Celebration of Nowruz in Bukhara and Samarkand in ritual practice and social discourses (the second half of the 19th to early 20th centuries)

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Celebration of Nowruz across a vast territory from the Ottoman Empire to Xinjiang had both common features and differences. This study focuses on distinctions between the festive traditions of two major cities of the Zerafshan Valley (Bukhara and Samarkand) in the late 1800s and early 1900s, when, after Russia ’s annexation of the region, the Nowruz ritual practices were transformed and subjected to critical discourses among theologians and enlighteners. On the basis of unpublished archival sources, memoirs, and studies of Imperial Russian history, I analyze two types of Nowruz: official and folk. In the Emirate of Bukhara, a broad official celebration of Nowruz was started by Emir Muzaffar, who sought to strengthen the image of the Manghit dynasty during the crisis of political legitimacy. This gave rise to disputes among Islamic intellectuals about the need for a large-scale and prolonged celebration of Nowruz, which they felt went beyond the borders of Islamic tradition. In Samarkand, closer contacts between the settled Tajiks and Uzbeks, on the one hand, and the semi-nomadic Turkic-speaking population, on the other, enhanced the synthesis of agricultural and pastoral elements in the ritual practice of Nowruz. The festival was legitimized by prayers at mosques, and visits to the mazars of Muslim saints and to sacred streams. In Samarkand, following its annexation by the Russian Empire, there was no official celebration of Nowruz, and the scale of popular celebration decreased.


Islam, zerafshan valley, ritual practice, discourses, legitimation

Короткий адрес: https://readera.org/145145991

IDR: 145145991   |   DOI: 10.17746/1563-0102.2020.48.2.122-129

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