Uzbek FAB-6: Hospitality, Culture, Climate, Traditions, Cuisine, Oriental Bazaars

Uzbek Hospitality

Uzbek Hospitality

Uzbekistan during tourism seasons reminds Babylon – it is a pandemonium of languages and cultures.

Still, Russian speaking tourists are dearer and closer to our hearts than tourists from the rest of the world. We should thank the Russian language for that which within 70 years in Central Asia became Esperanto – Russians, Kyrgyz, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Turkmens use it for communication. Unlike the Arabic language, which once used to be commonly used all over the East, Russian language did not suppress national languages but gained national notes itself yet at the same time keeping its purity. Foreigner in Uzbekistan can be helped, suggested, fed but usually it is impossible to fulfill a wish of “Talking about life” – it is one of the most outstanding features of Uzbekistan people – a philosophical talk while drinking a cup of green tea. No matter from which Russian city the guest comes from, his Uzbekistani interlocutor has a brother, father of the son-in-law, or friend’s son there or he used to visit the city himself or served in the army there.

Many Russians come to Uzbekistan answering the call of the nostalgia. They come here and touch the changed city perplexedly – where is old Alayskiy? Where are the wooden gates of Gospitalka? Here a Jewish shoemaker used to sit, and there, in front of the fountain, used to be a small shop. Tashkent welcomes them with the urban landscape in which verdure and blue sky dissolved; with numerous foreign cars on wide roads and too clean, in European style, bazaars… Only sometime later, when sitting in a small chaykhona on the bank of Akhnor in a company of close people, they make sure that old friends remain the same – the same funny, hospitable, generous – it can only happen that they have become several kilos heavier and inside their newly renovated house inner yards there are Nexias but not VAZes.

Those who have never been to Uzbekistan are full of stereotypes. They wonder at seeing short skirts of local beauties, wonder to availability of night clubs and are happy with attractive prices. Later, they will be telling with astonishment how they stopped to take a photo of a house in Bukhara and were called from there, set at the ayvan under the vineyard and were offered to drink a cup of tea. Or how they were bitten by a wasp and a whole crowd gathered around discussing how to help and the scale of the help overcame the level of the problem. Or how they were treated to the apples from the garden and flatbread from the bakery and were not just explained the route but showed and accompanied. They will forget all historical facts and picturesque names told by the guide, but they will always remember the aroma of the melon and the air of this hospitable land.

Our hospitality is not ostentatious, it is not for the sake of earning more or be liked. Uzbekistan people need It themselves, it is on a genetic level, in blood. Guest is the most longed-for interlocutor. It is interesting to listen to him, to wonder, to smile at his delight.

And of course, to feed him, to offer the best and to present a memorable gift…

Uzbek Culture

Uzbek Culture

The astonishingly various and ancient culture of Uzbekistan owes its color to a combination of many cultures and assimilation of numerous ethnical groups, from China to Europe. The Great Silk Road facilitated fusion of cultures of many nationalities, their traditions, and arts. Traditions in different regions of Uzbekistan are not the same – each area and district has its national distinctive features. Due to special characteristic of a piece of art, ornament, piece of cloth or music, the homeland of an interlocutor was identified. Yet all these varieties have a single feature – fiddly many-days labor over things or notions. Fine and filigree work did perfectly.

If talking about architecture, Uzbekistan gave the world numerous works which are included in the world heritage of UNESCO today. Palaces of rulers, houses of aristocracy and townspeople, mosques, madrassas, mausoleums, summer palaces, khanakas, trade domes, minarets, fortresses are the buildings that impress with the beauty of their ornaments and decoration. There are places in Uzbekistan where samples of pre-Islamic culture can be found or the influence of ancient religion reflected in works of masters of the Islamic period. Visits to architectural monuments are included into historical tours along the Great Silk Road.

Central Asian music culture is described in works of such scientists as ibn Sino (Avicenna), Horezmi, Jami, Farabi, who paid great attention to the best pieces of national music art. Our tours include stories about musical instruments and attendance of national music concerts.

