Nadezhda Dukhovny
Nadezhda Dukhovny

Ancient and unique Uzbekistan: Qashqadaryo II

Welcome to Uzbekistan! Welcome to Qashqadaryo Region!

Posted by Uzbekistan Embassy in Israel on Saturday, April 10, 2021

Many people have heard about the ancient village of Gilan in the Shahrisabz district of the Qashqadaryo region, its beautiful nature, fresh air, and unique traditions. The villagers are mainly engaged in horticulture, agriculture, and animal husbandry. Fruits such as apples, cherries, pears, walnuts, which are saturated with mountain air, are very popular only in the “red currant” variety, which is unique to this region.

The village is located at an altitude of 2336 meters above sea level, 87 kilometers from the city center, and is home to about 6,000 people on 1,300 farms in the area. There is a rural medical center, secondary schools, Muhammad Ibn Gaylani mosque, a teahouse, a rural mahalla guzar, a rural market, commercial shops, and pharmacies in the region. Near the village of Gilan, there are gorges “Turku Tuygun”, “Novshur”, “Kunkormas”. There is a 52-kilometer trail from Gilan to the village of Tamshush in the Surkhandaryo region via the Novshur Gorge. The rural population is mainly engaged in agriculture.

This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Territorial Administration for the Development of Tourism in the Qashqadaryo Region

Another distinctive feature of the village is its centuries-old mills. The 85-year-old Kurbanali Khaknazarov, known in the village as “Choykhor”, has been working for hundreds of years on a hand-made flour mill, which amazes not only local but also foreign tourists. In the homes of 4 blacksmiths and 2 carpenters in the village, master classes are being organized to demonstrate such unique handicrafts in practice. Examples of gastronomic tourism include a 1-meter layer (water, local wheat flour, sugar), a creamy patir (sour cream from local sheep’s milk, wheat flour, water), and mutton roasted in mutton butter.

This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Territorial Administration for the Development of Tourism in the Qashqadaryo Region

In the existing “guest houses” with antique architecture, there is an opportunity to hold a unique master class “baking in the oven” with the participation of tourists. The popularity of the potato variety with a unique agronomic mechanism, grown on the slopes of the village of Gilan, among Central Asian countries can be the basis for the development of agritourism in the region.

This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Territorial Administration for the Development of Tourism in the Qashqadaryo Region

You can visit the tomb of Muhammad ibn Gaylani and the mosque in the village, to build grass houses in the gorges “Turku Tuygun”, “Kunkurmas” and “Novshur”, to enjoy the starry sky, to hold master classes on cooking meat over fire.

This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Territorial Administration for the Development of Tourism in the Qashqadaryo Region

Although the time is much more advanced today, women in Gilan still wear national costumes dating back centuries, respecting and preserving their traditions and customs. They see this as a matter of national pride.

This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Territorial Administration for the Development of Tourism in the Qashqadaryo Region

Why did the governor of Yerkurgan take an oath in front of the gods?

On the site of the ruins of Yerkurgan near the city of Qarshi, there was once a large fortress, a prosperous city full of people and craftsmen. The ruins of modern Yerkurgan are the place where this unique city came to us. The city was formed in the VIII-VII centuries BC on the basis of an ancient agricultural village located around the large Rudaksoy river, which flows through this area. Later, as a result of the expansion of the old village, which occupied about 3-4 hectares, on the surrounding area of ​​35-40 hectares, defensive walls were built, and thus the first city in the form of a huge fortress appeared in lower Qashqadaryo.

This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Territorial Administration for the Development of Tourism in the Qashqadaryo Region

It should be noted that during the Achaemenid period, construction work was carried out in the city of Yerkurgan, the ancient defensive walls of the city were repaired. Their remains are still preserved. The mighty Achaemenid kingdom, which ruled for more than two hundred years, was completely destroyed by five years of fighting by Alexander the Great. When he came to this region, there were two cities in Qashqadaryo – Uzunkir in the upper reaches of the Shahrisabz oasis, and Yerkurgan in the lower Qarshi oasis.

This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Territorial Administration for the Development of Tourism in the Qashqadaryo Region

Today, many unique findings of historical significance have been excavated under the ruins of this ancient city. They give an idea of the place on the site of these hills, where life once flourished, and the customs, traditions that once were observed here.

