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Sackvoyage Tour Ltd. » Country profile » Nukus » Highlights

Ellik Kala region - from IV BC to I BC is the period of Khorezmian ancient civilization prosperity. It is hard to believe the arid and baked plains of Kyzyl Kum desert were once densely populated marshland. As the Amudarya forced its way into the Aral Sea around 2000 BC, the region slowly drained and dried. As rivers changed course, irrigation canals became fragile desert lifelines controlled by feudal lords. Whenever irrigation canals were destroyed, stranded cities withered and died, leaving skeletons of past glory. Monuments like Djanbas Kala (II BC), Toprak Kala (IV BC), Ayaz Kala (III BC) date back to that period.
Karakalpakstan Art Museum in Nukus the gem of the region, home of the remarkable collection assembled by Igor Savitsky during the earlier part of this century. Igor Savitsky (1915-1984), an artist from Moscow came to Karakalpakstan as a member of the Khorezm Archeological and Ethnographic expedition of the USSR Academy of Sciences. As a result of this introduction he spent years studying and collecting ethnographic art of the region, from antiquity through to his own time. He found forgotten treasures from as early as ancient Bactria and Sogdiana, left by the passing of the legions of Alexander the Great in the 3rd century B.C. He carefully collected and recorded the hard work of the nomadic peoples who crisscrossed this territory during the last centuries. In the 1950s he established a home for his collection in the Karakalpakstan Art Museum. But Savitskys achievements did not stop here. Savitsky was a great admire of the Uzbek and Russian artists who worked between 1900 and the 1930s. These artists, part of the great European revolution in modern art history, were virtually silenced by the political pressures of the day. Savitsky realized that the works of these artists represented the emergence of a unique Uzbek and Russian Avant-garde style, shortcut at its inception. The works of these artists had fallen into disrepute and were being systematically destroyed by the creators of the new political-social ideology.
Igor Savitsky collected over 81.500 items during the first half of the century. He housed these pieces in the archives and stores of the Nukus museum. Since the opening of this museum in 1966, limited numbers of these works have been placed on view for the public.

"Once you have become the companion of the road,
it calls you again. The road lies outside the door
of your house full of charm and mystery".

Graham, Stephen
Through Russian Central Asia (1916)