Jeynov - "We arrived"
(The Arabs of Uzbekistan - images of traditional culture)
The first Arabs came to Central Asia in 7th century along with victorious Muslim armies. Since then, many preachers, merchants, scholars and warriors continued to arrive in the region from Arab countries. At the end of the 15th - the beginning of the 16th centuries several Arab tribes were forced to migrate to the region from Northern Afghanistan by the decree of a new ruler. The Arabs brought along their holy relics, including one of the most ancient Qur'an manuscripts. Muslims believe it to be the very first copy of the holy text.
It was this manuscript that led us to the Jeynov qishlaq (settlement). We were looking for descendants of the Arabs who arrived in this region long ago. The anthropological forecast was quite unfavorable - traditional Arabic culture was supposed to have disappeared in the Central Asia region. Yet it turned out that Arab culture, their language, customs and traditions still exist. Thus, natives interpret the qishlaq name (ja-yi naw from Persian "New place") as the Arabic ji'na - "we arrived".
The exhibition, which represents a journey around the Jeynov qishlaq, is an attempt to understand the lives of ordinary people inhibiting the region and look at the world from their point of view. We use both traditional museum and modern media technologies to represent ten images of traditional culture: the Qur'an, mosque and prayers, wedding, children, woman, bread, man, cotton, carpet and clay. These images could have been different, but the list given above reflects our conception of the way of life of these people the way we saw it in the spring and autumn of 2004.
The population of Jeynov qishlaq (Kashka Daria region, Mirishkor area of the Republic of Uzbekistan) amounts to about 21,000 people. The majority of them claim to be of Arabic origin. Jeynov people have founded one of the most successful diversified farms in Uzbekistan, the main product being cotton, and use modern agricultural machinery. The qishlaq has 8 schools, a well-equipped hospital and a college with computer and language laboratories. Local residents have about 3,000 cars. Traveling around Jeynov is similar to traveling around multinational Uzbekistan, which has become home to about 140 peoples.
The first exhibition of the "The Expeditions Are Not Over" series has been organized by the Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (the Kunstkamera) Russian Academy of Science in cooperation with the Rosbalt Information Agency, and the Saint Petersburg - 21st Century Producer Center, with the assistance of the International Arab Culture Center "Jeynov" and the "Циfra" printing house, St. Petersburg. The exhibition is timed to coincide with the publication of E. A. Rezvan's book, "The Qur'an of 'Uthman" (Katta-Langar, St. Petersburg, Bukhara, Tashkent).
Special thanks to Mr. Muradullo Saidov, head of the Unit Investment Farm "Jeynov" and the head of the International Arab Culture Center.