Uzbekistan


Figure 1.--his photo was taken between 1905 and 1915 in Samarqand the third-largest city in Uzbekistan. The city is most noted for its central position on the Asian Silk Road between China and the west. The image shows a bread vendor. One suspects that a similar scene could have been photographed a 1,000 years earlier.

Much of central Asia was conquered by the expanding Tsarist Empire (mid-19th century). It was likecgoing backn in time. Life throughout Central Asia was little changed for centuries. Much of the areea was inhabited by several ethnic hroups eakling out a living through a nomadic hearding existence. Uzbeck boys have worn traditional clothes, but the Russians who came to Uzbekistan wear modern European-styled clothes. Uzbekistan is one of the central Asian countries created from the Soviet Union in 1992. It is a very new country with an ancient tradition. Boys have worn traditional clothes, but the russians who came to Uzbekistan wear modern European-styled clothes. Although Uzbekistan was not independent until 1992, for organizational simplicity we are archiving Tsarist and Soviet Uzbek images under Uzbekistan.

Geography

Uzbekistan is today an independent country in central Asia. It is drained by the Amu Darya and the Sid Darya Rivers. The west id dominated by the Kizil Kum desert. Fertile lands are located in the east, including the Fergana Valley and a number of important oasis (Khiva, Tashkent, Samarkand, and Bukhara. Important cities are centered in these oasis.

History

Famed Samarkand was captured by Aleander the Great (4th century BC). Modern Uzbekistan is the location of ancient Sogdiana. The Arabs conquered the area (712 AD). Samarkhand becoming an Islamic center of learning. Samarkand was almost destroyed by Genghis Kahn and the Mongols (1219). Samarkand became the capital of Timur's kingdom and his tomb is located there. Samarkand became an important commercial, intellectual, and spiritual center on the Silk Road from Europe to China. The Uzbeks, a remanent of the Golden Horde, seized control (16th century). Subsequently the area broke up into separate principalities (Khiva, Korkand, and Bukhara). All of West Turkestan was incorporated into Tsarist Russian hands (1875-76). The Soviets after the Revolution and Civil War seized control and established Uzbekistan as a constituent republic. Samarkhand, once the capital, became simply a principal city of the Soviet Uzbek Republic. The capital was established at Tashkent. There was a European and native section.

Economics


Chronology

Famed Samarkand was captured by Aleander the Graet (4th century BC). Modern Uzbekistan is the location of ancient Sogdiana. The Arabs conquered the area (712 AD). Samarkhand becoming an Islamic center of learning. Samarkand was almost destroyed by Genghis Kahn and the Mongols (1219). Samarkand became the capital of Timur's kingdom and his tomb is located there. Samarkand became an important commercial, intellectual, and spiritual center on the Silk Road from Europe to China. The Uzbeks, a remanent of the Golden Horde, seized control (16th century). Subsequently the area broke up into separate principalities (Khiva, Korkand, and Bukhara). All of West Turkestan was incorporated into Tsarist Russian hands (1875-76). The Soviets after the Revolution and Civil War seized control and established Uzbekistan as a constituent republic. Samarkhand, once the capital, became simply a principal city of the Soviet Uzbek Republic. The capital was established at Tashkent. There was a European and native section.

Ethnic Diversity

The Uzbeks are a Muslim people speaking a Turkic language and with a strongly Persian-related culture. Multiple ethnic groups live together in this country. This includes several Central Asian groups (Tajiks, Kazakhs, Kirghizes, Uygures, and Dungans) This is to a large extent the result of Uzbeckistan's history. Samarknd and other cities were located location on the Silk Road. As a commercial and intelectual center, Samarkand developed a remarkably diverse population. Population diversity increased evenn more as a result of incorporation in the Russian Empire and Soviet Union. Bioth while dominated by Russia were larger multi-eyhnic empires. Thus there are many Russians as well as other Eastern Europeans (Byelorussians, Germans, Greeks, Jews, Lithuanians, Poles, Ukrainians as well as Tatars, an Asian people living in Europe. s there are Asians from bith the Middle Wast and Far East (Azerbaijanis, Armenians, Chechens, Georgians, Iranians, Koreans, Ossetians, and Turks. Uzbeckistan has retained its ethnic diversity up to the present, but it is declining. Many Russians and other non-Uzbecks left Uzbeckistan at the time of independence nd more have left over time.