The statue of the governor of Yerkurgan, kept in the State Museum of History and Culture of Qashqadaryo region, dates back to the III-IV centuries AD. This exhibit, found in the ruins of the ancient city, reflects some of the religious and cultural views of the people and rulers who inhabited it. According to many scholars, the expression of this statue means that the mayor of the ancient city took an oath before the gods and angels to “serve his people faithfully, to protect his territory” before ascending the throne.

This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Territorial Administration for the Development of Tourism in the Qashqadaryo Region

According to scientific sources, the historical archeological complex of Yerkurgan is now surrounded by hills of different sizes, consisting of the ruins of the old city. It was surrounded by two rows of walls in the VI-II centuries BC and covered an area of 150 hectares. The city was burned and destroyed by the combined forces of the Turkish Khanate and the Sassanids of Iran during the occupation of the Hephthalite state.

In the footsteps of Ibn Battuta

Ibn Battuta is the last universal practitioner geographer who traveled more than 120 thousand kilometers. He was often accused of lying, called him a “dreamer” since his travels were so masterfully and interestingly written. But a number of researchers and historians believe that Ibn Battut’s descriptions “are not the fruit of the fantasy of a medieval hoaxer, but the result of direct observation of the described lands and peoples”.

In 1333-1335 Ibn Battuta passed through Central Asia, having visited Urgench, Bukhara, Karshi, Samarkand, and Termez. In his notes, the wanderer described in detail architectural monuments, popular places, holy objects.

Traveling around these parts, the pilgrim also visited the city of Nakhshab (present-day Karshi). In Nakhshab, the wandering was received in a tent by Chingizid Tarmashirin.

The picturesque village of Khazrati Bashir is located 35 km from the city of Kitab, on the banks of the Kashkadarya River between the Khabash and Kul mountains. Due to its remoteness from large cities, the village managed to preserve the appearance of a traditional Central Asian village. Residents live in small clay houses, are engaged in cattle breeding, growing pomegranates, and making medicinal products.

One of the main attractions of the village is Pedarkush Mountain, on which there is a place called “Shohak”. Here on October 29 in 1449 the great scientist and statesman Mirzo Ulugbek tragically died. The place is located between two narrow roads: the first one passes through Yutinsoy and leads to the village of Khazrati Bashir, the second – through Kizilturik and leads to Samarkand.

This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Territorial Administration for the Development of Tourism in the Qashqadaryo Region

Saint Hazrati Bashir, who died in 768, also rests here. According to legend, the saint was born to elderly parents when his father was 90 years old, and his mother was 80 years old. After the birth of the first child, two more sons were born, but only the eldest child, Said Ahmad Bashir, had unique abilities. The fame of his miraculous skills began to reach Egypt and Mongolia, and people began to come from all Muslim countries in the hope of finding their mentor in him.

The heritage and teachings of Hazrati Bashir have gained great value and place in the Islamic world. The shrine was built after Uzbekistan gained independence and has become a prosperous place. Thousands of people come here every year to visit the grave of Hazrati Bashir.

Do you know that the Arabs in Qashqadaryo speak a unique language?

This photo is courtesy of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports of the Republic of Uzbekistan

Between the Zeravshan and Gessar ridges and the sands of the Sundukli, there is an undulating plain – the Qarshi steppe.

This photo is courtesy of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports of the Republic of Uzbekistan

Part of the steppe is irrigated by the waters of the Qashqadaryo river, which made it possible to use a significant part of the land for gardening and for sowing grain crops. The city of Qarshi is located in the eastern part of the steppe.

This photo is courtesy of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports of the Republic of Uzbekistan

It is surrounded by numerous villages and small settlements. Among them is the urban-type settlement Jeynau of Mirishkor region – a unique place where the Arab community lives.

This photo is courtesy of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports of the Republic of Uzbekistan

Since the VIII century, Arabs from Saudi Arabia began to come to the territory of Central Asia. First, these ethnic Arabs came to Tajikistan via Iraq, lived in Afghanistan for a while, and then settled in the Uzbek village of Jeynau.

They were amazing people, distinguished by their hard work and mercy. Local residents hospitably greeted peaceful wanderers.

This photo is courtesy of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports of the Republic of Uzbekistan

The population of Jeynau is 50 thousand people, of which 80% are Arabs. For 14 centuries, the descendants of the Arabs managed to preserve their ancient traditions, identity, culture, and way of life. The name of the village “Jeynau” comes from the Arabic language and means “we have come”.

