...named for a 9th century astronomer (al-Farghani - or to give him his full title - Abu'l-Abbas Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Kathir al-Farghani), Fergana (or as the Uzbeks spell it - Farg'ona) was founded in 1876 to be the regional centre for the Tsarist regime that had annexed the Khanates of Turkestan (Bukhara, Khiva and Kokhand) one by one as Russia...more
The Kokand khanate was both the newest, the largest, and the shortest-lived of the three khanates that dominated the region that is now occupied by Uzbekistan and parts of its near neighbors, Kyrgistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. Founded in the early 18th century, it rose to its greatest power in the first half of the 19th century but was swept up...more
Kokand's Amin Beg medressah is being restored - a visit there was a chance to watch the young men working high above us, meticulously painting the intricate patterns on the ceiling, to weave through the maze of scaffolding and carved wooden pillars that filled the great iwan, to watch the plaster workers carefully carving the intricate patterns of...more
Silken robes fit for khan, coral- and pearl-encrusted jewellery for his wives and concubines, weapons and armour, documents signed and sealed by the khan - who held the power of life and death over all his subjects, a collection of historic photographs, wooden carts (how uncomfortable must it have been to ride in the one in Photo 2?!! This is a...more
50 kilometres west of Fergana, the town of Rishtan sits on a bed of red clay so fine and pure it can be worked just as it is, without any further refinement. It's no surprise then to learn that potters of Rishtan have been stacking their kilns for a thousand years, producing pots of such delicacy and refinement that they are famed all over Central...more
Rasuljon Mirzaahmedov is the fifth generation of his family to practice the skilled craft of ikat design and, like his father, Turghunboy Mirzaahmedov, before him, he is dedicated to ensuring the traditional crafts of Uzbekistan are passed on to future generations. With the support of UNESCO, he founded the Centre of Handicraft Development at the...more
Wise and holy men known as Khodjas are revered in Central Asian Muslim culture and here in Margilan, a city where years of Soviet supression of religion never broke the faith of the local people despite the enforced closure and neglect of their mosques, medressahs and mausoleums. Khodja Magiz lived in Margilan in the 16th century, teaching and...more
Margilan ikat designer, Turghunboy Mirzaahmedov was acknowledged as a supreme master of his craft, not only in Uzbekistan but all over the world. A visit to his home was both a privilege and a pleasure.The fourth generation of his family to practice the art, for years Usto (Master) Mirzaamedov defied Soviet prohibitions on individual craftsmen...more
The production of silk has been, and still is, Margilan's main industry for centuries. There's no record of just when the jealously guarded secrets of the laborious processes of sericulture arrived in Uzbekistan but it is well-documented that the industry was thriving in mediaeval times and at the beginning of the 20th century century there were...more
11 kilometres and a thousand years of Central Asian history divide Fergana and neighboring Margilan. By the 9th century, when Russia's dominance of the khanates of the Silk Road was an unimaginable leap into the future, Margilan was already a thriving trading centre that could trace its name back to Alexander the Great - it's said the meal of...more
Andijan is a city located in the eastern Ferghana Valley. Andijan has about 350.000 inhabitants. Andijan was already mentioned in 9th century. 1483 Babur, the last of the Timurides, was born here. Her became the first of the Indian Mogul Dynasty. A big earthquake in 1902 has destroyed most of the old buildings.Worth a visit are the big bazaar and...more
We visited a very interesting pottery in Rishtan. Ceramics from Rishtan are very famous. The pottery we visited belongs to a famous local artist, whose ceramics have been even shown on ExPO2000 in Hannover (Germany).Researchers unanimously acknowledge the supreme role of Rishtan in the art of ceramics in the XIX - early XX centuries. The small town...more
Margilan is only a short drive from Ferghana. The city has about 170.000 inhabitants. It is famout for silkproduction. The visit of a silk factory is an interesting highlight. The factory we visited shows in some old rooms the traditional way of the production of silk, silk weavery and carpet knotting. Here you can see old women boiling the...more
