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The People of Uzbekistan, Way of Life

buzkashi, baiga, thick noodles, velvet dresses, Uzbeks

Uzbeks are among the most traditional of the Central Asian peoples. Traditional clothing is often worn on a daily basis, although Western-style clothing is also worn in the cities. Traditional menís wear includes brightly colored striped robes, black boots, and embroidered skullcaps or turbans. Women wear colorful silk, cotton, or velvet dresses and head scarves. The Uzbek cuisine is distinctive, yet some Uzbek dishes, such as palov, are eaten throughout Central Asia. (Palov is a pilaf of rice, meat, vegetables, and sometimes dried fruit.) Other staples of the Uzbek diet include kabob (barbecued kebabs, especially mutton), laghmon (long, thick noodles often used in soups), and many varieties of bread, called non. Green tea is a common beverage. Common recreational activities include soccer and wrestling, and traditional horseback games are played on special occasions. One such game, known by various names throughout Central Asia (including ulaq, baiga, and buzkashi), is said to date from the days of Genghis Khan in the 13th century.

Uzbeks take great pride in providing hospitality for guests. By custom guests are accorded the best of everything, even during times of economic hardship. Uzbeks maintain close family ties, and in rural areas many members of an extended family may live in one household. Many of the rural poor live below the poverty line. Former Communist officials tend to be the wealthiest and most privileged group in Uzbekistan. Although they have broken their ties with the Communist Party, they have retained control over the economy since independence.

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