RITES AND SYMBOLISM IN UZBEKISTAN
The human landscape of Uzbeskistan is chartacterised by the co-existence of different races, groups which over time have settled in this territory, an important stage on the Silk Road. Characteristics of this region of central Asia are the differentiations of identity which have produced cultural sincretisms between oriental symbols and western ones. The nature of the climate we find today can be checked against the descriptions of Marco Polo reported in his travel notes. However in the historical process of Uzbekistan, Islamisation has been the real universal force of cohesion, bringing order to a confused social context. This process became irreversible, of strong impact at all levels of society. It has been strong enough to resist attempts of Russian colonialisation. The values and behavioural orientations dictated by the religious creed, constitute even today a collective consensus at rites and cultural rituals , social expressions characterising the populations of Central Asia and Uzbekistan itself.
We shall now take into consideration the more significant rites of passage: marriage, birth, circumcision, and death, as expressive consolidated models of Uzbekistan culture. Marriage represents weavings of alliances between families, and is organised respecting precise moments which structure the ritual. Usually it is the family of the bridegroom who chooses his future wife. The relations of the bridegroom go to the house of the future bride, according to the Fatiha rite, to ask for the hand of the girl. If the family of the chosen young woman consents, a pact is sealed with the breaking of bread, according to the Non sindirish ritual. Following the promise of marriage, the date of the wedding is fixed and the families so recognise the irrrenouncible duty to respect the pact agreed. Weddings in Uzbekistan are celebrated with great solemnity. There are the parents of the bride who dress the future husband with the sarpo, the wedding garment. In front of the Mullah the bride and groom are declared man and wife and receive from him the blessing of long happiness, prosperity and many offspring. Immediately afterwards, at the civil registration office, the ZAGS, the bride and groom will legitimise the union, also according to prescribed rules. According to an ancient Zoroatrian tradition, still today much respected by Uzbekistans, the newly wed couple will not enter the new house without the propitiary rite of purification, which consists, for newly weds, of going three tmes round a fire which burns with live and bursting flame. With the rite of entry: Kelim salomi, the next morning after the wedding the bride is received into the family of the groom, acclaimed by all the relatives and friends of the groom, who express their joyous agreement with the festal presents.
As for the marriage, the birth of a baby is a keenly awaited event. And when it comes, on the fourth day after the birth, the relatives of the young mother express their joy with the rite Beshik tui, carrying as customary symbol of good omen a wooden cradle of wood with painted with designs. The new born baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes by the women present, is laid in the cradle and presented officially to all relatives and friends. The importance of this rituality is not negligible, because through it the family clan embraces the child, fruit of a legitimate union. Before childhood ends, the ancient Islamic santified rite of circumcision will be practised: Hatna Kilish, which marks the separation from the asexual world and entry into the sexual world. It is a real festival. In presence of the old of the neighbourhood the child reads some verses of the sura. The elderly give their blessing and a stallion suddenly appears, all decorated with trappings and highly coloured ribbons, on the crop of which is placed the future "man" , whom everyone wishes to become a strong man and honoured knight.
In the rites of passage, the death of a close relative for the Uzbeskistanis is lived in three moments. The day of the funeral, is the moment of momentary separation. Twenty days from the day of death, the relatives gather around a lavishly set table to commemorate the passing away. From this moment begins "the waiting" of the definitive separation of the departed one, which happens a year after the death, always with all the relatives gathered round a lavishly set table. From this brief synthesis on rites which in a certain sense spell out important moments of the life of Uzbeskstan people, we can also see how much the symbolism of "gift" understood as material exchange and of values in social relations, constitutes the basis of sociality of the Uzbeskistan people. The simple gesture of "silent bowing", accompanied by hand placed on the heart, is a profound act of recognition and admiration, characteristic of Asian culture. Through a ritualistic symbolism to be respected, a socially cohesive structure is perpetuated in time, in which the symbols are more real than what they symbolise, as can be seen in all the area of central Asia. A sense of hospitality is intrinsic in the mentality of the Uzbestistan people. The community of neighbours, the Mahallya, a very ancient structural unit, watchs over the respect for customs and traditions, and sees that hospitality is respected. The Mahallya is thus the cell of the quarter, beyond individuals, guarantor of those moments that spell out the rites of passage, important forms of everyday and aggregative life, which structure the distinctive identity of the population of Uzbekistan.
ARCHITECTURE OF MYHS
A PROPOSAL FOR TRAVELLING IN UZBEKISTAN
UZBEKISTAN: THE HISTORY
THE CERAMICS OF AFRASIAB AT SAMARKAND AND TASHKENT
THE PROBLEM OF "HUMAN RIGHTS" IN UZBEKISTAN
THE FESTIVAL OF NAVRUZ:CELEBRATION OF LIFE
OTHER DECORATIONS IN UZBEKISTAN AND THE ART OF CARPETS - PHOTO GALLERY
OTHER DECORATIONS IN UZBEKISTAN AND THE ART OF CARPETS
THE ART OF UZBEKISTAN MOSAICS
THE SILK ROAD, THE ROUTE, THE HISTORY
SAMARKAND IN THE XIX CENTURY - PART I - PHOTO GALLERY
SAMARKAND IN THE XIX CENTURY PART II - PHOTO GALLERY