. Gyul (applied art), M. Kadyrov (visual arts), T. Gafurbekov (music) and others.
Every year the AHRI hosts scientific conferences with the publication of abstracts or full presentations. Among the publications by the AHRI staff produced for the conferences one can mention the following titles: “The Art of Central Asia: Peculiarity of Historical Evolution” (1997); “Kamoliddin Bekhzad and Oriental Art” (2000); “Archaeology, History and Culture of Central Asia” (2000); “The Place of Kamoliddin Bekhzad in the History of Global Culture” (2005); “Karim Zaripov and the National Theatre” (2006); and “Art and Art History of Uzbekistan in Modern Times” (2006).
Materials of conferences organized by art historians of the Institute with the involvement of young scientists from related higher education institutes of the country were published in the two issues of “San’atshunoslik nihollari” in 1999 and 2000. Since 2003 the Institute has turned into a centre of young scientists and art historians of Uzbekistan. At the end of each year it now hosts annual academic conferences with the publication of materials produced with financial support from Kamolot Foundation. The papers include: “The Art of Uzbekistan: History and Modern Times” (2003); “The Art of Uzbekistan: Globalization and National Peculiarities” (2004); “The Art of Uzbekistan: Traditions and the Process of Transformation” (2005); and “Independent Development and Integration Process in the Modern-Day Art of Uzbekistan” (2006).
To mark the 10th anniversary of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the Institute staff prepared a number of academic and popular scientific publications. In 2001, under academic editorship of A. Khakimov, a book titled “The Art of Uzbekistan” was published, covering the art of Uzbekistan between 1991 and 2001 (authors: Sh. Askarov, A. Khakimov, E. Gyul, K. Akilova, F. Karomatli, M. Khamidova, M. Tulyakhojaeva, D. Mullajonov, etc.), as well as an information publication on theatre studies called “Akhborotnoma-2001”. In 2002 a collection of articles titled “Independence and the National Theatre” was published under the editorship of Doctor of Art History M. Kadyrov, which was dedicated to the studies of creative processes, problems and prospects of Uzbek theatre development during the period of independence.
In 1997, under the editorship of T. Gafurbekov, A. Khakimov and I. Mukhtarov, a collection of academic articles by lead Institute scholars titled “The Issues of Art Studies in Uzbekistan” was published, which set the beginning to the publications of this genre.
To mark the 70th anniversary of the Institute (1999), a collection of articles authored by the Institute staff called “The Issues of Art Studies I” was published under the editorship of O. Ibrohimov and M. Yusupova, that for the first time included a rather valuable and extensive reference material on the history of the Institute with brief bibliographic reference and contact information for each staff member of the Institute. The series was resumed in 2005, when under the academic editorship of M. Yusupova and O. Ibrohimov the second and third editions of “The Issues of Art Studies” collection were published (2005, 2006).
In 2003 a collection of articles was published under the title “Art History of Uzbekistan”, and in 2004 there was a publication of materials from a conference “Peculiarities of Traditions and Tolerance in the Art of Uzbekistan” (2005) – both under the editorship of A. Khakimov.
Worth mentioning here specifically, are the recent major popular scientific publications. For example, books by P. Zakhidov in Uzbek language with the development of Uzbek terminology in architecture: “Temur Davrining Memoriy Kakhqashoni” telling about architecture during the period of Temurids, where the author proposed some of his new hypotheses; and “Memor Olami”, which is an excellent reference publication on Islamic architecture of Central Asia. A popular scientific book by E. Rtveladze titled “The Great Silk Road” (1999) invoked major response; it tells about history and culture of civilizations along the Silk Road and their interaction, featuring quite valuable reference annex in the second part of the book. There was also a publication of a personality series dedicated to the work of famous actors (“Khalima Nosirova” and “Nabi Rakhimov” by M. Khamidova) or artists (“Life and Art of Alisher Mirzo” by A. Egamberdiev, 1999).
A number of works were published dedicated to the history