Uzbekistan ceramics can be discussed forever. Slip and dry ceramics are the two most widespread types of ceramics in Uzbekistan. Each region of the country famous with its potters has kept unique features characteristic of only this particular school. The ornament on clay ware makes it possible to define the region of Uzbekistan where it comes from and in some cases even define the author. Main centers of ceramic are located in Rishtan, Gijduvan, and Khoresm. Gumar, Samarkand, and Tashkent also have their unique patterns in pottery making and decorating. We invite you to master ceramics in workshops of real artists and to create your own pieces of art!

We offer much more other masterclasses: pumpkin and skin painting in Samarkand; puppets making in Bukhara; you will try yourself in coining and making knives – many masters have ancient materials and tool ware that they got from their professional ancestors in the workshop. You will see how handmade silk carpets are produced.

Cultural variety is represented in many museums among which there are world-famous Savitskiy Museum in the city of Nukus, Arts Museum in Tashkent, Termez Archeological Museum. Each architectural monument is a distinctive museum, and there is a whole fortress city – Ishan Kala where nothing has changed for many centuries.

Uzbekistan Traditions

Uzbekistan Traditions

The most interesting and colorful traditions accompany Uzbek weddings. We will invite you to a real wedding in Bukhara, Samarkand or Khorezm, and you will reveal the meaning of many wonderful ceremonies and dance language which is essential for all national celebrations.

Today, Uzbekistan national dance exists in two forms: traditional classical dance and people’s (folk) dance. Classical dance is famous with Fergana School (“Katga Uyni”), Bukhara School (“Makoma dance”), and Khorezm School (“Ufori makoma”). National dance is very diverse. These are cheerful, lyric, drama dances with their regional peculiarities and plastic, always telling an epic story.

Traditional craft is embroidery. The center of gold-embroidery art is in Bukhara. Robes and skull-caps of gold-embroidery made in this region are famous all over the world. The tomb of Saint Daniel in Samarkand is covered with a huge velvet coverlet decorated with surahs from the Koran and it was made by Bukhara masters. The luxury of ornaments is astonishing!

Suzani is traditional every-day embroidery. Usually, there are coverlets or table clothes from natural materials, usually cotton one embroidered manually or on a sewing machine. Suzani is created using old sketches thus preserve ancient traditions.

One of the oldest and famous productions in Uzbekistan is silk and wool carpets one. Majority of the carpets are hand mane and produced on ancient equipment without automation and following many-centuries technology and traditions. In order to produce one silk carpet of average size, several masters work for months. Carpet weaving centers keep sketches of old national ornamentы with special care. These pictures preserve Central Asian symbolism. Samarkand and Margilan silk factories are known all over the world. You will see the whole process from the beginning to the ready-made product.

Another tradition which we offer our guest to be inspired with is Bukhara bath. Bath in the East is not just a cleanness of the body; it is the purity of the soul. This ceremony cleans not only the body but the thoughts as well.

In Bukhara, there is a bath built in the 14th century – Bozori Kord Khammam. It is a good and spatial bath inside but unsightly from the outside. Step over the threshold of an oriental bath leaving all day bustle beside. It is not only national. It is universal.

You will see a colorful national game of Kupkari, a traditional horse competition from ancient times. The literal translation of the word is “body of a goat”, specially prepared ulak, a capture of the bravest and most adroit rider.

Usually, this game has been arranged at Navruz time, Sunnat-toy, marriage or circumcision, in honor of the birth of the crown prince, and it has always been exciting and august spectacle.

Feel as Middle Ages nomad in travel on horses, donkeys, or camels. So that to get back to a traditional yurt of a nomad from a tour and touch the story of our people.

Uzbek Cuisine

Uzbek Cuisine

Traditional national Uzbekistan cuisine is popular and respected by gourmets all over the world.

