On May 8-9, historical Khiva played host to the Third Festival of Traditional Culture Asrlar Sadosi (Echo of centuries), which is organized annually by the Fund Forum and UNESCO Representative Office in Uzbekistan .
Among them are designer Marta Marzotto (Italy); Regional Director of Sonosite Helmut Babler (Austria); General Director of Sotheby’s CIS office Mikhail Kamensky and Representative of the Auction House in Moscow Irina Stepanova (Russia); an archeologist of Louvre Museum Rocco Rante (France); a representative of Branly Museum Madeleine Leclair (France); lecturer in Central Asian Studies at London University's School of Oriental and African Studies Professor Shirin Akiner (UK); representative of Casa Asia Eva Soms Bach (Spain); Cultural Affairs Director of Caixa Foundation Ignasi Miro Borras and his deputy Isabel Salgado Gispert (Spain); music expert, public figure and journalist Professor Han Meong Hee (Korea); Chairman of CKD ASSET Supervisory Board Libor Trubelik (Czech Republic); musician and producer Maksim Fadeyev (Russia); Head of cinema division of First Channel Anatoliy Maksimov (Russia); President of Condé Nast Russia Publications Karina Dobrotvorskaya (Russia); Editor of the Culture Department of Kommersant Publishing House Alexey Tarkhanov (Russia); leading specialist of the Ministry of Education of South Korea Kim Bong Il; Manager of Wooil Architecture Company Kim Heorg Eun (South Korea); Russian producers Mikhael Shlikht and Alexey Kublitskiy; costume designer Anna Lazareva (Russia); L’Officiel edition manager Benjamin Eymère (France); Edtor-in-chief of Diva International magazine Marit Fosse (Switzerland); Editor-in-chief of Diplomatic News magazine Robert Blum (Switzerland); editor of Diplomat magazine Venetia De Blocq Van Kuffeler (UK); representative of the Korea Post Newspaper Min Keun-sik (South Korea); founder and editor-in-chief of the Bukharian Times newspaper Rafael Nektalov; prominent photographer of Vanity Fair and Sette Massimo Gatti (Italy); editor of ART+AUCTION Russia Magazine Anna Aryutyunova (Russia); creative groups of Io Donna magazine (Italy); TRT TV channel (Turkey); President of Hachette Filipacchi Shkulev Publishing House and InterMediaGroup, and editor-in-chief of Elle magazine Yelena Sotnikova; editor of Travels section, editor-in-chief of ELLE-decor Alexey Dorozhkin; famous photographer Yaroslav Filippov; journalist, director of HFS Publishing House St. Petersburg office Nadezhda Kozhevnikova and many others.
At 10 o’clock in the morning Ota-Darvoza western gate greeted the participants of folk music groups who had arrived from all regions of the country, as well as horsemen and a camel caravan. Performances by these characters lasted for two days . Thus, under the azure sky, Khiva brought together all the colours of the Uzbek national folklore.
Also, the Festival guests and participants had a chance to see for themselves what the mastery of Uzbek craftsmen is about. The Applied Art Fair sprawled across the Amudarya Siren, as poets dubbed Khiva in the past. Handmade ceramics, repoussé, suzane, jewellery, toys and carpets seemed to captivate the visitors by virtue of their original design, patterns and bright colours.
Those interested in archeology and history had an opportunity to visit master classes. Opposite Said Alauddin Mausoleum was an excavation spot with ongoing research under the guidance of local archeologists, doctors of history Vadim Yagodin and Mirzaali Mambetullayev, which brought together foreign guests, youths and journalists. The said excavation spot represents a rectangular pit
1,8 meters deep. By archeological measures, this depth corresponds to the 18th-19th centuries. The deeper the pit, the older the cultural strata being discovered by researchers. Each archeological finding is thoroughly cleaned and placed along the excavation pit. Among such items are fragments of azure and grey clay ceramics, dry bricks used for home construction, toys, etc. Kurbanboy Sobirov, PhD in History and Associate Professor told those gathered about the ongoing excavations.
An inalienable part of the Uzbek national traditions is kurash wrestling. The competitions were organized on holidays, during weddings and major sales. Presently, it is an independent sport in which republican and international competitions are regularly held. In 1998, an International Kurash Association was established, which now groups 114 member countries. In 2003, kurash was recognized as official sport by the Olympic Council of Asia, the Asian division of the International Olympic Committee. The goal of the kurash wrestler is to get the opponent's shoulder to touch the carpet. In kurash the athletes fight on a carpet or tatami. On the first day of the Festival the inner yard of Allakuli-han Madrasah hosted selection rounds of kurash wrestlers.
