Living in Uzbekistan

Traditional Culture

Customs and Traditions

Major features of the nature of Uzbek family are hospitality and traditionally honored respect for elderly people. The Uzbeks normally live in large families, consisting of several generations, therefore, preference is given to big houses with land plots. As an element of hospitality, tea ceremony plays significant role in everyday life. Making tea and pouring out to guests is an exclusive prerogative of the host. Its a general rule to accept always invitations for lunch or dinner and come on time. Heading to visit somebodys house, its desirable to get some souvenirs or sweets for the children of the host. Shaking each other hands while greeting can be accepted only between men. Greeting women and persons sitting in distance takes place through putting right hand to ones heart and accompanying this gesture by slight inclination of ones head. During handshake, they wonder about your health, state of your business or work, at home. In rural areas, in case of visit of guest, women normally do not seat at the same table with men in order not to interfere with their talk. Its not accepted to admire the beauty of women and to pay at them narrowly attention. Entering into living quarters, one needs to take off his/her shoes. He/she should take the seat cited by the host. And the farther this seat from entrance is, the more honorary it is.


Rites of Uzbek people have been formed for centuries as a result of heavy process of merging of cultural habits and traditions of all tribes and ethnicities, which participated in ethno-genesis of Uzbeks. They are very distinctive, bright and manifold, they go back to generic-tribal patriarchal relationships. Multitudes of rites accompany family life and are connected with birth and upbringing of a child, weddings, funerals. Rites connected with birth and upbringing of a child (beshik tuyi - cradle wedding, hatna qilish-circumcision), marriage (fotiha tuyi - wedding) play special role. Often, they represent interlacing of Islamic ritual with ancient forms, connected with magical practices. After adoption of Islam many family and life traditions underwent its influence, and therefore, Muslim religious rites entered into life of Uzbeks. Friday is a Holiday which is celebrated in cathedral mosques by joint Namaz (prayer). Patriarchal traditions continued its existence in public life which concentrated in mosque, choyhona (tea house), on bazaar and which were attended exclusively by male population.


The most important national holiday is the Independence Day celebrated on the 1 of September. Every year, on 8 December, to commemorate adoption of new Constitution of Independent Uzbekistan in 1992, the country celebrates Constitution Day. Like in many other countries, the 9th May is marked with celebration of Memorial and Ceremonial Day. Such Muslim Holidays as Ramazon Hayit and Qurbon Hayit are also broadly celebrated. Qurbon Hayit is one of the most significant Muslim holidays. This day, after corresponding rituals, believers pay a visit or welcome guests, help the ill/single people, show charity for neighbors and relatives. Wonderful Ramazon Hayit, connected with the end of the month of Ramadan, marks spiritual and moral purification. It starts upon the expiration of 30days of Ramadan, which according to Islamic rules falls on the 9th month of Muslim Year of Hidjra. This day, believers pray for dead, pay a visit to the ill/elderly people, devote themselves to charity and other good deeds.


The most ancient Peoples Holiday ("Navruz bairami") is celebrated on 21 March, the day of vernal equinox. This Holiday marks awakening of nature and beginning of sowing, which preserved in its ritual features of Zoroastrian. Every spring, agricultural oasis of ancient Uzbekistan organized big festivals, holiday bazaars. Traditionally, still, families bake the biscuit "bughirsoq" and cook ritual meal sumalak. After celebration, normally, people start field works, which in the past also were accompanied by different rites: before going out to the field, horns and neck of ox and bulls were lubricated by the oil. The first furrow is made by the most respected and oldest member of the commune. For years of state independence, celebration of Navruz gained new scope and depth. It became all-national holiday of friendship, unity, brotherhood of all ethnicities. The bright dramatized performances reveal philosophic and poetic comprehension of Navruz, its role in the peoples history.


The culture of Uzbekistan is one of the brightest and the most distinctive cultures of the East. Its inimitable folk music, dances and paintings, unique cuisine and clothes. 

Uzbek folk music creation can be defined by the multitude of the themes and variety of genres. Songs and instrumental plays in accordance with their functions and forms of existence could be divided into two groups: performed at certain time and under certain circumstances and those performed at any time. The first group includes songs connected with rituals, labor processes, different ceremonies, dramatized spectacular stages, games.

