Critical Source of Cultural Heritage
The Second International Congress “Cultural Heritage of Uzbekistan: the Way to Dialogue Among Peoples and Countries” opened in St. Petersburg on June 6.
It is organized by the National Association of Electronic Media of Uzbekistan (NAEMM) within the framework of the international multimedia project “Cultural Heritage of Uzbekistan in the World’s Collections”. Over 200 scientists, experts, diplomats, representatives of public, social and international organizations, mass media from more than 30 nations of the world take part in the congress. Contributors to the forum are the leaders and curators of the major museums and academic institutions from Uzbekistan, Austria, Great Britain, Germany, Iran, Russia, Poland, France, Turkey, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Japan and other countries, representatives of UNESCO, ISESCO, IRSICA, ICOMOS, prominent scientists, including academicians, professors, doctors of sciences.
The main event of the congress took place at the Gorky House of Scientists of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The general session is complemented by seven sectional academic discussions on archeology, history, Eastern manuscripts, numismatics, textiles, arts and crafts and paintings from Uzbekistan.
A unique event on the eve of this forum was the opening of six simultaneous exhibitions of Uzbek heritage in the leading museums of St. Petersburg – the Russian Ethnographic Museum, the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Kunstkamera, the Russian National Library, the State Museum of the History of Religion, the Institute of Russian Literature (Pushkin House).
The congress includes presentation of the next five volumes of books and albums of the series “Cultural Heritage of Uzbekistan in the World’s Collections” as follows: “The Collection of German Museums” (Berlin, Bamberg, Dresden, Hamburg, Leipzig, Lübeck, Stuttgart, Herrnhut); “The Collection of the State Museum of the History of Religion” (St. Petersburg); “The Collection of the State Museum of Arts of Uzbekistan” (Tashkent); “Carpet Weaving of Uzbekistan: A Tradition Preserved Through Centuries” (Uzbekistan, Russia, Spain, USA, Canada); “The Art of Maverannahr in the State Hermitage. Part II” (St. Petersburg).
Participants are to enjoy also the presentation of new documentary films dedicated to the preservation of the historical legacy of Uzbekistan in the museums of Russia, Great Britain, India, France, Germany, Japan, and the Czech Republic.
In addition, the forum participants will be able to get acquainted with the 13 volumes of books published in the framework of the project “Architectural Epigraphy of Uzbekistan”.
A presentation of the facsimile copy of the manuscript “Zafarname”, stored in the collection of the British Library, is included in the agenda of the forum.
The participants are offered a rich cultural program. They enjoy excursion on the motor ships along the Neva River, a gala dinner at the Park Inn Hotel Pribaltiyskaya with performance from the legendary Yalla band, and a treat from Uzbek cuisine on the tables.
On the eve of the congress in St. Petersburg, an Uzbekistan Today correspondent talked with the academic leader of the project “Cultural Heritage of Uzbekistan in the World’s Collections” Edward Rtveladze.
- Edward Vasilievich, you were ‘present at the creation’ of this project. Please tell us about how it was born.
- Speaking about the birth of the project, I would like to recall how it all began. The spring of 2015 can be considered the date of the birth of the project “Cultural Heritage of Uzbekistan in the World’s Collections”. Its significance was understood by all who stood at the roots. The idea, voiced by the author and project manager Firdavs Abdukhalikov, was unique and at the same time complex. Difficulties that arose on the way of its implementation were really quite a few. But even more has been associated with scientific discoveries, triumphs and achievements. After some time, the creative group of the project was formed, a detailed action plan was devised, the geography of the coverage of museums and libraries in which certain items of Uzbek heritage were kept was determined.
Russia was the first point of reference not by accident. Firstly, it is in this country that the largest number of items of Uzbek arts is concentrated. Second, many specialists working now in museums and libraries in Moscow and St. Petersburg are from Uzbekistan, pupils of the Tashkent scientific school. The first to respond was the Deputy Director of the Museum of the Orient, Doctor of Arts Tigran Mkrtychev, who is one of the ‘sons’ of the Uzbek fundamental school. Then the first album was formed. It was followed by further large-scale and laborious work.
- What is the secret of success and surprising speed of the project?
- The secret of the project development, which many foreign scientists are impressed with, is that the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev pays personal attention to the issues of supporting academic science, consolidating the scientific potential and uplifting the role of science in the development of the country. As the head of state repeatedly noted at meetings with representatives of science, time demands that we raise all walks of life as much as science to a new level of development, because without that it is difficult to address the pressing issues facing the society.
