Culture and traditions
The culture of Tajikistan formed over several thousand years while it has absorbed many ideas from Zoroastrianism and Islam. Unlike other Central Asian countries, Tajikistan culture is quite close and similar to Afghanistan and Iran culture. Tight ties with Persia have left a profound impact on the literature and arts of Tajikistan. Meanwhile, 20th-century Soviet impact produced the explicit documentation of local practices. Although decades of conflict have left deep scars on the national consciousness, the mood in recent times has been cautiously optimistic.
Tajik cuisine is certainly Central Asian with plenty of grilled meats and dairy products, however with an influence by Afghanistan, Russia, and even Iran. Tajik meal contains a variety of fruit, meat, and soup dishes. The most popular dishes are “kabuli pulao”, “qabili palau” which is a variety of Central Asian plov, and Samanu or samsy (samosa) . Tajik starters are small dishes such as dried fruit, nuts, and halva, followed by soup and meat, and completed with plov. Bread and tea play important role in the life of Tajiks, there will always be a kettle on the boil and a few cups of tea bowls filled with a light, steaming tea.
Tajikistan has a strong folk art tradition across the nation, particularly with the creation of textiles, embroidery, and other practical decorative arts such as carving, furniture, and jewelry making.
Chakan Embroidery Art
Chakan embroidery is the technique of sewing symbolic images on cotton or silk with brightly colored thread. It represents mythological images, nature, or the cosmos. The embroidery is accomplished on clothing and common household items such as curtains, bedspreads, and pillows. Chakan items are an essential part of marriage ceremonies, with a bride wearing a Chakan shirt and the groom wearing an embroidered skullcap called a “tāqi”. Tajik women and girls will commonly wear Chakan clothing during national festivals and holidays.
Mainly women create this art form, either individually or in collective groups. While working individually the craftswomen will get help from their daughters and other family members. In a communal environment, the craftswomen gather in one home, taking direction from the most experienced one and being assigned an individual task for the process. The tasks can contain image design, fabric cutting, embroidering, sewing garments, and taking orders for the sale of the products. The products created by these craftswomen are sold in bazaars or dress shops, providing an important source of income.
The Chakan embroidery practice is passed down from one generation of women to the next, to secure the method continues to thrive. A craftswoman will pass down her knowledge to her daughter, granddaughter, and daughter-in-law. In 2018, Chakan embroidery was marked on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Page updated 24.8.2022