Uzbek people are popular with their songs. Qushiq is the song of manners of couplet structure with the melody of small diapason, which cover one or two verses of poetic text. Lapar and yalla, are also songs of couplet structure, have number of common features with qushiq. Dancing nature of the melody of this genre envisages performance accompanied by comic dances. Lapar is the dialogue song. In Khorazm, they call it songs performed by one singer. In some districts, the definition Lapar is used to call wedding songs Ulan (performed as dialogue of man with woman). The Genre Yalla includes two types of songs: melody of narrow diapason, while introduction is solo at the same time with dance. Folk and professional poems of the poets of the East serve as poetic texts for songs. The most developed examples of ashula in their essence are the genre of professional music of oral tradition. Dustons, epical legends of lyrical-heroic content play special role in Uzbek musical heritage. Maqoms comprise major classical fund of professional music of oral tradition.

Dances in different provinces of Uzbekistan differ from each other. Dances of Farghona group are distinguished by mildness, smoothness and expressiveness of movements, light, sliding step, original movements on the spot and on the circle. People in Khorazm and Bukhoro dance qayroqs (castanets). 

Developmentofnationalpaintingstartedmanycenturiesago. In XVI-XVII centuries, in metropolitan Bukhoro, and some other urban cores, significant successes were achieved in manuscripts and bookbinding. Artistic design of the manuscript included refined calligraphy, executed with aquatic paints thin ornamental patterns on fields. In Samarqand and especially in Bukhoro, Central Asian school of miniature reached flowering. 

Thereweredevelopedseveralstyledirections. One of them is connected with traditions of Behzod (the great medieval artist, the founder of one of directions of eastern miniature), is distinguished by the refinement of the letter and architectural backgrounds.

National clothes

The style of Uzbek traditional dress remainsunchanged up to the present day. The men wear shirts andtrousers topped off by dressing gowns (khalat.). The gowns are very light and made from cotton. They have vents cut on each side of the robe to expedite walking. The trousers are cut wide. Female clothes include dressing gowns and brightly patterned dresses.


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. Craft products form an important element of purchases made by tourists and provide an important economic addition to local economies.

Uzbekapplied arts have a variety of wealth when it comes to style, materials and ornamentation. Silk, ceramics and cotton weaving, stone and wood carving, metal engraving, leather working, calligraphy and miniature painting are some of the techniques passed down from generation to generation. In the past, each region had its own cultural and ethnic traditions, the unique features of which were established by local guilds that strengthened these characteristics through their art.

Uzbek craftsmen nowadays still practice ancient jewellery-making techniques for cutting gemstones, creating filigrees, setting stones, engraving and enamelingeven as they adapt to modern fashion trends and styles.

Embroidery is one of the most popular of the applied arts in Uzbekistan. Every city and town in Uzbekistan has its own unique features such as ornamentation, composition, color range and stitching. The finest kind of embroidery, gold embroidery, is still practiced in Bukhara.

The art of carpet weaving is another very ancient form of art throughout Asia and the East and nowadays it can still be found in some of the cities of Uzbekistan. The art of woodcarving is practiced while simultaneously adaptingto modern interior design. Carved and painted tables, stools, caskets, pencil boxes and bookstands are popular pieces of furniture among both local people and tourists. The art of miniature painting and calligraphy has been revived in its traditional form as well as producing modern variants. For example, miniatures stamped on leather, miniatures painted on paper, small lacquered boxes, picture frames, pencil boxes and many other ideas skillfullydecorated by master craftsmen can be found in Uzbekistan.

Fine Arts

Fine Arts of Uzbekistan have ancient history, dating back to the depth of the centuries. On the territory of Uzbekistan have been found rock arts related to the epoch of the primitive society (Zaraut-say and others). They depict the scenes of hunting, animals and people. From antiquity, depictions of goddesses and cult creatures were sculptured from clay. In the works of ancient art, was used complex semantics of ornamental, anthropomorphic and zoomorphic nature. They reflected original artistic picture of the world, formed in the perception of the world of the eastern man. Existence of different religions and cults, including zoroastrizm, made decisive influence on shaping the mentality of Central Asian people.

In the Bronze Epoch, within modern Uzbekistan, existed highly developed fine arts that is witnessed by the Amudaryo treasure displayed nowadays in the British National Museum.