This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Territorial Administration for the Development of Tourism in the Qashqadaryo Region

You can feel the flavor of Arab culture in the city everywhere: at the dekhkan bazaar and narrow streets with clay houses. Here you will meet Arab women in traditional dress and with a gold ring in the nasal septum.

This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Territorial Administration for the Development of Tourism in the Qashqadaryo Region

Their traditional clothes are noticeably different from Uzbek, and elements of several oriental cultures are mixed in national dances.

In addition, the residents managed to preserve ancient crafts, including carpet weaving. They are made following ancient Arabian technology.

This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Territorial Administration for the Development of Tourism in the Qashqadaryo Region

Arabs living in the village of Jeynov, Mirishkor district, Qashqadaryo region, still speak their dialects, which have been preserved since the 6th century. They retained their dialects of the time, and nowadays only 100 people could speak the language fully. This forgotten language has changed a bit as nomadic Arabs pass through neighboring countries – Afghanistan and Tajikistan.

This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Territorial Administration for the Development of Tourism in the Qashqadaryo Region

The Arabs of Jeynov were mainly four tribes of Arabs, who lived in the neighborhoods of Awwana, Bavvara, Harruk, and Anhui. In these places, the pure national traditions of the Arabs are fully preserved in many respects. The gizzi (women’s headdress) worn by Arab women, the hatabak (jewelry), the buhnak (ornamental type), and the natti worn on the nose are not found in other Central Asian nations.

This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Territorial Administration for the Development of Tourism in the Qashqadaryo Region

Jewelry is also made, some of which are worn at large family celebrations such as weddings. Family customs and rituals are carefully observed in the Arab community. As a rule, marriage is only between Arabs.

The old Jeynau mosque, which was built in 1242, operates in the city. People treat the elderly with great respect. The community remembers the language and customs of their ancestors, respects the traditions of their neighbors, and loves the country in which they live.

The Qashqadaryo oasis has become home not only for the Arabs in Jeynau. Descendants of the ancient Arabs live in the Kasan and Casby regions. A wonderful people, kind and sympathetic, is a pearl in the history of Uzbekistan.

This photo is courtesy of the Ministry of Tourism and Sports of the Republic of Uzbekistan

Have you heard about the “Girl’s carpet” knitted in Pomuq?

Besides the Arabs living in the Mirishkor district of the Qashqadaryo region, there are ethnic Turkmen who immigrated from Turkmenistan several centuries ago. They lived in the village of Pomuq.

This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Territorial Administration for the Development of Tourism in the Qashqadaryo Region

The Turkmen language is spoken in Pomuq. Pomuq Turkmen is very close to Uzbek. The main dialect of the Turkmen language is Tekin (Teke).

According to sources, the Pomuq region dates back to the X-XI centuries. Pir Ishaq Muhammad lived in the middle of the IX-X centuries in the land of the Pamuq Desert. The Turkmen people living in the present-day Pomuq region were captured and exiled to the south in the 12th century battle of the Khorezmshahs and Mongols and settled in the Pomuq region of the present-day Qashqadaryo region.

This photo is courtesy of the Press Service of the Territorial Administration for the Development of Tourism in the Qashqadaryo Region

Prior to their arrival, a small number of members of the Ata generation had lived here. The Turkmen people, led by the exiled Seljuk Bek, still live like locals. Today, the Turkmens living in Pomuq have preserved their traditions and customs. There is a Turkmen National Cultural Center and a folklore group.

The process of weaving cotton carpets makes a great impression on the visitors. The so-called “girl’s carpet” was especially unique. It has extra strands everywhere, about 20 inches. According to local residents, a toddler who is just starting to walk will learn to stand and walk holding on to the ropes.

Another noteworthy aspect is that such rugs are woven for their fathers by their daughters, and when the father dies, his body is wrapped in this rug and taken to the cemetery. It is difficult to find such traditions in other parts of the world.

 

About the Author
Nadezhda Dukhovny was born and raised in Uzbekistan and made aliya in 2005. She holds an MA in Linguistics from Tel Aviv University and works in translation. She has a true interest about her motherland and would like to tell more about that fascinating country to make Israeli readers familiar with another culture from other part of the globe.
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