The second day of the Asrlar Sadosi (Echo of Centuries) Festival of Traditional Culture started with a pilaf event organized in commemoration of May 9, Memory and Honour Day in
Uzbekistan , and to honour World War II veterans and to extend to them congratulations. The charitable pilaf event fit in perfectly with the Festival Programme confirming its status as a national cultural project which fosters in Uzbek people respect for traditions and history of their country.
Another highlight, National Cuisine Festival, had the 10 best cooks prepare delicious meals. The area outside
Kohna-Ark Palace housed an outdoor restaurant. Uzbek national cuisine is famous for its juicy traditional dishes made of natural products. The king of Uzbek meals is pilaf which is cooked differently in each region of the country. The guests literally went into raptures about Khoresmian pilaf, Namangan golden pilaf, Bukhara saffron pilaf, as well as flat Uzbek bread, somsa and gumma.
Later visitors could witness rooster and ram fights, which became a riveting spectacle, drawing hundreds of people. The origin of these games can be traced back to several centuries, when they represented pagan cults and have become national games. The fights are a demonstration of strength and energy. The combatants are specially bred roosters and rams, conditioned for increased stamina and strength.
Asrlar Sadosi Festival also included a conference titled “
Uzbekistan ’s Cultural Legacy: the Art of Calligraphy and Architectural Epigraphy”, which brought together roughly 100 eminent scholars of Uzbekistan and foreign countries in Khorezm’s Mamun Academy , one of the oldest spiritual centres of world civilization. Among the participants were Jorge Espinal, UNESCO Representative in Uzbekistan , and Gulnara Karimova, the Chairperson of the Fund Forum’s Board of Trustees.
The conference focused on the presentation of the book “Samples of the Eastern Art of Calligraphy and Miniature”, published by the Fund Forum. Participants also made speeches on the results of research projects to create an “Archeological Map of Uzbekistan” and a “Catalogue of Archeological Monuments in
Uzbekistan ”. All these are a maiden effort in Uzbekistan to systematize and catalogue the historical legacy in this field and have drawn increasing interest from many specialists. Also, presently groups of scientists in Bukhara , Samarkand , Termez and Karshi have, under a project, joined forces to study and decipher inscriptions on medieval architectural monuments in Uzbekistan . Another project has been launched in Tashkent to study the origins and principles of Khoresmian tambour notation.
Tash-Hovli Complex hosted the National Dress Festival which brought together 15 fashion designers from
Tashkent , Khorezm and Bukhara . The fashion show which kicked off with a theatrical improvisation from an eastern fairy-tale, presented 13 collections of ethnographic and stylized models. The National Dress Festival is an art of combining costume traditions that have developed over centuries and modern trends in fashion with its dynamic, practical nature coupled with its tendency toward minimalism.
Also, ancient items went under the hammer at an Auction organized as part of the Festival by MEROS Association of Antiques of Uzbekistan.
Asrlar Sadosi Festival culminated in a gala concert at
Kohna-Ark Palace . The concert programme consisted of performances by folk music groups, bakshi, dance groups, and famous performers such as Abdukhoshim Ismailov, Samandar, Makhmud Namozov, Zulaykho Baykhanova, Abdulla Shomagrupov, Hosila Rahimova, Sato group as well as laureates of the Fund Forum’s youth and children’s projects. The concert was accompanied by a group of people carrying a torch along the perimeters of the square. Each performance drew uproarious applause. As Kohna-Ark palace did not have enough seating capacity, a monitor was installed on the palace square with live transmission.
As part of the gala concert, the author of the project Gulnara Karimova and UNESCO Representative in Uzbekistan Jorge Espinal awarded diplomas, statuettes and prizes to the Festival winners.
Asrlar Sadosi Festival of Traditional Culture has come to an end. This time instead of picturesque landscapes of Kashkadarya and
Tashkent regions, which hosted the previous fests, the organizers chose historical Khiva. For several days the city served as an arena for national Uzbek culture, combining the best, the brightest and the most exciting. Khiva’s Asrlar Sadosi will linger long in the hearts and memories of those who have come close to the original and multifaceted traditions of Uzbekistan .