Culture. Uzbekistan has one of the brightest and original cultures of the Orient. It is inimitable national music, dances and painting, unique national kitchen and clothes. The Uzbek national music is characterized as variety of subjects and genres. The songs and tool plays according to their functions and forms of usage can be divided into two groups: performed in the certain time and under the certain circumstances and performed at any time. The songs connected with customs and traditions, labor processes, various ceremonies, dramatized entertainment representations and games belong to the first group.
The Uzbek people is well-known for its songs. "Qoshiq" - household song with a small diapason melody, covering one or two rows of the poetic text. The dancing character of a melody of this genre provides their performance in support of comic dances. "Lapar" is a dialogue-song. In some areas the term - lapar is applied to wedding songs "Ulan" (which is performed as a dialogue of man and women). Genre "yalla" includes two kinds of songs: a melody of a narrow range, and solo simultaneously with dance. National and professional poems of the poets of East are used as the texts for the songs. The special place in the Uzbek musical heritage occupy "dastans" (epic legends with lyric-heroic content). Also "Maqoms"- are the basic classical fund of professional music of oral tradition.
The dances of Uzbeks distinguish softness, smoothness and expressiveness of movements, easy sliding step, original movements on a place and on a circle.
The development of national painting began many centuries ago. At 16-17 centuries art of the manuscript and binding in Bukhara and some other urban centers has achieved significant success. The decorating of manuscript included refined calligraphy, performance by water paints and thin ornaments on fields. In Samarkand and especially in Bukhara the Central Asian school of a miniature has achieved a great success and were developed many different style directions. One of them, for example is connected with traditions of Behzod, which characterized with its gentle style of writing the letter and architectural elements.
National clothes. The Uzbek national clothes of the end of XIX century partially remain up these days. The men in that time carried a direct cover shirts, bottom and top dressing gowns. The dressing gowns were very light and made from cotton wool. There were cuts on each side of dressing gown for convenience at walking. The trousers were made wide, of direct breed lent from top to bottom. Female clothes were: dressing gowns, dress, "parandja" - also of wide breed.
Crafts. Culture, handicrafts and tourism are rapidly becoming inseparable partners. Local crafts are important elements of culture, and people travel to see and experience other cultures, traditions and ways of living. Crafts products form an important element of the purchases made by tourists, providing an important economic input to the local economy.
Applied art of Uzbeks has a wealth of variety when it comes to style, materials and ornamentation. Silk, ceramics and cotton weaving, stone and wood carving, metal engraving, leather stamping, calligraphy and miniature painting are some genres passed down from ancient times. Back in the past, each region had its own cultural and ethnic traditions the unique features of which were established by local guilds that have strengthened these characteristics through their art.
Uzbek craftsmen nowadays still practice ancient jewellery making techniques for cutting gemstones, grain filigree, granular work, engraving and enamelling, also they are trying to take into account fashion demands and styles.
Embroidery is one of the most popular trends of applied arts in Uzbekistan. Every city of Uzbekistan has its own unique features such as ornamentation, composition, colour range and stitching. The finest kind of embroidery, gold embroidery is still practised in Bukhara.
The art of carpet weaving is also a very ancient form of art throughout Asia, and nowadays it can be found in some of the cities of Uzbekistan today. The art of wood carving is used and adapted in modern interior design. Carved and painted tables, stools, caskets, pencil boxes and bookstands are popular pieces of furniture among local people and tourists. The art of Miniature painting and calligraphy has been revived again in its traditional form as well as some modern variants. For example miniatures stamped on leather, painted on paper miniatures, small lacquered boxes, framed pictures, pencil boxes and many other ideas skilfully painted by masters can be found in Uzbekistan.
Cuisine. Uzbek cuisine is one of the most colourful of Oriental cuisines. You will get astounded to find some of Uzbek recipes to be centuries-old. They even have different traditional rituals and ways of cooking. There are about 1,000 different dishes including national drinks, cakes and confectionary products.
Uzbek "Pilaf" is a very solemn food. It can be considered as an everyday dish as well as a dish for solemn and great events like weddings, parties and holidays. Rice is the most important ingredient of pilaf and special spices, raisins, or peas will be added to give it extra flavour. However, locals believe that the best pilaf is always prepared by a man! Salads are also served along with pilaf.
Bread is holy for Uzbek people. This traditional belief started with a legend. As it goes, each new Governor would mint his own coins but the payment for local people who minted new coins were not the coins that were minted but…bread!
Traditionally Uzbek breads are baked inside the stoves made of clay called "Tandyr". These fragrant breads are known to be crispy and tasty. Even the greatest scientist of medicine, Avicenna used Uzbek bread to cure people of diseases.
A special importance is placed on soups. Uzbek soup is rich in vegetables and seasonings and contains lots of carrots, turnips, onions and greens. Two popular soups are Mastava and Shurpa.
Religions and freedom of conscience in Uzbekistan
The Republic of Uzbekistan, being a member of the international community, bears full responsibility regarding support of different faiths. The Article 18 of the Constitution of Uzbekistan fixed that all citizens of our country have the same rights and freedoms, and are equal without distinction by gender, race, nationality, language, religion, origin, belief, personal and a social status. The Constitution guarantees the rights of citizens for freedom of conscience. Everyone has the right to profess any religion or not profess any. Forced propagation of religious views is inadmissible (Article 31).
