About Uzbekistan

Uzbek Carpets
14 September 2017
Uzbek Carpets

Every house in Uzbekistan is decorated with carpets. Though these days they will often be factory-made synthetic rugs from China, traditionally they would have been handwoven locally. Each community would have produced carpets in a distinctive style, and they were valued as much for their artistic qualities as for their functional properties. The largest single collection of carpets is thought to have belonged to the Emir of Bukhara: he had over 10,000 examples in his palace.

There are three main types of carpet produced in Uzbekistan: felt mats, flat-woven carpets and pile or tufted carpets. The first of these is the most ancient form, and would have first been produced by nomadic herders with surplus wool from their sheep. When wool is kneaded with soap and water, it becomes a thick, heavy felt that is not only warm but, as local legend has it, cannot be walked upon by a spider, nor crawled upon by a snake. It is either left in its natural colour (usually a cream or grey), or dyed with natural pigments such as indigo (for blue), moraine (red) and pomegranate bark (yellow). In desert areas, women also made similar rugs with camel hair.

It's not known exactly how long carpets have been woven in Uzbekistan, but archaeologists have found spindles in Stone Age sites that are similar to the wooden spindles still used in some rural areas of the country today. On the spindles you can spin a thick, coarse yarn that is required for julhirs, the loosely woven carpets still produced around Dzhizak and Nurata. Such carpets are often woven with a pattern of longitudinal stripes, edged with a chain of rhombuses and triangles. Modern flat-weave carpets can be woven from either woollen or cotton threads. The smooth surface is created by interlocking the warp (vertical) and weft (horizontal) threads. They are produced on a simple loom made from narrow, wooden beams. The width of the carpet strip is dictated by the width of the loom, but typically does not exceed 50cm. To make a wider carpet, therefore, several strips must be stitched together.The flat-weave carpets produced in Bukhara are considered to be the finest in the country; those from Surkhan Darya are unique in that the base threads are in two colours.

The most valuable carpets, however, are the tufted carpets. The finest fleece is used to produce their thread, and a thread count of 100 or more knots per centimetre is not uncommon. This makes the production process exceptionally time-intensive, and it requires an exceptionally high level of attention to detail; a single knot of the wrong colour in the wrong place will ruin months of work.

Though men do sometimes produce knotted carpets, it is generally considered a job for women as it helps to have small, deft hands. Women pass carpet-making techniques from mother to daughter, and it is still commonplace to see young girls working away at a loom. The warp threads are stretched on the loom, and onto these the weaver knots individual threads, hitting each one down with a metal hook so that it sits tightly alongside the previous knot.

Historically a small number of carpets were woven with golden thread and silk. Produced in Bukhara, Samarkand and Khiva for their respective courts, they became famous well beyond Uzbekistan and were prized as diplomatic gifts. Without imperial patronage, such carpets are increasingly rare.

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Did you know?

Uzbekistan is one of only two countries in the world to be ‘double landlocked’ (landlocked and totally surrounded by other landlocked countries). Liechtenstein is double landlocked by 2 countries whilst Uzbekistan is surrounded by 5!

Did you know that Uzbekistan lies in the very heart of Eurasia, the coordinates for Uzbekistan are 41.0000° N, 69.0000°

Uzbekistan is home to the Muruntan gold mine, one of the largest open pit gold mines in the world! The country has 4th largest reserves of gold in the world after South Africa, USA and Russia

Uzbekistan is the world capital of melons. They have in excess of 150 different varieties, which form a staple part of the local diet, served fresh in the summer and eaten dried through the winter.

It is Uzbek tradition that the most respected guest be seated farthest from the house’s entrance.

Tashkent’s metro features chandeliers, marble pillars and ceilings, granite, and engraved metal. It has been called one of the most beautiful train stations in the world.

The Uzbek master chef is able to cook in just one caldron enough plov to serve a thousand men.

When you are a host to someone, it is your duty to fill their cups with for the whole time they are with you.  What you must not do, however, is to fill their cup more than half-full.  If you do that as a mistake, say it is a mistake immediately.  Doing it means you want them to leave.  Wow!  Amazing, right?

To Uzbeks, respect means a whole lot.  For this reason they love it if, even as foreigners, you endeavour to add the respectful suffix opa after a woman's name; and aka after a man's.  Example: Linda-opa and David-aka.  You could also use hon and jon respectively.

Having been an historic crossroads for centuries as part of various ancient empires, Uzbekistan’s food is very eclectic. It has its roots in Iranian, Arab, Indian, Russian and Chinese cuisine.

Though identified with the Persia, the Zoroastrism probably originated in Bactria or Sogdiana. Many distinguished scholars share an opinion that Zoroastrianism had originated in the ancient Khorezm. Indeed, today in the world there were found 63 Zoroastrian monuments, including those in Iran, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Thirty-eight of them are in Uzbekistan, whereas 17 of these monuments are located in Khorezm.

One of Islam's most sacred relics - the world's oldest Koran that was compiled in Medina by Othman, the third caliph or Muslim leader, is kept in Tashkent. It was completed in the year 651, only 19 years after Muhammad's death. 

Tashkent is the only megapolis in the world where public transport is totally comprised of Mercedes buses. And due to low urban air polution it is one of the few cities where one can still see the stars in the sky.

You would be surprised to know that modern TV was born in Tashkent. No joke! The picture of moving objects was transmitted by radio first time in the world in Tashkent on 26 of July 1928 by inventors B.P. Grabovsky and I.F. Belansky.

Uzbekistan is the only country in the world all of whose neighbours have their names ending in STAN. This is also the only country in Central Asia that borders all of the countries of this region

Uzbeks are the third populous Turkik ethnicity in the world after Turks and Azeris (leaving both in Azerbaijan and Iran)

Did you know that there was silk money in Khiva? Super interesting right? Of course, but the best part of having silk money was that it could be sewn into your clothing.

Famous Islamic physician Ibn Sina (Avicenna in the Latin world) who was born near Bukhara was the one of the first people to advocate using women’s hair as suture material – about 1400 years ago.

Uzbekistan has a long and bloody history. The most notorious leader of Uzbekistan was Timur (or Tamerlane) who claimed descent from Genghis Khan. His military campaigns have been credited for wiping out some 5% of the world’s population at the time.

If you have thought that some of the Islamic architecture in Uzbekistan resembles that from Northern India, then that is because Timur’s great great great Grandson, Babur Beg, was the founder of the Moghul Empire that ruled much of India for almost four centuries! Babur’s great great Grandson was Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal.

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