Saturday, December 22, 2007

Uzbekistan - Jewel of Central Asia

I've always been fascinated by the beauty of Asian carpets and the skill necessary to weave such treasures. I remember seeing a large, Persian silk carpet that took five generations of one family's life to produce. That is old-world dedication to tradition and quality, a favorite subject on this blog. The ancient Silk Road that introduced Asian treasures to Europe and the west runs through Central Asia, for years shrouded in the haze of the Russian communist revolution and territorial expansion. With the demise of the old Soviet Union, Central Asia is coming into its own again and opening up to the west.

The jewel of Central Asia, its biggest country, is Uzbekistan. Home to Tamerlane, the 14 century military genius and conquerer, Uzbekistan has some of the most exotic and picturesque cities in the region: Samarkand, Tashkent, Khiva and Bukhara. Even the names are exotic, and the architecture is simply stunning.

Blogging has opened many doors for the author and delivered countless new friends and opportunities. In that regard, I have discovered a really wonderful photoblog that is a chronicle of the travels of a very interesting Romanian accountant. His photos of the cities along the Silk Road, especially those in Uzbekistan, are great and very much worth browsing. I had hoped to use some of his fine pics in this post, but alas, he has not given me permission to do so and thus I am relying (as usual) on Wikipedia's comprehensive collection of public domain images. You'll just have to surf on over to Hoinarescu's blog, Creaga Pe Coclauri, and take a look at his images - which are more numerous and much better than Wikipedia's offerings. Make sure and click on his November "archive" for images of Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan is also home to one of my favorite new world-beat artists, Sevara Nazarkhan. A recipient of the BBC's Best Asian Artist award, Sevara has literally put Uzbek folk and popular music on the map. And she's very beautiful, in an exotic sort of way. I've always thought that Uzbeks actually look a combination of their Mongol, Turkic and Persian ancestors. Nazarkhan has a number of really excellent music videos, that are often featured on LINK TV (for those of you with Satellite).

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