The Culture of Uzbekistan


Over the centuries, Uzbekistan has a wide representation of many cultures and nationalities. Majority of the population is the Uzbek with 71% representation, followed by the Russians, the Tajiks, the Kazakhs, and other minority groups. Traditional clothing, music, cuisine and arts and handicrafts enhance the wealthiness of Uzbekistan culture. Don't miss out on the unique culture that Uzbek holds during your trip.


People

Aside from Tajik, Kazakh, Tatar, Russian, and Karkalpak, Uzbeks take up more than four-fifths of the population. The least russianized of Turkic people that were previously under Soviet Control are Uzbeks, and almost all of them still claim Uzbek as their primary language. The Uzbeks are Sunni Muslims, and they are among the most devout Muslims in all of Central Asia. About three-fourths of the population is Muslim while lesser than one-tenth of the population is Easten Orthodox Christian. There is a majority of people considering themselves non-religious or practicing other religions.

Clothing

Men

National men’s clothes are the quilted robe (also known as chapan), tied with a shawl. For men, they wear a traditional cap that is tubeteyka which comes in various types: duppi, kalpon, kallapush paired with boots that are made out of thin leather.

Women

As for Uzbek women, the traditional clothes are suits that consist of a plain tunic-dress of khan-atlas and wide trousers. Over these clothes, women pair a robe that resembles man's chapans. Dressy-looking garments made of atlas cloth and richly laced with golden thread. Gold and silver jewellery is an essential part of national clothes for Uzbek women.

Plov

Plov (sometimes also called “osh”) is commonly recognized as Uzbek national dish. It’s a hearty rice pilaf, you’ll probably find that the word “plov” and “pilaf” are essentially the same. Generous portion of rice that has been cooked together with lamb or beef, onions. garlic, raisins, carrots, and apricots is to be expected from this dish. Not only is it the most popular dish in Uzbek but it is also one of the most delicious. Most of the time, you can find Plov in restaurants that serve Uzbek food.

Shasik

In simple words, Shaslik is skewered meat cooked on the barbecue. In addition, the word “shashlik” is just the Russian word for “shish kabob”, and this style of cooking became popular in Central Asia during the period of the far-reaching Russian empire. Anywhere in Uzbek, you can find a range of choices for shashlik, including beef or lamb cubes, chicken legs, “meat rolls'' which are lean and fatty beef, ground beef or lamb.

Lagman

Lagman (also known as lahg’ mon) is another well known food in Uzbekistan. The most popular way to serve lagman is as a hearty noodle stew that includes lamb, onions, carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and garlic. The flavour of the rice broth is enhanced with cumin seed, parsley, and basil. The term “lagman” originated from the Dungan word, “lyumyan” which means “stretch the dough,” hence the lagman noodles are usually hand stretched, giving them a deliciously chewy texture.



Shurpa

Shurpa is a lamb soup that you can find in almost every food store in Uzbekistan. In addition to the pieces of lamb, thick slices of vegetables such as carrots, potatoes and onions are also added into the soup. To make the soup more pleasant than it already is, spices like fresh dill and parsley are often added into the soup. Shurpa is a great appetizer for any meal, particularly if you’re visiting Uzbek in the colder months and have the need to warm yourself up after a day of exploring the beautiful islamic architecture of the country.


Dimlama

Dimlama is a flavourful one-pot rake traditionally associated with harvest time in Uzbek. It is filled with meat (lamb or beef), potatoes, onions, carrots, cabbage, peppers and garlic. To cook the dimlama, all the ingredients are layered in a deep pan, covered and simmered for several hours. If you're in the spring or fall of Uzbekistan, you're sure to experience dimlama as a seasonal special.


Manti

Another very common food in Uzbekistan, manti (or "mantu"), are big steamed dumplings filled with ground lamb or beef. Extra fat is also applied to the dumplings to improve the taste. They're served with yogurt for diving, and in Uzbek, they're usually eaten without utensils, so don't be afraid to dive right in your hands. You will sometimes find manti filled with other great ingredients such as potatoes, turnips, or pumpkin, but if the filling is not mentioned on the menu, you can expect meat.


Chuchvara

Chuchvara are actually smaller versions of Manti, and these tasty little dumplings can be served steamed (like manti), fried, or in a soup. It is very similar to the Chinese wonton soup. It’s particularly good when served with a healthy sprinkling of fresh dill on top and a great starter to any meal in Uzbekistan!


Samsa

Samsa (also sometimes called “samosa”) is another common style of dumplings in Uzbek. Similar to manti, they’re stuffed with lamb or beef and an extra aid of lamb fat for taste. The dumplings are then placed into the oven to be baked which results into a flaky pastry. It is a tradition to start your morning with a place full of samsas and tea in Uzbekistan.


Achicuk

Achichuk is a basic salad made with sliced tomatoes, onions and cucumbers. You're going to see it as an option in any Uzbek restaurant, and you're sure to end up ordering it a time or two during your journey. It's simple and easy, but also fresh and delicious.

Traditional Uzbek Music

Traditional Uzbek music has ancient origins; frescoes depicting musical instruments identical to modern Uzbek strings and wind instruments were discovered during archaeological excavations in Samarkand and Termez. Traditional musical works were often based on folklore or constructed around poems by famous Uzbek poets such as Alisher Navoi, Jami, Mukimi and others—cultural links and traditions still run deep.

Shashmaqam

Shashmaqam, also included inside the UNESCO list, is a special genre of music from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, on its list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Mankind. Shashmaqam translates as six maqom or “modes”. Each of the six modes has its own order, rhythm, and value, and the result is a unique Uzbek effect. This style of music is performed by a group of singers and musicians and uses the traditional stringed dutar, gijak, and tanbur as well as the doira (drum) as instruments. Shashmaqam schools can be found in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

Uzbek folk music

Uzbek folk music is more commonly associated with dutar and bakhshi. Dutar is a simple instrument with two strings of silk and Bakhshi is a musician who plays the instrument while singing folk songs. Uzbek festive music is performed on a karnay (wind instrument), surnay (flute) and doira, the sounds of which can be heard for hundreds of meters, inviting locals and tourists alike to join in the celebration.

In the 19th-20th centuries, after Uzbekistan became part of the Russian Empire and Soviet Union, a school devoted to classical music opened in Uzbekistan. Uzbek folk motifs have permeated classical music, producing a special Eastern flavor. Uzbek pop music was born in a similar way after independence, and the native genres saw a revival.

In Uzbekistan today, guests can hear modern Uzbek pop music, folk music, Uzbek neoclassicism, shashmaqam and lazgi. Live music can be heard during holiday festivals, weddings, at the Tashkent Conservatory, and at folklore shows like the one at Nadir Divan-Begi Madrasa. In addition, there is a bi-annual music festival in Samarkand called “Sharq Taronalari”. National music from countries around the world is performed here.