A retrospective on Uzbek heritage

It’s a fact that Uzbek culture is one of the richest among the world. Certainly, this can be explained by the history of the region that’s now called Uzbekistan.Historically, Turk, Russian, Greek, Chinese and Persian tribes had their influence in the Uzbek culture, making it the crossroad of Central Asia.However, it has come to my attention that many ignore the contributions of Uzbek heritage.


In fact, through time, what is now Uzbekistan has produced great thinkers, poets, and writers whose legacy has improved humanity's general culture. Thus, a great example is Al-Biruni. He was born in a neighbourhood of Kath, in Khwarezm, which is now part of modern-day Uzbekistan, near Urganj. Al-Biruni made significant contributions to the domains of mathematics, philosophy, medicine, and science.Moreover, he is said to have researched the theory of the Earth's rotation about its axis and revolution around the Sun. Al-Biruni lived in the 11th century and wrote several geographical works about India as well as a variety of natural science and humanities literature. Therefore, his addition to many diverse fields is undeniable.


Furthermore, one couldn’t talk about Uzbek heritage without mentioning Ulugbek. Indeed, Ulugbek was an astronomer and mathematician, who established a prominent observatory at Samarkand in the 15th century. In 1429, the greatest observatory ever created which was designed by Ulugbek was inaugurated. Additionally, Ulugbek’s influence was significant not only in today’s Uzbekistan but also synonym of great development in the Central Asian region. He was known for his contributions to astronomy-related mathematics like trigonometry and spherical geometry, as well as his broad interests in the arts and intellectual pursuits. Many scholars afterwards regarded Ulugbek as the most important observational astronomer of the 15th century. In Samarkand and Bukhara, he founded the Ulugbek Madrasah, transforming the cities into Central Asian cultural centres of learning.Consequently, Ulugbek’s influence still has its significance today.


Lastly, another great scholar was Mir Alicher Navoï who is considered by many as the founder of Turkic literature. Other than his great input in the Turkic language, he was also a talented artist and composer.


It goes without saying, that Uzbek heritage is also rich in the field of architecture through its monuments. The mausoleum of the monarch Ismail I or also called the Samanid mausoleum in Bukhara, the enormous mosques and mausoleums of Samarkand  and many other exquisite mosques, palaces, and madrasahs make up Uzbekistan's great cultural heritage. One of the consequences of the richness of Uzbek heritage is that nowadays, Uzbekistan has “four cultural World Heritage properties which are living historic cities:the historic center of Shakhrisyabz, the historic center of Bukhara, Samarkand- crossroads of cultures and Itchan Kala in Khiva.”


To conclude, even though Uzbek culture isn’t commonplace knowledge, their contribution to humanity is evident. In addition, Uzbekistan's cultural heritage is vibrant and distinct; it has evolved through thousands of years, incorporating the traditions and customs of the many peoples who have lived in the country's current area. Uzbekistan’s culturally rich past has a long history. It can be observed in museums, theatres, historical monuments, and other cultural and artistic institutions in the country.


Gökçe Özciftci - EU-Uzbekistan Project Officer