Ferghana is a very beautifull city. I was quite surprised about the wide alleys with old trees giving shadow in the heat of summer. Most buildings in the center show the old Russian architecture of 100 years ago. Ferghana was founded in 1876 as a Russian administration center. Until 1907 the city was called Nowy Margilan. 1907 - 1924 its name was...more
The chaikhana is is central to life in Uzbekistan, and nowhere more so than in the Fergana Valley. This is where the old men come to while away the hours, drinking tea, chewing the fat with old friends, snoozing in the shade on a hot day. Families come too, several generations together - there's always room for one more on the takhta - the large...more
Flying to Fergana from Tashkent meant a very early start to the day for us, though not as early as it might have been - our Thursday morning flight left at 0750, Saturday and Sunday's flights left at 0505 and 0550 respectively! 0750 was bad enough - it meant a 0600 pickup from our hotel and a long and boring wait at the airport - we'd been advised...more
When we were putting the itinerary for our Uzbek trip together, there was a Sunday morning flight from Fergana to Tashkent, which fitted in with our plans beautifully - we could fly back to Tashkent in time for lunch and be in Samarkand before sunset. (Following a bad accident last year tourist coaches are not permitted to drive after dark). Well -...more
I had a little trouble figuring out how to get here from Tashkent. In the end, I went to the lot (not the bus station) near Sobir Raminov Metro station, and asked to go to Fergana. For 400 (you could pay less) I was driven to another lot where I found a van to Fergana for 5000. In the end I was charged 7000 - be sure to have teh price written on a...more
Of course in every workshop or small factory is it possible to buy their products.
Silk scarfs and fabrics of Margilan are very colorful and cheap. They are a bit more expensive than in China. They also feature mainly traditional patterns, which I personally do not like so much.
I loved the ceramics of Rishtan! This dazzling blue color of bowls and plates! And the modern patterns! Just great! But it is very expensive. Ceramics also break easily and are very heavy. So transportation is a problem. They say, that they also send, what you buy, to you by insured parcels. Anyway: it was just too expensive for me.
There are also small figurines, which are very typical and are a nice souvenir. Not too expensive.
....that's what they call cotton in Uzbekistan. The country's most valuable export, it brings in money but exacts a harsh price. A thirsty crop, it requires copious amounts of water during the growing season. The rivers that once watered the Valley no longer flow so freely, the Aral Sea far to the north-west of the Fergana Valley is a lesson to the...more
The Syr Darya, one of the two great rivers of Central Asia, runs right through the Fergana Valley. 2,220km long, it begins with the confluence of two rivers, the Naryn and Kara Darya, that flow out of the Tien Shan mountains. 70 other tributary rivers flow into the Syr Darya as it makes its way through the Valley and on through Kazakhstan to the...more
This seems to be something fairly common in Uzbekistan. After I agreed on a price from Tashkent to Fergana (5000) which was written on a paper, and then on arrival I was told it was 8000. I refused, and a guy at my hotel translated the argument. I did end up paying 7000 in the end, as I just got too tired of arguing, and had no one on my side. Just be prepared for this type of thing and try not to give in like me. This 'change the price' game is a strange one indeed.
Fun Alternatives: At least write down the price ahead of time (though it didn't help in my case)
Most little girls the world over love dressing up. In Uzbekistan, young schoolgirls get to dress up every day - the satin and frills these girls are wearing is their school uniform. I'm not sure that I could have got my daughter into something like this, and she certainly wouldn't have kept her apron as clean as that through a day at school.
The older girls we met in the loom room the Yodgorlik Silk Factory were wearing the usual Uzbek dress of a long tunic over baggy pants and a headscarf - but each and every one of them had a designer handbag, all buckles and hardware, "just like the real thing", hanging at the end of their loom and poking out of more than a few of them were the Uzbek equivalent of OK and STAR - I wonder who is Uzbekistan's Posh'n'Becks?