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Discovery Uzbekistan Travel Guide #14/2010

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Since the Neolithic and Bronze Ages, Boysun has been at the crossroads between Bactria and Sogd. The Akhaemenid, Greek, Kushan, Hepthalite, Samanid, Karakhanid, Ghaznevid and Khorezmshah empires have all left their traces. Alexander, Chenghis Khan, the Arabs, Amir Temur, Babur, and their armies all passed through here.

The traditional world of Boysun
The remoteness and complex mountain terrain of Boysun have helped preserve the traditional way of life. The harvest still depends on aryk irrigation from mountain streams and springs. Due to the inaccessibility of the region, old-fashioned ploughs are generally used. Grazing patterns have not changed in a thousand years. Livestock are still the main measure of wealth, and gardening is a male tradition. Hand spinning wheels, graters, tandirs, water mills, and blacksmiths using bellows all still exist. National clothes are made, such as tubeteiki (traditional hats) and chapans (traditional coats) for men, and headscarves and dresses for women, using craft traditions and local ornamental decorations dating from the tenth to eleventh centuries. Life revolves around the family, the mahallya (the local community), the kishlak, nature, the spiritual world of Islam and superstitions.

The spiritual world of Boysun is reflected in its folklore: music and song, games and dances, epic stories and the art of the bakhshi (bard), tales and legends. The heroic Uzbek epic poem Alpamysh originated here. In Central Asia, the epics of the famous Boysun-born bakhshi Shoberdi Boltaev are well known. He performs dastans in the throat manner accompanied by the dombra. Traditional ensembles of musical instruments of Boysun perform at weddings (karnai and surnai) and traditional celebrations. In folklore performances, male dancing is prominent, including the battle dance (sarbozch), a dance with a sword.

National holidays
Navruz, the first furrow, tulip gathering, the harvest festival and other festivities are celebrated throughout Boysun. They are the occasion for performing many games and rituals based on hunting, farming and herding, crafts, and the lunar and solar calendars. Navruz takes place on the spring equinox, celebrating the awakening of nature and the beginning of farming. It is marked by a big procession, festival bazaars, performances by native maskaraboz actors, kurash wrestling and the horseback kupkari sport. Traditional dishes such as sumalak and baursak are eaten. Since 2002 the "Boysun Bahori" Open Folklore Festival has been held every year at the end of spring, with the support of UNESCO and the Uzbek government.

Artistic textiles
The main types of artistic textiles are striped cloth embroidery, carpet weaving and pressed felt carpets. Ethno-cultural specifics of traditional culture are expressed in the bright colours, character of ornamentation and composition of details in embroidery. Suzanhis (embroidered cloths) are made for brides' dowries. The Boysun exhibition bases its main collection of embroidery on pieces from the 1960s to today. But there are also unique samples from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Similar to the Urgut and Samarkand schools, Boysun embroidery is noted for the depictions of farming and nomadic cultures, and the interplay of Uzbek and Tajik components.

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