people of Uzbekistan clair Mr. Nizam al-Din Ali Shir Herawi
as their national poet. The Uzbek language is descended
from the Chagatai (middle Turkic) language, in which he
wrote. Generally known by his pen name Navai or Navoi (meaning
“The Weeper”), he was a Central Asian politician,
mystic, linguist, painter and poet of Uyghur origin who
was born and lived in the area now known as Herat, Afghanistan
from 1441 to 1501. He authored many lyrical poems, gazelles
(love poems), prose works, scientific treatises —
and is considered the founder of Uzbek literature. He was
also a statesman-vizier/minister in the court of the Sultan
Husain Mirzo Boiqaro -- the patron of scientists, painters
and craftsmen. By his order, many hospitals, schools, and
bathhouses were created. For more than five centuries the
people of the world have enjoyed reading Navai’s books,
singing his songs and studying his work.
the Earth be an abode of delight, pleasure, songs and orchards,
May peace ascend to the throne of the world,
And let all the peoples gather for its feast”
is some more modern writing from our collector in Uzbekistan:
collected soil in Yunus Abad district, which used to be
isolated place in the first part of twentieth century. During
the Soviet repression times, Soviets used to have this place
for executing people whom they considered to be anti-Soviet.
Many of well-educated and talented representatives of Uzbek
people including poets, writers, scientists were among such
people. Nowadays the district is densely populated and is
one of the center of Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent.
There is a newly built Memorial Complex for the memory of
those whos uffered from Soviet repressions. I believe that
‘Common Ground 191’ will be long-standing symbol
of people’s friendship, unity and peace. It will be
reflection of all positive relations people and nations
can have . . . Also I am sending my photo while collecting
the soil. Hopefully I will be lucky to visit the place where
the fresco be installed and be proud for my nation too.
Best regards, Madina” (Musaeva)
many of our collectors express these sentiments, a feeling
of pride for their homeland’s soil, and a sense of
history about adding their collection to our Common Ground
191 project. The soil collection from Uzbekistan was an
efficient one; the box only got lost a couple of times.
The first email is dated September 17, and Madina’s
e-mail above is dated October 4th. If only all the shipments
were so quick.
and boxes get lost going or coming, to Gary Simpson’s
personal expense. Did you know it costs an average $200
to ship a small empty box to the country and the full box
of dirt back to Laguna Beach, California, home of the project?
Multiply that times 191 and you can see this is not an inexpensive
hobby. It’s could be called the “Great Dirt
Road” . . . the multicultural travels of the soil,
on the earth, upon which we all live.
Uzbekistan sits right in the center of the old Great Silk
Road, the commerce route between the East and West. Not
a single road, it consisted of a network of routes connecting
the West (Rome ) to the East (China ). Some of those roads
went through Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Silk was not the
only merchandise on the Great Silk Road; all kinds of goods
were exchanged between the big empires. Traders often did
not go from one end to the other, but traveled a short part
of the route, trading their goods in the big cities of the
Silk Road, then returning.
Great Silk Road existed more than 2000 years ago, but flourished
in the second century. In the middle of the first millennium,
its popularity began to decline as sea routes became more
accessible. Its importance as a connector between different,
distant peoples disappeared, however shorter routes were
still used for local trade.
fascination with the Great Silk Road is due to its intercultural
importance: People of all cultures and religions met in
the trading towns and exchanged, besides goods, also ideas,
opinions, attitudes, traditions, philosophies, knowledge
and much more. Tolerance was absolutely necessary, of the
critical importance. People long for such an open, accepting
world right up to today and the Great Silk Road an icon
of successful human diversity.
He who stands apart or turns his face
Deserves no place in the human race.
creations of mankind
Are the fruit of man’s mind.
the speech that is graceful and distinct;
Excellent that which is truthful and succinct.
man who follows virtue’s ways
Hath no need of pay or praise.
Some of history’s most influential and savage conquerors
ruled these lands. Alexander the Great set up at least eight
cities in Central Asia between 334-323 BC, before the caravans
began traveling through the Silk Road. After 138 BC China
opened its border to trade. Between 484-1150 AD, Huns, Turks
and Arabs came from the west; the latest bringing a new
religion--Islam. Many mosques and schools were built in
the Uzbeki cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva during
this period, which included saving the remaining structures
of the ancient Samanid culture. Then, most of these cities
were destroyed during the invasion of the Genghis Khan in
Timur, known also as Tamerlane, resurrected the same cities
by using the labor of slaves and artists he captured during
successful crusades. Timur conquered Persia, captured Baghdad,
and led expeditions to Anatolia and India. Most of the architecture
that is found in Samarkand was build by Timur and his grandson
Ulugbek. These are the well preserved relics from the time
when Central Asia was a center of empire, education, and
trade. Uzbekistan cities including Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva,
Shakhrisabz and Tashkent live on in the imagination of the
West as symbols of oriental beauty and mystery. Here is
a short description of some of those cities, interspersed
with some generic Uzbekistan architectural pictures.
one of Islam’s most sacred cities, Bukhara contains
many examples of fine Islamic architecture.
is known as a museum city under the open sky. Important
spiritual and cultural values came from the large scientific
enters of astronomy, mathematics and medicine that existed
in this area centuries ago.
the capital of Uzbekistan, was probably settled around the
Palace at Tashkent
keeps alive the memory of Greek, Baktrian and Kushan kingdoms
that brought obliterated the heathen fire-worshippers and
shaman cults. Trade caravans traveled here through iron
gates in narrow mountain canyons for thousand of years;
also the armies of Alexander the Great, Chengiz Khan and
ye peoples of the Earth,
Enmity is an evil state.
