From the History of the Karshi Musical Culture

Issue #2 • 1602

In the antiquity and early Middle Ages musical art of Karshi and Kashkadarya oasis entered the areal of the Sogdian culture sharing its main indicators and attributes. Judging from few today’s findings, that time music of the region, like in other historical and cultural regions, was used in two main areas – in case of various religious practices and during celebrations and entertainments (conventionally for “secular” purposes).

The most important among archaeological findings related to music is the small terracotta sculpture containing 7 female figures with musical instruments from the site of ancient settlement of Erkurgan in Karshi region (1, p. 194, fig. 156) dated 3rd-4th centuries A.D. It shows the musical instrument – lute, but in two varieties and positions.

Following description given by R.Suleimanov, the four-fragmented terracotta presents the lute with the round body, where all the four copies “”make up one iconographic type, although stamped in different matrixes”. One can see 3 strings on the lutes of this type. In case of other iconographic indicators it can be discovered in the Afrosiab findings dated the 1st –3rd centuries A.D. kept in the State Hermitage of Russia and in the Russian State Historical Museum in Moscow (2, p. 93, fig. 99-101; p. 95, fig. 102-104, p. 92-94). Comparison of the Erkurgan and Afrosiab findings allows supposing that Erkurgan lute with the big round body and short fingerboard belongs to a common Sogdian type. Musicologists in their researches (T.S.Vyzgo, in particular) distinguish these lutes as a separate group.

Erkurgan lute with the elongated body and two strings shown as two drawn furrows is presented on three terracotta with different positions of the instrument: high on the chest and under the chest. Position of the instrument (under the chest) is met on the terracotta of the female lute-player from the Pachaltepa site near Yakkabag and on the Afrosiab terracotta kept in the Hermitage (3, p. 41-43; 2, p. 93, fig. 96-98). This type is close (but not identical) to 4-string lutes on the famous Airtam frieze. Such two-string lutes have been, particularly, fixed in the Tashkent oasis (frieze with the female lute-player from Kanka dated later). Therefore this type of the lute can be considered to be characteristic of the entire historical and cultural region of Sogd.

It is significant that sculptures of the female “lute-players” from Erkurgan are naked (with the presence of jewelry ornaments). Tradition to depict naked musicians is not new, its origin dates back to the ancient front Asian and Hellenistic civilizations. It is proved by the findings from Khorezm and is fixed on other terracotta originating from Sogd. However there appears the image of the naked male musician (4, p. 29-31, 34-35). In this lies one of the differences of the local “musical cult”.

A unique ossuary looking like a clay rectangular box depicting musicians dated the 6th-7th centuries A.D. was found in Yakkabag district in 1984 (5. p. 46-51; p. 174-181). The ossuary depicts the complicated multi-figure composition of polysemantic musical symbolism – dancing deities and musicians. There are male and female four-hand deities in a dancing pose. The man probably has a string instrument of a tambour-like type with a long thin fingerboard and a small body. At the feet of the male image with the lute-like instrument of another type (big body and short finger-board) is placed a female musician playing with the help of the plectra. Two more musicians are at the goddess’s feet – one with two wind instruments – straight and horn-like tubes, another one – with two small drums. Probably we have here the sample of the ensemble performance that in the context of the general scene was connected with the funeral rite.

We also know some other findings of the artistic material from Kashkadarya with the musical plots, particularly, the roof with the anthropomorphic model depicting a dancing figure (6, p. 50-52) and a detail, probably, of a wind instrument of the nai type, or a case made of cortical bone found on the floor of the Erkurgan sanctuary II (1, fig. 189-3).

During the Middle Ages Karshi was under the influence of different musical traditions, the most remarkable among them was the Bukhara culture (at the end of the 19th- beginning of the 20th century the city was the part of the Bukhara Emirate). Karshi gave birth to many famous writers, poets, scientists, scholars and musicologists. For example, there was born Zaia ad-Din Nahshabi, the author of ‘Tuti-name’ (‘Parrot’s Book’, 1330) that was written in India in the Persian language. Its two sections are dedicated to music and musical science, particularly, to the description of the system of classical music of that time – 12 parda. This essay, being very popular in Central Asia, was translated into the Uzbek language and published in the form of a lithograph (particularly in 1904 in Tashkent in O.A.Portsev’s printing lithography house). The great Tadjik poet Saidoi Nasafi was also born in Karshi. His ‘Divan of Poems’ contains much information of that time music. Especially interesting is his poem ‘Shahr-I Ashub’.

Amateur and Folk Music Art of Kashkadarya is diverse and has many forms and genre of traditional music. Musical folklore of the region like anywhere in Uzbekistan is divided into genres stipulating rites and rituals without the context of which their exercising becomes impossible; and into genre that are independent of any rites and can be exercised in the everyday life.

The stratum of the Kashkadarya musical folklore concerned with rites – customs, rituals and calendar holidays – is presented by the main typical genre of the Uzbek tradition that accompanies people from the day of his birth (lullaby – alla, wedding, work-song and others) and up to the last day of his life. Many songs in this region are bound to the labor process, for example, “Yezi” (performed during haymaking time), “Maida” (during threshing time) and etc. (7). Funeral rituals in Kashkadarya like anywhere in Uzbekistan are characterized by male and female weeping songs (erkalar yighi, ajollar yighi) performed by the close relatives of the dead (8, p. 34-36). Being one of the oldest types of ritual motets, the weeping songs in Kashkadarya have their local peculiarities depending on the representation performance by different groups and tribes (kungrats, manghits and the like).

