Stunning mosques with cerulean domes, grand mausoleums, and buzzing chai-khanas are just some of the memories you will have from your Tashkent trip. If you’re looking to bring back a piece of this marvellous city with you, Amisha suggests nine unique souvenirs to buy from Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
The eclectic vibe of Uzbekistan makes you feel like you’re entering a whole new world in Central Asia. And its capital Tashkent is one of the best places to know how true this is. With a melange of cultures and a heavy influence of its Soviet days, the city holds an exotic appeal. The shades of its cultural mix can easily be seen in the traditional food and handicrafts made by the local people. This also means, there are plenty of interesting souvenirs to take back home! Here are some that you must not miss:
#1 Papier-mâché Puppets
Believe it or not, Tashkent is home to many puppet theatres, even today. The puppets are mostly made with Khiva in Uzbekistan, using papier-mâché, but are easily found in the city’s popular city markets. Regional attire and distinct Uzbek features are what make these glove puppets the perfect souvenirs.
#2 The Nasreddin Statuette
If you go to the bazaars of Tashkent and don’t stop to ask about this funny-looking male figurine, you will miss out on the legend of Uzbekistan. It is based on the character ‘Nasreddin’ from a popular tale, which every Uzbek loves to narrate. You can also find figurines for other characters and animals from their ancient tales and folklore.
#3 Lacquer-Painted Chess Set
Papier-mâché chess sets are intricately painted using striking lacquer, and they’re eye-catching to say the least. You can find these sets in several vibrant colour combinations. Some sets even depict stories of medieval writers, such as Jami and Khayyam.
There are also lacquer-painted miniatures of tables and paintings, based on traditional themes. In fact, the paintings of some Uzbek artists are frequently found in international art exhibits. If such exclusive pieces of art interest you, do visit Tashkent’s art galleries or boutiques. Make sure you retain the purchase receipts of unique pieces, and if you’re lucky enough to find an antique, then you must insist on having all the required authentication certificates to export it.
#4 Ceramic Collectibles
Ceramic ware and artefacts by Uzbekistan’s master craftsmen are loved by art connoisseurs around the world. Turquoise-glazed pitchers, needle-painted ‘Lyagan’ dishes, dragon-shaped candle holders, and delicate tea bowls are great ceramic collectibles from your time in Tashkent. If you look carefully, you may find even some exquisite pieces that have been created by local master craftsmen.
#5 Jewellery & Talismans
Fond of silver and cornelian jewellery? Well, Tashkent is a great place to buy amulets, ‘Kashgar Boldak’ earrings and ‘Tumor’, a talisman with lines of prayer on it. Shades of turquoise dominate all Uzbek jewellery, which makes it unconventional and interesting. Ladies, with so much on offer, you might want to buy more jewellery boxes for these (you’ll get intricate jewellery boxes in Tashkent’s markets)!
#6 Hand-Woven Silk Rugs
Tashkent’s markets sell hand-woven rugs and carpets made from unique Uzbek fabrics like ‘Khan-atlas’, ‘Adras’ and ‘Samarkand Silk’. The carpets are made using different techniques but, if you want something native to the region, you must pick up a piece with ‘Ikat’ or ‘Suzani’ work. Rugs and carpets made here vary in purpose, some are even designed for decorating the walls.
#7 Musical Instruments
Uzbekistan has its own range of regional and some uncommon musical instruments, such as ‘Karnay’, ‘Doira’, ‘Rubab’ and ‘Tanbur’. Most of the strings, percussion and wind instruments found here still retain the original design from centuries ago, when they were first created. Known for their rich and deep sounds, these instruments have been the reason why the music of the region has always seemed distinct and has been loved through the ages. Tashkent’s markets are great places to buy any of these beautifully crafted musical instruments as collectibles.
#8 Carved Wooden Jewellery Boxes
These wooden jewellery boxes made in Tashkent are intricately carved in beautiful floral or geometric patterns. You can also find jewellery boxes that are painted using fancy Islimi-style floral patterns, which look as interesting as the carved ones. Women love jewellery boxes and will always want more than one, so here’s your chance to make them happy.
A ‘Tubeteika’ is a traditional Uzbek skullcap, worn by both men and women. Chust Tubeteika for men, is made from glossy black satin. However, the skullcaps for women are colourful and adorned with little ornaments or decorated with the famous Bukhara gold embroidery. These can definitely be great conversation starters!
Tashkent has an amusing range of items to take back home, wouldn’t you agree? There are many markets in Tashkent but your trip to ‘Chorsu Bazaar’ should be enough to fill you bags with all kinds of souvenirs.
Interested in touring Tashkent?
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Amisha likes to explore lesser-known places and this she does by studying maps. Once at her destination, she digs out eateries serving local food and soaks in the culture through the region’s cuisine. Being a sea person, most of her trips are to beach destinations and she intends to cover destinations along India’s coastline.