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Untsukul-the center of decorative notching on wood with metal

The Republic of Dagestan, Untsukul region

Village Untsukul in Untsukulskiy region of the Republic of Daghestan is one of the big and well-known centers of national decorative trade. From time immemorial, it is the place of production various products of cornel trees, apricot trees or nutwood – canes, vases, pencil holders, decorated dishes, pictures, etc. with the thinnest silver or cupronickel notching and with geometrical in its basis original and distinctive ornament.

The art of Untsukul ornamental carving with metal on wood in its beauty, refinement, and at the same time simplicity and laconism of decorative means, unpretentiousness of technical methods, is the only one in its kind inimitable phenomenon in modern decorative and applied arts. The work of Untsukul masters is laborious, demanding of elaboration of special skills, precisely calculated operations and methods. The ornament is strict, graphic, consists of combination of geometrical forms and images of solar signs. Untsukul art of notching with metal on wood arose in the XVIII century on the basis of existing before that rich traditions of making artistically decorated cold steel with silver notching on iron and bones (horns) and artistic wood carving. In the past Untsukul masters were famous for being skillful gunsmiths.

Untsukul cold steel and firearms kept in museums of Moscow, St. Petersburg and Tbilisi are distinguished by high technical and decorative qualities. In the period of national war of liberation of Daghestan people under the leadership of imam Shamil, in Untsukul cannons were founded, gunpowder was made, blades of daggers and sabres were forged. After the end of Caucasian war tsarist government prohibited production of cold steel and firearms. Wonderful examples of Untsukul art are the ink set, pen, paperweight, penknife, candlesticks, made by masters M. Kebedov, M. Ibragimov, N. Khanbudaev and given to V.I. Lenin in 1921 by the Daghestanian delegation, which visited him in the name of working mountain dwellers of Daghestan. In 1926 in the village Untsukul an artel was organized, which in 1929 was renamed Artel of trading cooperation, and in 1960 – Untsukulskaya factory of artistic wood treatment (now Close Corporation “Untsukulskaya artistic factory of M. Dakhadaev”), which produces traditional products of wood with metal notching. At present Untsukulskaya factory of artistic wood treatment produces wide assortment of products with metal incrustation – canes, mortars, decorative pictures, dashes, boxes, vases, services, brooches, scabbards of daggers, cups and many other items. Collections of Untsukul masters’ products are kept in the State art museum of East people, the All-Russian museum of decorative and applied and national arts (Moscow), the Russian ethnographic museum (St. Petersburg), and also in Republican museums – the Daghestanian joint historical-architectural museum of A.A. Takho-Godi, the Daghestanian museum of visual arts of P.S. Gamzatova.  

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