Tashkent Journal: Mosaics, Lenin and a Japanese Pond

I love this colorful Soviet mosaic on Taras Shevchenko Street in Tashkent. The mosaic is on the wall of School #110, which also bears the name of the Ukrainian poet, Taras Shevchenko. The large mosaic panel was made by artist V. Kutkin and was dedicated on June 1, 1970. Many Ukrainians settled this part of the Tashkent and the mosaic and park was part of the rebuild after the 1966 earthquake. A statue of Shevchenko in front of the mosaic was dedicated in 2002 and the then Ukrainian president attended the ceremony.

You can see Shevchenko in the left center of the panel, playing a kobzar, a traditional Ukrainian guitar. I am not sure what is taking place on the left side. I see a muscled worker with a newly forged sword and some fellow workers saluting his work. To the left looks like some people suffering, but I am not sure what is the cause of their suffering. As one moves past Shevchenko, spear-carrying soldiers appear to be marching by a muscled women holding both arms up. On the far right, Uzbekistan is celebrated by its rivers, cotton production and golden sunshine

Who was Taras Shevchenko? He was a artist and author who lived in the 1800s. He is regarded as the “father” of the Ukrainian literature and the modern Ukrainian language and had strong views of Ukrainian independence and often ridiculed the Russian royal house.

The art of the Soviet Union is fascinating and I hope city officials preserve them. In the late Soviet times, all building projects had 5% of the budget dedicated to “artistic elements”. It is part of the history of the city and as we get further away from the Uzbek SSR times, there will be pressure to modernize and demolish Soviet art and architecture. I feel it is one of the charms of the former Soviet sphere for foreigners. I understand not all people would agree, but I also think that all periods of history of a country should be preserved in part. This is a good website that gives a more in depth history of Soviet mosaic panels.

This is another 1970s Soviet building. It was completed in 1970 to celebrated the centennial of Lenin and was a museum dedicated to him. For 20 years, middle and high schools in the city led mandatory field trips to the museum. After independence, it was changed to a museum of Uzbekistan.

In 2001, the Japanese Embassy and the Uzbek Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations built a park near the Tashkent Tower. There were quite a few water fowl in the large pond.

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