Uzbeks

Many native Uzbecks were nomadic hearders. Famed Russian photographer Prokudin-Gorskii has left us wonderful images of Uzbeck nomads along with their rich carpets and yurt in the early-20th century.

Jewish Community

There was a Jewish community in central Asia, although the origins are poorly documented. The central Asian Jews may well pre-date European Jewery. The Jewish community of Uzbeckistan may date from the destruction of the Temple and the Babylonian captivity. Or it may date from the Persian Empire that followed. Cyrus allowed the Jews to return to Palestine, but not all did. There were Jewish community within the Persian Empire. Laws about religion varied, but on the whole the Persians were tolerant toward conquered people as long as they accepted Persian authority. Of course Jews would only had to be concerned with the Persians, but with the laws and traditions of the principlities in which they lived, many of which were less tolerant than the Persians. The best known and probably oldest Jewish community in Uzbeckistan is that of Bukhara. Its origins are not documented, but it may be over 2,000 years old. Legends adscribe its origins to variously. One repor suggests Jews fleeing from persecution in Persia about 1,500 years ago. Others suggest more recent origins, merchants on the Silk Road (7th century AD). Uzbek Jews were mostly city dwealers, mostly artisans and merchants, since laws prohibited land ownership. Jews survived the various invasions that swept over the region (Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, the Sardians, the Qarakhanids, the Seljuks, the Persians, the Turks, and the Chinese). The Jews of Central Asia were for the most part not vicuiously percecuted by the Muslims as was the case in European Christendom. The famed Tsarist photographer Prokudin-Gorskii in 1911 captured a remarable image of a group of Jewish boys, in traditional dress, studying with their teacher (figure 1).

Dance

A HBC reader has provided some information about dance and song in Usbekistan and parts of Turkestan and North Afghanistan among the Uzbeks and other people. Boys were usually sent by their fathers to become learn dance. Some parents declined to do so. Boys were normally sent at ages 12-16, but there were bos as old as 18 years of age. They are reported from late 19th century on by Western and Soviet travellers. They were thaught by masters and there would be bets to them in an event called bacabozlic (boy game) from the male audience. Although it was officially not allowed a quarter to a half of the male population visited by Baldauf took part in it. The boys songs dealt with love (there were different versions during performance and aggressive ones). One author believes this was because boys couldn't cope beeing dressed up like girls. [Bladauf]. These dancing boys were last reported in northern Afghanistan during the 1970s.

Schools

We know little about early education in Uzbekistan. Uzbek officials point to a Chinese scholar, Suan Tsan, who reported 5-year old boys in Samarkand being taught how to read, write and count. These boys then persued business and trade on silk road caravans. We have little information about education in the ensuing 1,000 yesrs but education appears to have been very limited, confined primarily to Islamic madrassas. Girls were not educated at all. Boys at the madrassas memmorized Koranic verses and other Islamic texts. Lessons were primarily chanting verses and boys who did not learned the verses were beaten. The Russian invasion (1868) brought modern education to Uzbekistan for the first time. The Russian Revolution brought a atheism campaign. Islam and other religions were percecuted and madreasses were shut down. The education of girls was promoted. Uzbekistan became independent after the disolution of the Soviet Union (1992). One of the first laws passed by independent Uzbekistan was the Education Law (June l992). Uzbekistan today has a very young population as a result of a high birth rate, a reflection of the country's still rural population. The Government reports that children, teenagers, and young people under the age of 25 comprise approximately 60 percent of the total population. The authoritarian Government, however, has mismanaged the economy. Only limited funds are available to finance a nodern education system and few jobs are beding created for graduates as a result of the country's boribund population. There are about 1 million kindergarten children and 5 million school children. About one-third of the primary children go on to academic secondary schools or trade sdchools.

Sources

Baldauf, Ingeborg. Die Knabenliebe in Mittelasien (Bacabozlik. Berlin, 1988).





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Created: May 11, 2001
Last updated: 1:27 PM 10/20/2012