The Beauty of Uzbek Textiles and Embroidery

The textiles of Uzbekistan are world famous, particularly the embroideries known as Suzani, and the magnificent silk weaves know as Khan-Atlas. Suzani are an important part of Uzbek culture, and they are recognized world wide as some of the finest textiles and examples of folk art. The Uzbek people were originally nomadic, and these embroideries were meant to decorate their movable homes. All females were expected to embroider, along with all other homemaking skills. As these techniques spread, they also mingled with the techniques of other cultures along the silk road, as well as with other tribes. For example, one can see the influences of Asia and of Persia in the embroidery of Bukhara. The great courts of royalty were decorated with Suzani, and nowadays, high-end interior decorators and fashion designers get inspiration (and designs!) from this tradition. Today, grandmothers and mothers still pass down the skills to their daughters. While older suzani may command a higher price, if you are not looking for investment alone, look for good technique and imagination in the piece you are looking at. Is it cleanly executed? Is it on silk or cotton?  Is it work intensive, or only sparsely covered? Does it have unusual motifs? And never wash a suzani, even if the vendor tells you it is okay to do so. Always dry-clean!
Silk weaves known as Khan Atlas are still used in clothing, although the real weave (not the prints) are generally reserved for special occasion wear. Most of the best Khan Atlas are woven in Margilan, and scarves and bolts are sold in almost any Uzbek market. Look for a dense, tight weave with a decent heft to the fabric, and bold patterns.

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Planning to Travel the Silk Road in 2014?

It has been such an amazing busy start to the New Year! We have had a lot of visitors ask us travel questions as they plan their next trips to Central Asia and other Silk Road destinations.
We are often asked when is the best time to travel to Central Asia, China, Caucasus? We suggest between April and November and advice that spring and autumn are the seasons for the many great regional festivals. Spring is one of the most beautiful seasons because nature emerges from the sharp continental winter so you can see trees burst into leaf, and flowers bloom in brilliant colors. But autumn provides perfect cool, clear, days that make traveling more enjoyable.
When is the best time to buy your International airline tickets? This question is difficult to answer, most airlines do not release discount tickets before 4 months of departure, but the few low cost tickets often sellout even 9m before departure. So our advice would be to track prices and get experienced on what is a good price and stay within the 9-4m prior to departure for the best prices.
Since all visitors to Central Asia, Caucasus, China, and Russia need to have a visa. Visitors often want to know about the border crossing procedure. Because my first rate team on the ground prepares all the necessary documents for our travelers it is our experience that visitors have a smooth border crossing. It takes from half hour to one and half hour to cross from one border point to the other.
Many of our travelers want to get involved in experiencing the local customs and meet with local people. We recommend that before you travel you learn some useful local words and expressions which you can then practice during your trip and when meeting local people. On our trips you will be able to visit the homes of local people, celebrate the local festivals and sip tea in the local tea houses.
Inspired by the suggestions and ideas from our travelers we have created a special Vegetarian Silk Road Menu for all the visitors to enjoy our local authentic cuisine. Now the vegetarians will have an opportunity to enjoy more than 20 different kinds of Silk Road meals. This menu is available at the major Silk Road cities and also in most of the smaller exotic villages and places.

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New Year Celebration in Central Asia

Central Asia was the center of the Silk Road throughout the centuries and different religions have been existed there. Different holidays and festivities were celebrated by its population who has different nationalities. One of the popular winter holidays is the New Year. People buy and decorate their New Year trees and invite their extended families over for a large feast. This is celebrated at schools and kindergartens as well. Many Christians celebrate also Christmas with their extended families and give gifts to each other. However In Central Asia the traditional New Year begins with Navruz (New Day, New Day of the New Year), the ancient commemoration of the coming of spring that has been celebrated for more than 2,500 years. With roots in pagan times and many of its traditions associated with the Zoroastrian religion of ancient Persia, it is a holiday celebrating how light and warmth win out over the cold and darkness of winter. The celebration begins on the 21st of March, but preparations begin several days beforehand: the villages and homes are cleaned and decorated, old and broken items are discarded, and people get new clothes for the holiday. And not only the homes are cleaned - this is also a time for tidying up one's life, forgiving past offenses and debts, renewing friendships, and establishing an atmosphere of harmony and plenty that will hopefully last throughout the year. Entire town and villages prepare for this festival, cooking dishes exclusive to this season – the tables full to bursting!
Christmas and New Year tours to Central Asia is becoming very popular among our American travelers who would like to meet the new year in Legendary Silk Road Cities of Central Asia or skiing on New Year's day in spectacular Tiyanshan mountains. The travelers are given exotic traditional gifts during the holidays, enjoy the folk and sport shows in the stadiums, taste local cuisine in the streets and most importantly celebrate the festivities with locals.

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