Culture in the everyday life of the Eastern Pamirs

The cultural expressions and artefacts of the Western and Eastern Pamirs - language, music, architecture, poetry, religion - differ greatly, as do those within the valleys of the Western Pamirs.

The traditional architecture of the Pamirs is marked by stone and wooden houses, with five wooden pillars attributed to the prophets of Ismailism carrying the intricate wooden ceiling of the main room. The people of Western Badakhshan are famous for their music, dance and poetry. Relics from ancient Zoroastrian rituals can still be seen at wedding ceremonies and in architecture. Jewellery using semi-precious stones and wooden items are locally produced, as are brightly coloured wool products.

The Eastern Pamirs have been populated by nomadic ethnic Kyrgyz since the 17th century. Their cultural artefacts are adapted to their socio-economic activities and to their environment. The traditional architecture is beautifully represented by yurts, mobile habitations made of felt on an ingenious wooden frame, with the interior decoration bearing witness to the wealth and skills of their owners. Felt and wool serve as the basis for handicrafts.

Such objects often combine decorative and utilitarian aspects, contributing to the decoration of the interiors of the yurts and serving as tools for everyday use. There is a large variety of embroidered, knitted and woven objects, ranging from braided wool to tie the wooden frames of the yurts to bags and pouches for various purposes and carpets displaying colourful and harmonious compositions representing the sun, human figures or geometric objects. Precious stones, including rubies and emeralds, are also found in the area, and these are sometimes used in local handicrafts. Traditional men's crafts include the processing of wood, leather and silver.

Holidays : National Tajik holidays, Muslim holidays and holidays in the Central Asian Calendar such as Navruz (New Year). Most weddings take place in the fall, when the relative abundance of fruit and food allow these colourful (and costly) social events to take place.

Music : Traditional Kyrgyz instruments include the "Komuz" (a three-stringed instrument mainly played by men) and the "Ooz Komuz" (a metal mouth harp played by men and women). Music plays a central part in all celebrations.

Literature : A Pamiri version of the epic poem of the legendary hero of the Kyrgyz, Manas, is traditionally narrated by a skilled reciter ("Manas-chi").

Handicrafts : The range of handicrafts reflects the local materials available for the design of artistic objects for daily usage. Felt products: carpets (alaky, shyrdak), yurts, small felt items; e.g. the Kyrgyz national hat (kalpak); Wool and thread products: woven carpets (chadar); embroidered wall hangings (tush-kiiz); horse blankets; saddle bags.


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