Friday, May 18, 2012

The Merchant's Sizzle Words: Kazakh and Bokhara

When I went shopping during the two years I lived in Kabul, Afghanistan, I always heard two words spoken by the merchants in a tone of awe: Kazakh and Bokhara.  The Kazakh style silver jewelry was greatly admired, and the Bokhara carpets and tapestries were prized.  The Teke tribe's gilded jewelry was in a different category and was not such a commonly displayed item while I was in Afghanistan.

The Kazakh design is usually a repetition of pyramidal shapes built up by tiny dots of silver applied to an otherwise smooth surface, most often forming a circular or oval frame around a central gemstone setting.  The technique of forming patterns with tiny dots of silver is called granulation (making grains).  Occasionally the piece would be lightly gold-washed, but not gilded in the same manner that the Teke tribe gilded their silver jewelry.

A simple pendant that I purchased in Afghanistan illustrates the design.

Afghan Antique Silver Filigree Granulation Pendant Coral Carnelian

The Bokhara jewelry is very different from the Kazakh.  Uzbekistan jewelry makers do not follow rigid patterns as their rug makers usually do, nor do they always design the same motifs and gemstones for their more gaudy ornaments.  Here is an example from my own collection:

Bokhara Uzbekistan Pendant Traditional Turkmen Art of Central Asia

The Uzbek Turkoman artisan did, however, produce more subtly decorated pieces of jewelry.  I have another piece from Uzbekistan in my collection that is a delicate enameled floral design on the hollow half-globe of silver.  
I have to admit that some of the subtlety of the piece is removed by the tinkling bells added to the pendant.  They do announce the wearer's approach.  

Bukhara silver enamel cloisonne pendant with dangling bells

International visitors are welcome at my web site to browse, to gather information or to purchase items.  The higher value items are offered on a lay-away (a reserved item paid for in installments) plan.  Come for a visit!


  1. Your posts are always fascinating, Anna! Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.

  2. My pleasure! You are always welcome ;) I appreciate very much your promos, believe me.