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When we talk about the applied arts of Uzbekistan, we usually talk about ceramics, carpets weaving, and embroidery. But we completely forget about our traditional Beshik-cradles. Unfortunately, beshik is gradually becoming a thing of the past. When a child is born in a family Uzbeks call respected mullah, who sings azan to the new-born (azan is welcome prayer). The child hears his/her name for the first time in azan. According to the popular belief after the carrying out this ritual a new-born will grow to a noble and kind person.
The name of new-born is pronounced directly to his/her ears. After the birth of a child so called great and small “chilla” begins. Small chilla lasts for twenty days and during this time access to the child is limited to all except the parents, a nurse and other close people due to the necessity. Great chilla lasts forty days during which the ceremony of putting the child to “beshik” (cradle) is held. All close people take part in this process. If the new-born is the first child in a family, then new cradle – beshik is bought in a bazaar. In case of the second or third child he/she can be put to the beshik of his brother or sister. Beshik is the home of the child where he lies for most part of his days till he/she can walk.
Beshik holds a particular position in the life of Uzbeks. Beshik is very convenient and useful including in hygienic regard. The child always dry and neat in it. Beshik is made from the fruit type of trees. There is a special opening in its four wooden leg construction. In the upper head and lower feet parts of the bed there are two veneer arcs, which are connected by a strong carved wooden axis. There is a handle on each of the arcs for rocking the cradle. Many generations can grow in a firm, convenient and beautiful beshik.
There are some people who have grown up in the beshik of their father. It is a good luck for a young mother to grow her child in such an old beshik which is supposed to bring happiness. Therefore beshik is a holy object in every Uzbek family and even when they do not have a new-born, they never throw it out. It is always kept in each family.
An exhibition “Lullaby in the moonlight”, dedicated to the history of the traditional baby cradle – Beshik, opened in the Tashkent House of Photography. The exposition consists of 10 works of hereditary beshik-masters, as well as photographs of the process of making a lullaby from preparing a wooden frame to applying patterns.