About Uzbekistan

Tea ceremony
07 July 2017
Tea ceremony

Uzbek people like to drink tea very much. This is not just a simple fact about statement of devotion of one country population, because Uzbek people's love for tea is something different than German's love to beer or Finn's love to coffee. It does not just like for tea, if they talk they drink tea, anyone who was in Uzbekistan can continue this file of associations for ever and ever.

"Uzbek Air Magazine", Winter 2005

Tea is the drink of hospitality, offered first to every guest, and almost always drunk from a piala (small bowl). From a fresh pot, the first cup of tea is often poured away (to clean the piala) and then a piala of tea is poured out and returned twice into the pot to brew the tea. A cup filled only a little way up is a compliment, allowing your host to refill it often and keep its contents warm (the offer of a full piala of tea is a subtle invitation that it’s time to leave).

Pass and accept tea with the right hand; it’s extra polite to put the left hand over the heart as you do this. If your tea is too hot, don’t blow on it, but swirl it gently in the cup without spilling any. If it has grown cold, your host will throw it away before refilling the cup.

Tea hospitality may seem totally different in Khorezm. Christopher Aslan Alexander describes a tea hospitality in his book "A carpet ride to Khiva":

"Always green and impossible to drink with their salty desert water. And do you know what?" She turned to a third woman who was sitting in rapt silence. "They give you your own teapot." This elicited an audible gasp. "Yes, they just leave the teapot beside you and expect you to pour yourself. The host does not even say "iching, iching", just leaves it for you to pour yourself."

Tea time

Chaikhana Etiquette

Teahouse or chaikhana, a time- honoured place for men to gather on carpeted dais and swap the latest news over chai and Uzbek favourites like shashlik, plov and laghman. To drink chai in a chaikhana is to follow a long and venerable Central Asian tradition. Hot green tea (kok chai in Uzbek; zilyoniy chai in Russian) not only quenches thirst and cools the body, it also aids the digestion of greasy foods.

Aboard the wooden dais (chorpoy in Uzbek, tapchan in Russian), be conscious of the great respect shown towards the round non bread. Before a family departure, like a son leaving for military service, he bites a fresh non which is hung up to safeguard his return, when he can finish it with his friends. At a meal, break the bread into pieces and share them round the table but never place non face-down, i.e. keep the patterned, seeded side uppermost. Never leave non on the ground or throw it away in public. Anyone who finds a piece on the ground should pick it up, kiss it and touch it to their forehead three times.

To study that part of their lives which is before the public eye, we must first pay a visit to the tea-booths, which are the resorts of all classes. The Bokhariot, and the remark applies indeed universally to all Central Asiatics, can never pass by a second or third tea-booth without entering, unless his affairs are very urgent indeed.

Vambery, Arminius; Sketches of Central Asia, (1868)

Tea should be brewed by pouring it three times into the piala cup and three times back into the pot. When pouring for the fourth time, do not fill another's cup to the brim (this signifies that it is time for him to leave) but instead pour less, more often. The first piala-full is normally used to wash and sterilize the cup and should be passed and received with the right hand. To cool the tea, swirling is preferred to blowing. A green, powdered tobacco known as noz is also taken at teahouses, skilfully shovelled under the tongue, rendering attempts at even basic communication almost futile.

At the end of a meal, when passing a mausoleum/cemetery, or starting a journey, the fatiha-the Muslim gesture of holding out cupped palms to receive God's blessings, and then running hands over one's face-is generally performed as a sign of thanks and blessing.

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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.

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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