Funeral ritual sadr (analogous to zukr) has a more complicated musical drama form. It usually consists of mournful dances (raks) having special rhythmic formula (usul) and special mournful motets (8, p. 40-48). On the whole the Kashkadarya sadr has much in common with the similar ritual in other parts of Uzbekistan and Tadjikistan, although it possesses some local peculiarities. Also different are male and female sadrs performed by the groups of people in the mazar’s territory (kabriston). Sadr is based on the principle of a dialogue, in which the main text is sung out by the leading singer of the guyand (aituvchi) at the background of the refrain – constantly repeated formula by the chorus of the participants (“Eh, vokh, Khusan”, “Hai, shokh Khusain”, “Eh, Olloh” and others). This ritual having the pre-Islamic roots exposes close links with the Shiite’s doctrine similar to ashura rituals integrated with the Sunnite’s environment.

Musical folklore that has not been stipulated by the ritual practices is also represented in Kashkadarya by a large number of song genres and instrumental melodies. Roshuk, terma, yalla, beshkarsak song cycle and others are very popular song genres. They are traditionally performed in the course of different male klatches, basma-meetings (gashtak), weddings and various types of listening aimed at aesthetical delight, entertainment or rest, accompanied with doira playing and hands-clapping (karsak). Dombra is widely used to accompany their performance, as it is particularly popular in the region. Makoms as the urban culture art has not spread here. However many musicians from Kashkadarya include classical Uzbek and Tadjik pieces of music. Kashkadarya with its steppe expanses and agricultural way of life has preserved its rich traditions. Famous Kashkadarya bakhshis and shairs perform dastan epical poems. Song cycle beshkarsak (literally “five claps”), its separate parts (yakkakars and kushkars) exist as a separate genre including dance as their most important component.

As for now, practically all-famous Uzbek musical instruments are played in Kashkadarya. But Dombra remains the most spread and popular instrument among them. It possesses an extensive repertoire of different plays. Significance of the instrument to the nation is evidenced by the existence of the term called “Dumbriam” (“My Dombra”) whish praises the instrument and describes the details of its production as well as its sacral connection with the patrons of the musical craft.

Modern musical culture. Karshi is the Motherland of many contemporary Uzbek singers and musicians (10, p. 37-39; 99-101). The art of the late Tojiddin Muradov, People’s Khafiz of Uzbekistan (Uzbekistan Khalk khofizi) is very popular among the lovers of traditional singing in Uzbekistan. He was born in 1939 in Jeinov kishlak of the Usman Yusupov district of Kashkadarya region. He worked at the regional musical drama theatre and taught music at a general school. He was also active in the musical creativity, participated in the Republican and all Union musical festivals and competitions. His repertoire included such widely known classical works like “Guluzorim”, “Nasrulloi”, “Eh, sabo” (gazelles by A.Navoi), “Girya” (Zavki’s gazelle), “Gamsasin sevding kunghil” (Fuzuli’s gazelle), “Bajet- 1”, “Khorazm Chorgokhi” (Avaz Uar’s gazelle), as well as Tadjik, Azerbaijani and Turkmen songsa`.

People’s Khafiz of Uzbekistan, Ulmas Saidjonov, was born in 1951 in Tuyaboshi kishlak of the Quitab district of Kashkadarya region. As a gifted singer he disclosed himself in 1972 when he became the winner of the Republican television competition “Makhrabo Talantlar”. In 1974 he won the Moscow youth competition and got a special prize at the festival “Shark Taronlari” (Samarkand, 1999). He considers Mamurjon Uzakov, the famous performer in ratta-ashula genre, his teacher and loves such singers like Jurakhon Sultanov, Mamanbuva Sattorov, Orif Alimakhsumov, Maarufkhuja Bakhodirov, Barno Isokova and others. Creative priorities of U.Saidjonov focus mainly in the katta-asula genre (Mamurjon Uzakov’s repertoire) and Fergana-Tashkent makoms. He is widely guided by the classical Uzbek poetry by Navoi, Furkat, Mukimi, Ogakha, Mashrab, Nodira and other masters of word.

Music is widely represented in the creative work of Karshi theatres. Based on the Karshi and Shakhricabz amateur groups the regional musical and drama theatre named after Mulla Tuichi Tashmukhamedov was established in 1932. For a long time (in 30-40) it was dealing mainly engaged with concert performances. Original and organic implementation of the traditional music was accomplished by the theatre-studio “Eski Masjid” (director and art director Isok Turaev). The theatre has renewed on the stage folklore musical genres and rituals, widely using folklore typical of the Karshi region and different musical instruments. Thus the “Raksu Sama” performance (stage work by Ovlyakuli Khodgakuli) has demonstrated forms of carrying out zikral ritual typical of the region.

Karshi musical art is the original part of the Uzbekistan musical culture. On the one hand, it continues preservation of development of bright local traits and signs; on the other hand, rather organically and variously discloses the common national style of the country. It is susceptible to multiple influences of musical traditions from other regions; it successfully assimilates and presents them in its own artistic interpretation. Like the entire musical culture of Uzbekistan, the Karshi art bears a very complicated genre and stylistic structure which contains its own heritage of traditions and musical innovations of the contemporary contradictive artistic process. On the whole striving for revitalization of true traditional musical values characterizes the musical art of Karshi and reflects the general trend of cultural development of Uzbekistan during the independence period.

Alexander Djumaev

Pin It

Comments are closed.