Just as in many other cultures, there is a three-times meal in Uzbekistan: breakfast – nonushta, lunch – tushlik ovkat, and dinner – kechki ovkat. Nonushta literally means “break the flatbread” or “eat flatbread”. The ancient tradition of respect to bread remained. Flatbread cannot be put upside down on the table. That’s impossible to throw bread on the ground. Usually, dried bread is gathered and given to neighbors who have cattle or pets. Uzbekistan people like to visit each other and to bring flatbread with beautiful ornament on it. Some types of flatbread are made with onion or meat inside, others are covered with sesame or kalonja.

Central Asia is famous for a great variety of sour-milk products. The most well-known are katyk which is made from sour milk and suzma, thick baked milk similar to the curds.

Traditional palov has numerous regional diversity and peculiarities. There is a characteristic traditional dish in every Uzbekistan region. The local principle is applied almost to all Uzbekistan cuisine. For example, somsa, a pasty with meat, potato, or pumpkin and puff pastry, differs in its size and shape. And, of course, famous shashlik, taste, and recipes of which differ in each region of Uzbekistan.

Modern Uzbekistan cuisine follows its many-centuries traditions yet is inclined to be more dietary one taking the features of modern organism into account. Moreover, it is always in search of new tastes that makes modern Uzbekistan culinary art famous far beyond the county borders.

Tea as a ceremony is one of the most wonderful oriental traditions. First, tea is offered to a guest. There is an additional set of rules as well including preparation, service and drinking tea. Tea ceremony in Uzbekistan usually includes service of such dishes as somsa, flatbread, halva, dried fruits and various fried and baked dishes.

During the journey, you will taste famous and familiar dishes as well as rare ones that are common only for a small part in Uzbekistan. Of course, we will tell you the history of each dish.

Special attention in our tours is given to an excursion to famous wine factory after Khavrenko in Samarkand. New types of wine are created there and 16 tones of grapes are treated annually. M.A. Khavrenko said, “In places, where people drink wine, they do not drink vodka.”

You will taste three groups of wines: table wine, heady wine, and sweet wine. Each group is subdivided into brands (aging not less than 2 years) and ordinary ones. After traditional excursion around the museum, all guests are offered 10 traditional glasses of wine in an increasing manner – from soft wine to the balm.

Uzbekistan Oriental Bazaars

Uzbekistan Oriental Bazaars

Just like many centuries ago, oriental bazaars are full of people, goods, crush, bustle and peculiar bazaar spirit – the Spirit of Trade which has been flourishing since the times of the Great Silk Road.

There is a famous bazaar in each town and equally famous specialized bazaars around towns. Many of them are several centuries old. In their core, these are just places, crossroads where people have been gathering and selling and buying things for centuries. There are birds and cattle bazaars, carpets bazaars, hats bazaars, jewelry bazaars, and even knives or horses bazaars.

It is great pleasure to walk along Fergana bazaars. Cheerful and kind Fergana people invite customers to come to their counters, and they want less to sell than to talk. “If you do not want to buy, come and taste it at least.” They have their pictures taken with great pleasure and if you ask them a question about goods, you will hear the whole story. Indeed, have you got thorough knowledge about rice? And they do know everything about rice.

What about Chust? Provincial and nice Chust where one of the oldest bazaars is found, skull-caps one (“tyubeteika”).  It takes one week for a master-hand to make one skull-cap. Then it is given to Chust bazaar, a crossroad in front of the mahalla, where at bazaar day – only one in a week – there is no room to swing a cat. Customers from all over Uzbekistan come to this bazaar to buy authentic Chust skull-cap which is either worn only on holidays or is given as a present.

Siab Bazaar in Samarkand is a world of sweets. Noisy, smiling Siab, huge, stretched far beyond its borders, in the shade of ancient monuments, invites you to taste, talk, make jokes with sellers. Here, you can drink mulberry juice which has just been made before you very eyes – tart, thick-vinous, coloring your hands and tongue crimson.