The epoch of antiquity was marked by the flowering of architecture, sculpture, jewelry art, small plastic art, monumental painting (Airtam, Khalchayan, Dalverzin-Tepa  Fayoz-Tepa and others).

Early medieval paintings of Afrosiyob, Varakhsha, Bolalik-Tepa and other architectural monuments are masterpieces of monumental painting of Central Asia.

From the middle of the VII century, the Arabians conquer Central Asia and bring here Islam.

The flowering of medieval monumental architecture is witnessed by the monuments of Bukhoro, Samarqand, Termez, Shahrisabz.

Miniature painting of Central Asia reached its flowering in XV-XVI centuries.  Muhammad-Murod Samarqandiy and Mahmud Muzahhib, the masters of Bukhoro and Samarqand schools, as well as Kamoliddin Behzod, the genius master of Herat school are well known.

From the XVII to the mid XIX century, art culture of the region was noted by significant decline. Pictorial form, especially portrayal of the humans gets abstracted, while zoomorphic portrayal gets flowered.

However, art crafts during this period develop quiet intensively. Local art schools of ceramics, jewelry art, artistic weaving and other types of crafts emerge. All types of ornamental design used in them is based on ancient eastern symbolic.

Before the XIX century, there was no easel painting in artistic culture of Central Asia. The masters of Russian art school became the founding fathers of fine arts of Uzbekistan of the late XIX and the beginning of the XX centuries. S.Yudin, L.Bure and other painters were at the sources of a birth of painting of Uzbekistan.

1920-1930s, when Central Asian avant-garde brightly flowered, was significant period in artistic culture.

Influence of cubism, expressionism, synthesized with principles of decorativeness of Central Asian art, are felt in creation of leading painters of Uzbekistan of early XX century. Alexander Volkov, Usto-Mumin (A.Nikolaev), Mikhail Kurzin, Viktor Ufimtsev, Ural Tansiqbaev and other masters of painting entered the best pages into the history of fine arts of Uzbekistan. Its there, that impressionistic tendencies develop in creation of P.Benkov and S.Kovalevskaya.

After 1934, fine arts were forcedly propagated social realism, in the context of which developed painting up to the mid 1960s (Abdulhaq Abdullaev, Mannon Saidov, Rashid Timurov, Rahim Ahmedov and others).

However, despite all obstacles in fine arts, the search for national style took place. Creation of Chingiz Ahmarov, Shamsira Hasanova, Nadejda Kashina and others more brightly showed it.

The thaw of 1960s in painting of Uzbekistan was noted by the names of Vladimir Burmakin, Ruzy Choriev, Grigoriy Ulko, Evgeniy Melnikov, Yuriy Taldykin. Their works seamlessly synthesized techniques of West-European painting with traditions of decorativeness of Eastern Art.

In 1970s, growth of talented painters of Uzbekistan such as Bakhtiyor Boboev, Garrik Zilberman, Maksud Tohtaev and many other masters was observed. Some of them used techniques of Western European art including surrealism. Number of artists including Zelimhan Saidjanov, Andrey Krikis, Asliddin Isaev and other painters experienced influence of avant-garde tendencies of Western European painting.

Leading masters of the late XX early XXI century are Bakhodir Djalov, Djavlon Umarbekov, Nikolay Shin, Rimma Gagloeva, Vyacheslav Okhunov, Akmal Nur, Alisher Mirzaev and many others. Their work made great influence on modern artists of the country, working in the beginning of the third millennium. Regional originality of the art of Central Asia appears as a result of complex artistic processes, including assimilation of ancient traditions, dialogism of western and eastern cultures. Main features of Uzbek painting are continuity of traditions, dialogue with cultures of West, intensiveness of searches by modern masters of own artistic style.

Brightness of colors, specific linear and color rhythm, close to musical tune, special passion to linearity, peculiar structure of painting space and eastern poetics make the works of Uzbek masters very distinctive and original.

Modern painting of Uzbekistan represents significant interest since it synthesizes ancient traditions of East and techniques of contemporary art of the West. Emerging on the junction of eastern and western cultures, the Uzbekistans painting is highly professional, and bears specific philosophy of the art. It attracts first of all by its distinctiveness based on the best traditions of the world culture and the ancient art of Central Asia. Today, the national heritage of Uzbekistan bears different traditions, different esthetic systems.

