Dagestan is known for silver, and the metalworking skills of its artisans are on display in a special exhibit of work by Manaba Magomedova that opened Tuesday evening in a ceremony attended by Dagestan head Ramazan Abdulatipov.
"It is a huge event when an artist from Dagestan is displayed at the State Historical Museum — It seems to me that it happens very rarely," Abdulatipov said. Abdulatipov went on to laud the traditions and metalworking artistry of the residents of Kubachi, the hometown of Magomedova.
Manaba Magomedova, who belonged to the Dargin ethnic group, was born into the twelfth-generation of a family that had been begun working as goldsmiths in the 15th century. She chose to follow the traditional occupation of her ancestors, yet also worked as a teacher at the Tbilisi Academy of Art and later the Moscow School of Industrial Artistry.
Magomedova was a prolific artist: She often worked twelve-hour days and continued to work until her death at the age of 84 in March of this year. Over the course of her career, she made a wide variety of objects ranging from decorative plates and bowls to swords, book covers, and jewelry. In addition to her work with metal, Magomedova also dabbled in painting and enamel, combining her talents to make silver objects studded with semi-precious stones and enamel images.
Though Magomedova eventually received the title "Honored Artist of Dagestan," her work was by no means confined to that republic — Magomedova moved to Georgia at a young age and spent much of her life traveling back and forth across the Caucasus, making many connections in both countries, which for much of her career were united in the Soviet Union.
Though Magomedova is recently deceased, the exhibit is not a posthumous retrospective: In fact, the museum began planning the exhibit about a year before her death, and the artist had considerable input into what works would be shown and how they would be displayed.
"One can say the exhibit was designed specially for her," said Alexei Levykin, director of the State Historical Museum.
Magomedova's work will be on display until Feb. 14 at the State Historical Museum, 1 Red Square.