Culture of Tajikistan

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The Culture of Tajikistan has developed over several thousand years. Historically, Tajik and Iranian culture comes from the same stock. Tajik culture can be divided into two areas, Metropolitan and Kuhiston(Highland). Ancient towns such as Bukhara, Samarkand, Herat, Balkh and Nishopur Khiva are no longer part of the country. More modern centres include Dushanbe (the capital), Khudjand, Kulob, Panjikent and Istarvshan.

Historical background

In order to understand Tajik culture it is necessary to look back to the time of Traxonia, (an area that lies between the Amu Darya and Sir Darya rivers and modern north-west Afghanistan), and the centres of civilization of the Nile, Mesopotamia and the banks of the Yangtze. The Tajiks' ancestors were from Scythean proto-Indo-European tribes who were nomads of the Eurasian steppes and were among the first to settle in Central Asia about 4000 years ago. Zoroaster, a preacher, started the worlds' first religion that worshipped Fire and the Sun. Zoroastrian principals had been exported and influenced other religions like Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism. Mani, another preacher, promoted the quasi religion Manichaesim, which held that all human beings are born equal and have equal potential regardless of their standing. These beliefs influenced other religions, particularly in the Samanid period.

Religion

Zoroaster, the prophet of Zoroastrianism, was born in the Balkh area, (northern Afghanistan and Transoxania) and was therefore Bactrian (the ancestors of the Tajiks). Zoroastrianism had been adopted by Persian Emperors as a state religion and was practiced during the Samanid era in central Asia until being overrun by the Arabs. The Shahs of Somoni made Bukhara their residence and a focal point for art and science as well as an administrative center. In this period, the personal interest and support of the Shahs in the arts and sciences, along with international trade, and the relatively stable political situation in the Silk-Road region, all contributed to Tajik art and science at its zenith.

The largest celebration to come from the pre-Islamic period is Navruz, which means "New Day". It is held on March 21 or 22, when the cultivation of the land starts. During Navruz, many families visit relatives, throw out old belongings, clean the house and play field games. Special dishes are also served. Other Pre-Islamic Tajik traditions like fire-jumping, dancing round the fire and fighting 'devils' with fire, still occur in the more remote regions.

A 1000 years after the Samanid period saw another cultural revival; this time due to the Soviets. They introduced modern drama, opera and ballet. Poets such as Mirzo Tursunzoda, Mirsaid Mirshakar and Loik Sherali, novelist and historian Sadridin Aini, all had input, as did professors M Ishoki and Osimi, scholar Sotim Ulughzoda, novelist Jalol Ikromi, and anthropologist and historian Bobojon Ghafurov. In 1969,Malika Sobirova won a gold medal in an international ballet competition.

Since independence, there has been a pre-Soviet cultural revival in an attempt to foster a sense of national identity. Novelist Taimur Zulfikarov and professors Rahim Masov and Bozor Sobir being prominent.

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