Variety of styles of Uzbek painting attracts those who value art. Here you can feel influence of the most diverse trends avant-garde and realistic techniques of expressiveness which are sometimes interlaced with each other.

For the last years, the shift from traditional plastic thinking to spectacular-spatial concepts can be noted in fine arts of Uzbekistan. The leading artists of the country create installations, environments, performances where they use mythological codes which could the understood by intellectuals.

Aesthetical and artistic value to the works of the painters of Uzbekistan is given by embodiment in artistic images of all multifacetedness of modern world.

Contemporary fine arts of Uzbekistan being quiet valuable and highly professional significantly supplements the picture of world culture.


Uzbekistan is the country of ancient high culture, which gave the world wonderful samples of architecture. In description by the Eastern artists of building up of ancient cities (Bukhoro, Samarqand, Khiva and others) are mentioned the palaces of rulers, dwellings of elite, markets, mosques, madrasahs, country-side palaces, rolled in greens of gardens. The example of distinctive country estate of IX-X centuries is Qirq-Qiz in Termez. Mausoleum of Samanides in Bukhoro has been kept until today, the monumental architecture, which embodied the best achievements of architectural creation of early medieval. In XI-XII centuries, Samarqand rapidly develops. Intensive construction of housing, civil and cult facilities takes place.

Among the cult facilities there is multitude of mosques such as main city mosque (jumaa-mosque), country side (namozgoh) and intra-community (guzar), madrasahs and mausoleums. Simplicity of architectural conception and greatness of its realization distinguishes the mausoleum of Hakim at-Termiziy. Many mausoleums are notable for geometrical design, which differ with big diversity and richness. Figure bricklaying, terracotta tiles with rich ornamental carving and others were applied. Almost century, starting from the XIII, Central Asia suffered of the conquest by the hordes of Genghis khan. Only in the first half of the XIV century, started gradual revival of destroyed cities and villages, that facilitated the rise of architectural and construction activities.

The architecture of Temurids town is visible realization of its public life: fortress strongholds is the expression of states power, palaces of the gorgeousness of the strong, cult buildings of Islam triumph of Muslim ideology, market facilities - role of crafts and trade, while dense living building up of the communities - the flesh and blood of the life itself of complex urban organism.

The flowering of town planning culture of Central Asia continued along the whole XV century, especially during the rule of famous Ulughbek, the grandson of Amir Temur. Among the remarkable buildings is the family burial vault of Temurids Dorus-Siadat and Oq-Saroy palace in Shahrisabz, Bibi-Honim Mosque, Gur-Emir and the most part of buildings of Shohi-Zinda, Ulughbek Madrasah in Samarqand. During the epoch of Temurids, garden-park art was developed. It organically combined green plantations, water and architecture.

In XVI-XVIII centuries, architecture and construction works were concentrated in such cities as Bukhoro, Samarqand, Karmon, Tashkent and others. The models of houses, palaces, bazaars and others further developed. Well preserved ensembles of Central Asian architecture of the XVI-XVII centuries such as Registon in Samarqand, ensemble of the Kalon square with the Kalon Minaret and Laby Hovuz, madrasahs of Ulughbek and Abdulazizkhon in Bukhoro, and others became world famous.

In the mid XVIII century, Khiva, where architectural sites of that period were concentrated, became the city-reserve. Among the architectural monuments, the following could be distinguished: Toshhovli Palace (1830-1838), Muhammad Aminhon madrasah (1851-1855), Kaltaminor Minaret (1855).

Uzbek peoples dwelling of the XIX-beginning of the XX centuries has interesting architecture. It embodies centuries-long experience of the people, developed under heavy climate and weather environment which reflects local features of some districts and towns of the country. Thus, Bukhoro dwelling house, located in accumulated central districts of the town, deprived of greens, has secluded shape and is isolated from street noise and dust. Its dwelling rooms are located around paved courtyard, which form microclimate and keep fresh even in heat.

Layout of heightened terrace, open to the wind, facilitates forming of favorable microclimate in Khiva house. Farghona houses were distinguished by sliding wall shutters, decorative wall niches, carving in stucco, painting of ceilings and others. The interior of peoples houses of Uzbekistan is very simple, but everything in it is rational and distinctive. National masters from generation to generation carefully handed down their knowledge and skills.