What about Tashkent? After so many years, it is impossible to tell for sure who and when has started to use spices in the East. As you know, water seasoned with bay leaf and cumin can be considered as a soup, and if you add some millet there, it will already be a royal dinner… And the very poor man in the East could boast of seasoning food with expensive spices just as the richest people in Europe.

Majority of spices came to our land from South East Asia where from caravans were moving along the Great Silk Road, with bags full of pepper which was getting more and more expensive with each parasang and by the time of arrival to the place of destination, it cost as a whole bag of jewels.

Spices can be bought at any bazaar in Tashkent but the widest products range is at Eski Juva, Chorsu. Countless counters with spices from different regions of Uzbekistan, India, China, UAE are found under a huge dome building on the second floor.

Everything can be found here – possibly, there is hardly a spice which is not there. Even if it is not available at the moment, it will be found and brought especially for you.

It is a great pleasure to walk across the bazaar and look at colorful hills with the various smell, ask their names, listen to stories about spices and, of course, buy them measured by tiny shots in small paper-bags, a bit of every spice.

So that when you are back home from the trip, you open this little paper-bag with jeera, smell it and remember Uzbekistan.

Every bazaar has its peculiarity and a product which cannot be bought anywhere else. Either you buy it overpaying or buy the wrong thing. Hats and wool socks are better to be bought in Khiva. Gold and jewelry – in Bukhara. In Samarkand – dried fruits, flat cakes, sweets. In Fergana Valley – ceramics, knives, silk. In Tashkent – spices.

You can find souvenirs everywhere. It is important to remember not to buy ancient things as the customs will not let them pass. When you buy a carpet, special document should be completed at a factory.

The bazaar is the heart of the East.

Uzbekistan Climate

Uzbekistan Climate

Uzbekistan, with its mixture of desert regions, steppes, and river valleys, in the heart of the unique historical complex of nomad cultures and oasis settlements. It vividly reflects the history of Central Asia.

Two-thirds of Uzbekistan territory is covered with steppes and desert plains that smoothly grow into foothills owing to mountain chains of Tien Shan and Gissaro-Alay on the east and southeast pick of which, at the borders with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, reach 4.500 meters over the sea level. According to the statistics, 300 days a year the sun gives its warmth and light and annual precipitation level is 300 mm.

It is particularly pleasant to travel here during the periods from early spring till early June, when the desert is covered with various greenery, and from September till early November. Burning summer heat is accompanied with a low level of humidity, relatively cool evenings and abundance of fruits on markets while winter is dry and sunny.

Winter is a skiing season. Air temperature at mountains reaches +18 ˚C but the blanket of snow remains hard and cool. There is a wide range of ski runs, slalom and downhill run and the maximum point is 4,100 meters over the sea level. Extreme lovers get there with MI-8 helicopter, no more than 18 people aboard. Five rides can be done in one day. Cable-rope takes riders to the point of 2,500 meters over the sea level.

Dominating height of the Bolshoy Chimgan Mountain (“Grand Chimgan”) is 3,309 meters. View of the resort area is opened from there as well as Ugam, Pskem, and Maydantal mountain ranges. At the root of a mountain, there is a resort area called “Chimgan Oromgokhi”, one of the favorite places among travelers. The resort area consists of hotels, cottages, cafes, and offers a wide range of services in the sphere of organization of winter rest and meets various needs of the travelers.

There are also special climate zones in Uzbekistan. For example, Zaamin Reserve, a national resort, paradise, a unique place in Central Asia as well in the whole world. This type of vocation can be classified as health tourism as Zaamin Reserve’s air only can cure. It is amazing that even during the hottest days temperature in the reserve is not over +33 ˚C. Because of cumulus clouds, the usual temperature is about 27 ˚C, even in the sun. Breathing is so fresh and easy that Zaamin air with the scent of mountain blossom and herbs is noted by all visitors. What wonderful stars in Zaamin! International radio astronomic observatory “Suffa” is located in Zaamin and not without reason. The stars here are bright and huge as if one can reach them with a bare hand…