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Uzbekistan: Golden Heart of the Silk Road, Part 2 of 2

2023-03-22
Lingua:English
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More than a thousand years ago, citizens from Asia, the Middle East, and the West converged in one location to share ideas, culture, art, spices, music, and more, as they journeyed to faraway lands. This location was the site of modern-day Uzbekistan, once known as an oasis in the middle of the famed Silk Road.

Art and culture have flourished in the region for centuries. Many of today’s artisans who showcase their skills to locals and tourists alike are descendants of elders, who passed their knowledge on from generation to generation, thus preserving ancient methods. The town of Rishtan, known as the “Ceramics Capital of Uzbekistan,” is where the craft has been continuously practiced for over a thousand years. Here, pottery workshops still produce wondrous hand-crafted clay creations found nowhere else in the world. Wood carving is another art form that has thrived in Uzbekistan for at least a thousand years. Carpet weaving in Uzbekistan dates back to the Stone Age. While traveling through Central Asia in the 13th Century, the Italian explorer Marco Polo wrote in his travel notes, “One has to know that the finest and most beautiful carpets in the world are manufactured here.”

One of the most fascinating instruments played by Uzbek musicians is the Chang Qobyz Bozor, known more commonly as the “Jaw Harp” in the West. The deep sound of this unique instrument accompanies beautiful dances, and is definitely in a league of its own. The most popular form of dance in Uzbekistan is Lazgi, which dates back to the Khorazmians who lived in the delta of the Amu-Darya River at least 3,000 years ago. Lazgi is recognized in the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity as a cultural heritage of Uzbekistan.

From April 25 to 30, 2022 the city of Khiva hosted the International Lazgi Dance Festival. The Boysun Bahori Folklore Festival is another annual event that’s immensely popular among locals and foreign guests alike. Among the festival’s highlights are elaborate performances of local songs, which combine singing, dancing, instrumentation, and theatrical performances, all while performers wear beautifully embroidered local attire. Historical epic poetry is also performed at the festival by bakhshis, or storytellers.
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2
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