August 20, 2007 – Mosaic Mosques and Silk Weavers

Master puppet maker, Iskandar Khakimov shows off one of his masterpieces

Gold embroidery from the Ferghana ValleyArriving in Bukhara on the early morning flight from Tashkent transported us once again.  First we traveled from 21st century America, through Frankfurt to 21st century Tashkent, with its culture and development that is associated with the recent independence and the not so distant Soviet past.

Now we are in the old city of Bukhara, still surrounded by Soviet and modern development, but we are living in labyrinth streets that take us back in time.  Besides the stunning mosaic mosques and mausoleums we are enjoying the trading atmosphere of this ancient Silk Road trading center, caravansari, or trading posts that operated centuries ago for money changers and merchants to trade with travelers are still operating.  Now with the newfound independence for free trade that has followed the Soviet era, we enjoyed watching many craftsmen working behind the ancient shady walls.

We saw gold embroidery, silk weavers from the Ferghana Valley working at their simple, yet elegant looms.  We also watched metal workers and wood carvers.  My favorite stop is the shop of Iskandar Khakimov, the master puppet maker.  We sat fascinated as the art of puppet performances were demonstrated to us, followed by a demonstration of how the intricate and beautiful paper mache puppets are made.

Music and dancing entertainment during our meal in an ancient courtyardIn the evening we walked a short distance to have dinner and watch a small performance – two musicians and a beautiful dancer with in lavish costume – entertained us while we had our meal in an ancient courtyard.

Tomorrow night we will attend the big fashion show and folk dancing show at another of Bukhara’s evening spots. But the simplicity of tonight’s meal, put on by a local family -  the owner and his wife cooked our meal – was enjoyable.

All Text, Images and Audio Files © Berg Adventures International 2007