Tajikistan Customs and Traditions
Tajiks are one of the most ancient peoples in the world. Archaeologists have dated settlements in the territory of today\’s Tajikistan date back to the end of the upper Paleolithic period, fifteen to twenty thousand years ago. The Tajiks have preserved many of the ancient traditions and customs of their ancestors. They have their own spoken language – a variety of Persian. Large families spanning several generations live together under one roof as the family and their farms and businesses reflect this prosperity and the welcome a guest receives reflects the legendary hospitality.
Tajiks living on the plateau have very unique wedding ceremonies. Most ethnic groups in Central Asia begin the wedding ceremony with the betrothal and arrangements made by the elders of the family, but a Tajik wedding is quite different. It lasts seven days! On the first day of the ceremony, the bride and the bridegroom proclaim their marriage and hold separate banquets with their own families, which continue for three days.
On the fifth day, the bridegroom, accompanied by friends and relatives, goes to his bride\’s home. There, the newlyweds make their commitment before an in imam, after which they must drink a cup of water and eat a bit of meat, cake and salt. This seals the marriage, and only then are they allowed to be together.
After that, the grand celebration begins. People sing and dance until midnight. Then the newlyweds ride to the bridegroom\’s home on a single horse. On the sixth day, the bride\’s family members arrive at the bridegroom\’s home and spend the night there, marking the end of the wedding.
The honeymoon period, on the other hand lasts 40 days spent under the same roof as the husband’s parents in order to protect the bride and groom at the start of the married life.
The major holidays in Tajikistan are religious ones such as Navruz, the Muslim New Year, which is celebrated at the spring equinox. It marks new life and new hopes for all who love and celebrate this holiday. Entire villages prepare for this festival, cooking dishes exclusive to this season – the tables full to bursting! The same goes for Qurban Eid when an average family might have seventy to eighty people visiting them a day, not including the children who come around in the early morning for sweets!
Sayri Guli Lola is the holiday of tulips, which includes accompanied choral and dance music. Poppies and tulips are native flowers in Tajikistan and were the source for the original Dutch tulips.
Traditional Tajik meals begin with sweet dishes such as halwa and tea, and then progress to soups and meat, before finishing with a pilaf. The Tajik national dish is kabuli pulao, a rice dish with shredded yellow turnip or carrot, meat, and olive oil or drippings.
Every meal is a ceremony. Tajiks treat food with great respect, especially bread, which is considered sacred. Bread must not be thrown or dropped on the floor, it should always be set carefully upright and broken carefully, not cut with a knife.
Tajikistan National dress
Because of the cold climate of the Pamir Plateau, the garments of Tajiks are mainly cotton-padded. Women wear bright-colored clothes and favor long skirts. When going outdoors, they wear kerchiefs, older women wearing white and younger ones yellow or green.
The men\’s caps look like small barrels, and are lined with black lamb skin. The lower brim is rolled up revealing the fur lining, which is both decorative and practical. They have an embroidered scarf around the waist called a rumol.
Prehistoric rock drawings have been found in more than fifty places in Tajikistan, many of which are in the Pamir mountain area. Some date from as far back as 1,000 B.C.
These drawings, either chipped out of the surfaces of granite rocks by means of a stone or scratched with a knife, depict hunting scenes, with mountain goats, yaks, deer, and the running hunters with bows and dogs.
The Dara area is also famous for its collection of petroglyphs. The four groups of rock drawings that have been discovered there show humans and ornaments.
Tea is often enjoyed at a local chaikhana – teahouse. The chaikhana is the place where men of all ages can gather and discuss issues that are important in their lives. Once a man has had his fill of tea, he turns his empty cup upside down in front of him as an indication that he does not wish to be asked to have more tea – and continues the discussion.
Tajik folk music includes a variety of songs, both lyrical and instrumental. There are those sung while working and ceremonial, funeral, and wedding songs. A special musical celebration marks the birth of a child. The national epic of the central Tajik heroic legend, Gurugli, is also set to music.
Tajikistan Applied and Decorative Arts
Fabric printing and textile weaving are among the most predominant handicrafts in Tajikistan. The range of woven fabrics is tremendous; brocade, alocha, zandona, bekasam, shokhi-kamus – in cotton, silk and wool, brightly dyed, elaborately embroidered or printed with the arbandy technique. Artistic embroidery finds its way onto wall hangings and carpets as well as silk headdresses.
Decorative carving of both stone and wood is evident everywhere, from everyday household objects to architectural features on mosques and monuments. Intricate geometric and floral patterns are most popular.