The Law “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations” adopted on the 1 May 1998 defines in detail the role and status of the religious organizations and unions, as well as their relations with state bodies.
Nowadays, there are more than 2,2 thousand religious organizations representing 16 denominations that have legal registration in Uzbekistan. Naturally, the overwhelming majority - 2042 or 92% of total - are Muslim organizations, as approximately 88% of population in Uzbekistan consider themselves as followers of Islam. Besides, 164 Christian organizations, 8 Jewish communities, 6 Bahai communities, 1 Krishna society and 1 Buddhist temple are also represented in the country.
The state adheres to the following principles in regard of religious organizations:
-respectful attitude to religious feelings of the believers;
-recognition of religious views as a private affair of the citizens or their associations;
-ensuring the equal rights and inadmissibility of prosecution of the citizens for both professing religious views and not professing them;
-dialogue with various religious associations aimed to engaging of their opportunities in the sphere of spiritual revival, strengthening of universal moral values;
-recognition of inadmissibility of usage of religion in destructive purposes.
Uzbekistan is a secular state and the Government does not differentiate between religious organizations due to their size or popularity in the country. All religious organizations – whether they are larger organization like Administration of Muslims of Uzbekistan and the Tashkent and Central Asian Diocese of Russian Orthodox Church, or the small single religious organizations – have similar rights and obligations.
Believers of Uzbekistan freely celebrate all religious holidays. That is why, year-by-year and in a wide scale, Muslims celebrate Id al-Adha and Id al-Fitr, Christians - Easter and Christmas, Jews – Pesach, Purim and Hanukkah. By the decrees of the President of Uzbekistan, Id al-Adha and Id al-Fitr are announced as the national holidays.
During Independence years, thousands of citizens of Uzbekistan have had the opportunity to carry out Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, visit sacred places for Christians and Jews in Russia, Greece and Israel. Pilgrims are provided with comprehensive help by the State, including organization of special flights, medical services, concessionary airfare, support with visa formalities and etc.
Hundreds of mosques, churches and meeting-houses, including Khazrati Imam Complex in Tashkent, Orthodox temples in Tashkent, Samarkand and Navoi, Catholic church in Tashkent, the Armenian apostolic church in Samarkand were constructed and restored with support of the Government.
The Tashkent Islamic University was established in September 1999 on the initiative of the President of Uzbekistan. The system of religious training also consists of the Tashkent Islamic Institute, 10 madrasas, Orthodox and Protestant seminaries.
During the years of Independence, the Sacred Koran, 16 books of the Old Testament, as well as the whole New Testament were translated into the Uzbek language and published in the country.
In 2004 the Administration of Muslims of Uzbekistan together with the Republican Blinds Society had presented the Sacred Koran printed in Braille script. Uzbekistan became the third state in the world which has carried out this good deed. Nowadays, around 24 thousand citizens, deprived of possibility to see the world with their eyes, reside in our country. From this time special boarding schools, public libraries, as well as all interested persons could be provided with copies of the Koran in Braille script.
The State creates conditions to inter-religious peace and harmony in Uzbekistan. The Council of Congregations was established under the Committee for Religious Affairs to promote close cooperation with the religious organizations, provide assistance for different religious communities in their activities and in mutual development of measures for ensuring inter-religious and interethnic peace and harmony of society.
Rich intellectual heritage of the people of Uzbekistan, its ancient cultures and religions attract the interest of the international community. The Government promotes increase of foreign visits to Uzbekistan, so the guests can familiarize themselves with dynamic development of the country.
In 1995 there was organized the Christian-Muslim Conference "To live together under the one sky" in Tashkent. Representatives of the World Council of Churches and some other foreign churches took part in this forum.
There were held two significant events in 1996:
1) in November, the 125th anniversary of the Tashkent and Central Asian Diocese of Russian Orthodox Church. To celebrate this date, for the first time in the history, the Moscow and All Russia Patriarch Alexy II arrived to Central Asia;
2) in December, the Evangelic-Lutheran community of Uzbekistan celebrated 100-years anniversary of the only Lutheran Kirha in Central Asia.
In 2001 Tashkent and Central Asian Diocese celebrated its 130th anniversary.
In 2002 the Tashkent Catholic Church celebrated the 100th anniversary of the revival of Catholicism in the Central Asia.
Samarkand held events on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Apostolic Church in October 2003.
In may 2007 the seminar “Experience of Uzbekistan in achieving of inter-religious harmony” was organized in London by the Three Faiths Forum with support of the Embassy of Uzbekistan. Vice Chairman of Uzbekistan Board of Muslims Sheikh Azizjon Mansur, Vice-Chancellor of the Tashkent Orthodox Christian Seminary Father Sergey Statsenko and Vice-Chairman of the Tashkent Jewish Religious Community Dr Roman Bensman gave a detailed picture of interreligious dialogue and cooperation in our country. Participants included HM Marshal of Diplomatic Corps, representatives of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Embassies of USA, Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, as well as academics from several British universities.
Muslims, Christians, Jews and followers of other religions have a thousand years history of co-existence, mutual tolerance, assistance and solidarity. Today, it is obvious that these inter-religious peace and harmony were preserved and further strengthened during Independence years in Uzbekistan.
Press release "On Christian Organizations in Uzbekistan" dated 30 September 2010
|Khazrati Imam Mosque
|Roman Catholic Church
||Russian Orthodox Church