Live in friendship, one and all -
Man can have no kinder fate.
(A page from the divan of Nava'i,
from the library of Süleymân the Magnificent.
Nava'i's best-known poems are found in his four divans,
or poetry collections,
which total roughly 50,000 verses.)
conquered Uzbekistan in the late 19th century. Stiff resistance
to the Red Army after World War I was eventually suppressed
and a socialist republic set up in 1924. This was probably
the period when our collection site Unus Abad was in operation.
Also during the Soviet era, intensive production of “white
gold” (cotton) and grain led to overuse of agrochemicals
and the depletion of water supplies, which have left the
land poisoned and the Aral Sea and certain rivers half dry.
Independent since 1991, the country seeks to gradually lessen
its dependence on agriculture while developing its mineral
and petroleum reserves. Current concerns include terrorism
by Islamic militants, economic stagnation, and the curtailment
of human rights and democratization. Along with Liechtenstein,
Uzbekistan is one of the only two doubly landlocked countries
in the world. The terrain is mostly flat to rolling sandy
desert with dunes; broad, flat intensely irrigated river
valleys. Fergana Valley in east is surrounded by mountainous
Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan with the shrinking Aral Sea in
population of Uzbekistan is very young—34.1 percent
of its people are younger than 14. Uzbek is the only official
state language, however Russian is the defacto language
for interethnic communication. Uzbekistan has a high literacy
rate with about 88 % of adults above the age of 15 being
able to read and write. Its universities graduate almost
600,000 skilled workers annually.
leads to stumbling and delay;
Patience clears the most encumbered way.
who shows patience and thoughtful design
Turns flowers into honey and grapes into wine.
* * *
was a builder who is reported to have founded, restored
or endowed some 370 mosques, schools, libraries, hospitals,
caravanserais, and other educational, pious, and charitable
institutions in Khorasan. In Herat, he was responsible for
40 caravanserais, 17 mosques, 10 mansions, 9 bathhouses,
9 bridges and 20 pools. Among his most famous constructions
were the mausoleum of the 13th century mystical poet, Farid
al-Din Attar, in Nishapur and the Khalasiya madrasa in Herat.
He was one of the instrumental contributors to the architecture
of Herat, which became, in Rene Grousset’s words,
“the Florence of what has justly been called the Timurid
Renaissance.” He was a promoter and patron of scholarship
and arts and letters, a musician, a composer, a calligrapher,
a painter and sculptor, and such a celebrated writer that
Bernard Lewis, the distinguished English historian of Islam
called him “the Chaucer of the Turks”.
classical music is called shashmaqam, which translates
as six maqams—six sections in different musical
modes. Interludes of spoken Sufi poetry interrupt the music,
typically beginning at a low register and gradually ascending
to a climax before calming back down to the beginning tone.
This type of music is drawn from poetry, with performers
fluent in both Uzbek and Tajik languages; in some instances
the two languages are mixed as one in the same song. Although
banned in the 1950’s from the radio stations, folk
groups continued to play music in their own ways and spread
it individually as well.
of a bacha
in Samarkand between 1905 and 1915
These days, Uzbekistan has
81,600 km of roadways, 71,237 of them paved and 10,363 km
unpaved. Was the Great Silk Road paved or just mud (soil)?
People of all cultures, religions and ethnicities once traveled
the Silk Road, exchanging poetry, music and trade goods.
Just so, a much appreciated
and varied assortment of people have contributed to the
Common Ground 191 project, a project that makes poetry out
of the mundane medium of soil--the soil upon which the Great
Silk Road lay, upon which all wars were/are fought, all
the poets and participants live, and from which an exciting
new art expression will be forged. Thank you to the U.S.
Embassy in Uzbekistan and to Madina Musaeva for her soil
word for peace in Uzbekistan is unknown at this time, but
we repeat the words of Navoi: may
peace ascend to the throne of the world.
justice is the corner-stone of power,
A ruined land will soon be made to flower.
who digs a hole for others as a snare
Himself will find entombment there.
can avert calamitous strife,
Words can restore the dead to life.
* * *
were obtained from: www.advantour.com
of the Navoi materials came from www.navoigarden.com--words
and pictures--with some small portion from Wikipedia.