In the second half of the XIX century, principles of European regular town planning started to be introduced in architecture of Uzbekistan. New types of buildings appeared: banks, schools, gymnasiums and etc.. Construction works used mainly fired bricks with thick walls and counter-reinforcement, which provided seismic resistance. Architectureinmostcaseswaseclectic. Todays Uzbekistan has kept the monuments of material culture of more than 40 centuries. Own restoration school was formed, formed certain principles and traditions, techniques of conservation, engineering fortification of restoration of monuments and improvement of adjacent lands.

Contemporary principles of town planning, construction of lively establishments by large blocks, complexly, with all types of servicing the population, raising the number of storeys and etc., got more complete reflection in new towns such as Olmaliq, Angren, Zarafshon, and especially Navoi.

Such historical towns as Samarqand, Bukhoro and Khiva with the world known unique monuments of architecture of these ancient towns have been significantly renovated. Rapid development of downtown of Tashkent made the capital of Uzbekistan unrecognizable. Mustaqillik square, the main square of the capital, built on the model of many modern squares was meant for rare and grand parades. Nowadays, there are installed transportable assembled metallic towers with domes, mobile amphitheater and panorama of Uzbekistan made of electric lamps. Here, the last night of summer, the country celebrates Independence Day, grand dates, organizes different activities.

Theater life of modern Uzbekistan  

Theater life of modern Uzbekistan is many colored and manifold. Every evening, 36 national professional theaters, including the opera and ballet theaters (in Tashkent), 10 music and drama theaters, puppet-shows hospitably thrust open the doors. Russian drama and music theaters are functioning in Tashkent, Samarqand and Farghona.

Among leading theaters of the country are: the National Academic Drama Theater of Uzbekistan (former theater named after Khamza), National Academic Large Opera and Ballet Theater named after Alisher Navoi, Academic Russian Drama Theater of Uzbekistan, Tashkent Theater of Musical Comedy (operetta), Uzbek Musical Theater named after Muqimiy, Ilkhom theater, Republican Young Peoples Theater. They stage plays in Uzbek and Russian languages, concentrate interesting producer and actor forces. Such theaters as Drama Theater named after Abror Khidoyatov, Ilkhom, Youth Theater of Uzbekistan are fairly considered to be experimental. The current generations of the National Academic Drama Theater of Uzbekistan successfully keep on traditions of such coryphaeus of Uzbek scene M.Uighur, A.Khidoyatov, Sh.Burkhonov, S.Eshonturaeva, N.Rahimov and many others. The skill of the masters of National Academic Large Opera and Ballet Theater named after Alisher Navoi is known far outside of the country. After getting Independence of Uzbekistan, the interest for cultural heritage and spiritual treasures of the people became stronger. Tendencies, closely interlaced with the ongoing changes in the country clearly marked out in the scenic art. The theater is making reference to drama heritage of playwrights of Chulpon, Fitrat and A.Qodiriy, is comprehending events, facts and personalities of national history in the context of new social reality. At the same time, the theater is in intensive search of theatrality in reference to national sources and traditions of national artistic culture, assimilating risorial world of Uzbek people, its areal spectacular element. In 1998, therewasestablishedRepublicanCreative-ProductionAssociationUzbekteatr. In this context, the theaters started to actively respond to rising interest of the society in life and activity of the first rate personalities of national history. Such historical plays as Mirzo Ulughbek, Alisher Navoi, Amir Temur, Tumaris, Nodirabegim, Bobur, Sobir Termiziy, Alpomish and many others are being staged. The series of plays reflect steadfast interest of the art and the society in more recent history life of Turkeston of early XX century, the most interesting period in historical, cultural and socially-psychological contexts. In the best plays, the Uzbek theater permanently refers to the richest traditions of national music, literature, fine arts, architecture. The basing of theater art on the best cultural traditions, return of ethnography to the stage, folk, national way of life, rites one of directions of contemporary Uzbek theater manifested in a number of recent plays. The theaters of Uzbekistan are successfully touring abroad. Only the last years, such theaters as Ilkhom, named after A.Khidoyatov, named after Khamza, Puppet Show, Childrens Studio-Theater Hayol Studio-Theater Muloqot, The Theater of Farghona Province actively participated in festivals in Germany, France, Slovakia, India, Egypt, Poland, Italy, Belgium, Palestine, the USA.

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