Today, the need for further development of scientific cooperation with the world’s leading institutions, universities, academic centers and academies of science is evident. Comprehensive support for science and scientists is one of the priorities of our state. This idea is reflected in many decrees and government resolutions. As for our project, the issues of preservation, research and popularization of the cultural legacy of Uzbekistan are at the center of attention of the President. And it is this attention and the creation of appropriate conditions that is the benchmark for the success of the project.
- What principles, scientific methods are imbued in this project?
- The embodiment of the idea of the project went in two directions - science and popular science. This is due to the fact that the books published, according to the idea of the authors, should not only reflect the scientific side, but also popularize the cultural heritage of Uzbekistan both in the country and abroad. As for scientific methods and principles, the project is guided by experience developed by both domestic and foreign science. The remarkable definition of the outstanding physicist Michael Faraday was the cornerstone of the understanding of science: The main task of real science is the collection of material, its processing, analysis and generalization. Our project is built on the principles developed, in particular, in relation to the study of the cultural heritage of Uzbekistan by the national school headed by Professor M. Masson and his wife, the outstanding scientist Galina Anatolievna Pugachenkova, and other celebrated representatives of the academic school of Uzbekistan - L. Rempel, Ya. Gulyamov.
The books published offered a huge amount of material collected, essentially little known previously to a wide range of scientists. For some specialists, some of this material is perhaps familiar, but in the broadest sense, its cataloging and research had not been there. The project uses a systematic approach to the publication of data. When acquainting with a variety of publications and albums, the academic staff of the project did not encounter, for example, systematizing the material on Dutch or French paintings stored in diverse museums and collections around the world, and presenting it in a single album. There are separate volumes dedicated to the works of Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Italian artists, but there was no systemic presentation of their artistic legacy. That is perhaps the most crucial scientific value of our project, namely, a systemic approach to the study of the cultural heritage of Uzbekistan, which has hundreds of items stored at home and abroad.
It is essential to emphasize that the volumes contain tremendous reliable, factually verified material with clear data – indicating the place of origin, description, date. The principle of rigorous scientific analysis was applied in its preparation.
- Articles are contributed by national authors as much as foreign specialists, aren’t they?
- Yes. Each volume contains analytical articles devoted to this or that area of culture. They are written by many authors – Russian, European, Western specialists, museum and library employees, and Russian scientists. Such a symbiosis, built on the achievements of world science and the expertise of our specialists, yielded a positive effect.
Joint work allows to not only publish books, but also develop museum business in different countries. Hitherto, many items of the Uzbek heritage had not been attributed to and were stored, as they say, ‘in vain’, only occupying a place in the stocks. The project made it possible to deduce many, often unique items from the shadows, to study and identify their worthy place in history.
Therefore, there are several museums in one of the presented albums on German collections alone, namely, Berlin, Dresden, Stuttgart, Leipzig. The collection of objects from Uzbekistan was kept even in the museum of the city of Lubeck. Meanwhile, very few people knew that that city has such a collection.
- The territory of Uzbekistan has been interethnic from time immemorial. How do the books reflect the culture of various ethnicities who lived in this region?
- This is another important principle of the project: the authors and the creative group did not adhere to the principle of ethnic exclusiveness and commitment to the opinion that the published heritage is the property of only the title ethnicity. It is the property of all peoples who have inhabited the territory of modern Uzbekistan since ancient times. Over time, it accumulated in the modern cultural heritage of the Uzbek people. For example, in Surkhandarya and Kashkadarya, Kungrat Uzbeks, one of the largest Uzbek tribal groups, live. They still keep the tradition of making koshm. These felt carpets are decorated with Hellenistic ornament – the minander – a snake, a broken line elaborated in Ancient Greece that eventually became an integral part of the culture of the Uzbek people. And there are a lot of examples of such symbiosis in the modern cultural heritage of Uzbekistan.
- What do you see as the main objective of this project?
- Undoubtedly, our books will be of use to many national and foreign scientists studying the cultural heritage of Uzbekistan, since they represent the most important source of information, often little known, and they offer also a foundation for further research. These books are in fact the most critical source material for a more concrete and in-depth understanding of the great heritage of our country in all the diversity of its manifestations. And I consider this the principal academic significance of the project.