About Uzbekistan

The ceramics bazaar and the tomb of the Sufi Khizr Buva in Boston
22 December 2017

Those who want to get to the largest ceramics market in Uzbekistan should head to Boston – this is not a mistake, and this is not a city of Massachusetts in the United States. Due to peculiarities of modern Uzbek Latin transcription Fergana Buston, or Bustan bears the same name in writing as an American city, but Fergana’s Buston is just a village famed only for its pottery bazaar and Hizir Buva Mazar (shrine).

The place might be tricky to find for the new comers as there are a dozen of Bustons in the region with at least five only in Uzbekistan. So not to be confused here are the main landmarks - the Big Fergana Canal between the town of potters Rishtan and Kokand. There are frequent buses going through Bustan between Kokand and Rishtan. If you plan to come from Ferghana then you’d rather take a shared taxi or firstly go by bus from Fergana to Rishtan (around 2$) and then catch a minibus-Damas from Rishtan to Bustan (15 cents).

Fergana Buston

A bridge across the Great Fergana Canal between Rishtan and Bustan.

the Great Fergana Canal

Bustan with its ceramics bazaar on the way to Kokand. You can find here all type of ceramics produced in Uzbekistan. Famed Rishtan pottery made of red clay, handmade Gijduvan pottery, porcelain pialas and kettles from Namangan. If you are coming here without a fixed idea of what you need exactly you will get stuck here for sure for many hours for not being able to choose among so many lucrative options. The prices are damned cheap and you can still bargain. This is the East in the end. 

The dish in the style of "Rishtan psychedelic" is only a thousandth part of the Bustan bazaar.

Factory porcelain with traditional ‘pahta’ (cotton) ornament. These type of teapots are spread in Uzbekistan literally everywhere, in every house and every cafe. A truly traditional Uzbek souvenir.

As with ceramics, china is also sold here, from Andijan or Namangan. In the Kyrgyz part of the Fergana Valley everything is different: pialas in the markets of Osh and Uzgen are almost all from China. They are very similar in style but even an amateur will spot the difference.

Streets of Bustan on the approach to the Khizir Buva Mazar. That’s how it looks in the early morning, when there are no pilgrims, no traders.

There is not a lot of information about the local saint. Local people say that Khoja Khizir Buva was a Sufi, he lived here "very long time ago" and was buried here. There are some local legends and stories where the Sufi is described as an old man with a white beard, coming to help in the tragic moments.

The famous ceramics master from Rishtan Alisher Nazirov has another story: Khizir Buva was so generous that now he fulfills the wishes of those who pray at his grave.

There is also the belief that the saint did not die and still, like the Chechen sheik Kunta-Haji, is coming to people. There can be seven such meetings in a lifetime of each person. People say: if you meet a white-bearded old man and shake his hand, you need to feel his thumb – Hizir’s thumb is soft and has no  bones. One needs to grab this finger and make a wish - it will certainly come true. "But whether this true or not, I do not know", - Alisher-aka immediately makes reservations.

The Tomb of Khizir Buva is also called Baraka mazar - a sacred place where they pray for prosperity and fertility. They come here to pray mostly before sowing. The main pilgrimage takes place on Safar, the second month of the Muslim calendar. For the ziyarat they come from all Ferghana valley and from other regions of Uzbekistan.

This is how the mazar looks from the street. Strangely enough, from the outside it is seen much better than from the courtyard.

From inside the mazar is surrounded by private houses with typical Ferghana courtyards with an area of half a football field. It is hard to determine where the yard ends and the place of pilgrimage begins – even locals find it tricky to explain.

(On the left - one of the two entrances to the territory of the mazar)
(On the left - one of the two entrances to the territory of the mazar)

This is the yard closest to the Mazar. It's still morning. It is much more interesting to come here during the day when the mazar is full of people.

Residents of neighboring houses are not only accustomed to pilgrims, but also make some business on them - they cook pilaf and sell rosaries and other near-religious trifles.

Prayer by the tomb. Who knows what kind of help these women ask?

Here you also witness another interesting tradition - female fortune-telling on molten lead. The required attribute of the rite is lead planks, which are a bit larger than the 1 pound coin. In Uzbek they are called "kurgashin" ("lead"). These pieces are melted from car batteries and sold at the Mazar for couple of cents apiece.

"Kurgashin" is melted on the fire of a gas burner, after which a fortune teller pours the metal into the bowl with water and predicts the fate by the resulting clot. Fortune telling here is ‘only for women’ procedure, very ancient (practiced even before the advent of Islam) and is held once a year.

More news about Uzbekistan

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07 February 2018
Bukhara. Part VIII: From madrasah to madrassas by back streets

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03 May 2018
Bukhara Part IX: New City

Bukhara would not be a regional center if it was limited by Old City only and would not be one of the centers of ancient civilization, even if its outskirts were not dotted with antiquities. Namazgoh Mosque, from which Genghis Khan spoke to local residents; Russian church, transformed from a closed railway station; interesting Soviet architecture and mostly non-Soviet general view, and khan's summer palace of Mohy-Khosa outside Bukhara - there are still a lot of places to explore.

05 May 2018
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.

Uzbekistan was once a rum producig country. There is still a real arboretum in Denau (city near Termez on the border with Afghanistan), grown from a selection station that studied the prospects of plant growing in the unusual for the Soviet Union subtropical climate of Surkhandarya region: only here in the whole of the USSR sugar cane was grown and even rum was produced!

Uzbekistan has been ranked one of the safest countries in the world, according to a new global poll. The annual Gallup Global Law and Order asked if people felt safe walking at night and whether they had been victims of crime. The survey placed Uzbekistan 5th out of 135 countries, while the UK was 21st and the US 35th. Top five safest countries:

  • Singapore
  • Norway
  • Iceland
  • Finland
  • Uzbekistan
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