Monday, August 30, 2010

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Saddle Horse - Argamak


The Argamak - USSR Stamp 1968

The horse has played an integral role in the lives of the population of Central Asia for millennia. It is generally believed by most experts that the ‘Agramak’ known as the first saddle horse where bred for the first time on what is now the territory of modern Uzbekistan and that the majority of existing breeds of pure blood horses we have today inherited the best qualities of the Argamak. With the famous Uzbek horse breed the Ahaltekin its closest modern relative.

It is known from historical Chinese literature from the Tang Dynasty that in the year 138BC the Emperor Wu Ti sent an expedition over the "Heavenly Mountains" as the Tien Shan range was then known led by the diplomat and General Chang Jiang which took back the valuable Agaramak from an important horse breeding area, Davan in the 'Farg’ona Valley'. Before this time in China there were only the much smaller breeds as the Mongolian mountain horse.

Records of the period show that Agaramak horses were the most expensive merchandise that travelled along the great silk road from Khorazm and Samakand. In China the Argamak horse was venerated, and heards were carefully guarded as they were considered of great value. The Turkic people have always esteemed thier horses and called them “murod” broadly meaning satisfying, purposeful and desirable.

Today one of the main breeds are the “Karabair” who are characterized by their broad chests, small ears and amazing strength and endurance. Other local breeds are the Kurama as well as half breeds of Karabair and Ahaltekin.

Competitions featuring the “Karabair” are held throughout Uzbekistan. One of the most ancient national equestrian games is the “Uloq” in which large opposing sides of horsemen tussle with great ferocity and skill to hold onto a ram or goat carcass.

Uzbeks also call it as “kupkari”, which literally means 'business of many people'. The aim of Kupkari is to grabbing the carcass from rivals and be the first who brings it into the winning post. Only the most quick witted, deft and saddlefast horsememen usually win. The riders has a tunic and trousers made from thick cotton cloth. They put on a papakha 'astrakhan' hat, though leather helmets are now also gaining preference. The riders wrap their legs in thick cloth to avoid an injury, and wear broad-top boots with a thick sole for secure hold in the stirrup. The horses are fitted with smooth bridles, stirups and horsehoes to avoid injury.

According to the rules of the game, two winning posts – marra – are located one and a half kilometers away from each other. The marra is a circle on the ground some 20 meters in diameter. It is marked with scattered straw or laid with stones. The horseman needs to throw the carcass into the circle to score. Winners are awarded a valuable prize such as a carpet or money.It is played usually to in conjunction with Navruz and other national holidays or on special occasions; such as weddings or the the birth of a male heir.

Source: Uzbekistan Today

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Oral Poetry of Karakalpakstan


The pre-eminent form of oral poetry in Karakalpakstan as in most Central Asia is the daston or epic tale. Shorter orally composed poems, often improvised in the course of performance called terma are also popular.

Both the daston and terma are composed in the common genre of Turkic folk poetry known as barmok, which in its canonical form is organized into quatrains, the lines of which contain an identical number of syllables, most commonly 7, 11 or 15.

Both the daston and terma are performed by male bards whom are called Zhirau in Karakalpak. The term also refers to traditional healers who use music as an aid in contacting the spirit world. At some point in the past, the two activities seem to have been linked both socially and psychologically in the work of the same individual; the recitation of musically heightened poetry was understood to have a magical and potentially therapeutic effect on listeners.

The vocal styles of the Karakalpak zhirau feature a guttural, raspy timbre which in contrast to the normal speaking and singing voice, thus creating an artistic and magical distance between everyday experience and the heroic world in which the epics take place.

This special, laryngeally tensed voice is called ichki avoz or ‘inner voice’, in contrast to tashkari avoz, ‘outer voice’. The poet traditionally accompanies himself by strumming on the fretless, two-string Dömbra.

In Karakalpakstan the use of the dömbra has now largely displaced an older style of accompaniment performed on the kobuz, a two-string fiddle with horsehair strings that links the Karakalpaks to the old nomadic Turko-Mongol cultural realm.

In neighbouring Khorezm, there are two styles of epic performance. The Irani style, which shows many affinities to the Khurasani and Turkmen styles of daston performance, where the bakhshi (uzbek term for zhirau) accompanies himself on a dutār and the Shirvani style, where the bakhshi plays the Tār and is accompanied by a violin and doira.

This Shirvani instrumental trio exemplifies the kinship (consanguinity) of the Khorezm bakhshi to the bards of the Western Oghuz Turks (Azerbaijani, Turkmen, Turkish), whom are know as ashuk or ashik.

A number of heroes of the Khorezm daston are called ashik, which suggests that in earlier times this title was used to designate the performer of daston. In the Shirvani style, the narrative alternates between sections of prose recitation in emotionally-heightened speech and melodies drawn from an inventory of 72 noma (melodic forms). The portion of the epic in song comprises a musical form in the pattern of a typical Khorezmian art song in which the texture (tessitura) of the melodic line ascends in successive pairs of stanzas (strophes) to the a musical, and symbolically, a metaphysical culmination (known as the awj), then descends to a well-prepared melodic configuration or series of chords marking the end of a phrase, section, or piece of music (know as cadence).

Throat Singing

This oral poetry of Karakalpakstan and Khorezm enters the realm of throat singing
Another name for throat singing is overtone singing or chanting, or just harmonic singing, is a type of singing in which the singer manipulates the resonances (or formants) created as air travels from the lungs, past the vocal folds, and out the lips to produce a melody.

The partials (fundamental and overtones) of a sound wave made by the human voice can be selectively amplified by changing the shape of the resonant cavities of the mouth, larynx and pharynx. This resonant tuning allows the singer to create apparently more than one pitch at the same time (the fundamental and a selected overtone), while in effect still generating a single fundamental frequency with his/her vocal folds.

Source: http://www.law-guy.com/dummygod/Entries/S41874.htm

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Республика Каракалпакстан



Республика Каракалпакстан

Республика Каракалпакста́н (Каракалпакия, узб. Qoraqalpog`iston Respublikasi, Қорақалпоғистон Республикаси, каракалп. Qaraqalpaqstan Respublikası или Қарақалпақстан Республикасы) — республика в составе Узбекистана.

Республика Каракалпакстан (РК) расположена на северо-западе Узбекистана.

РК имеет свою государственную символику: герб, флаг, гимн, конституцию, правительство. Руководителем РК является Председатель Жокаргы Кенеса (Верховного Совета) РК. Руководителем Правительства РК является Председатель Совета Министров РК. Государственной валютой является узбекский сум.

Столицей Каракалпакстана является город Нукус, в республике существует ещё 12 городов и 14 поселений городского типа. РК разделена на 14 районов. Государственная власть в каждом районе представлена хакимом.

Административное деление

Современное административное деление

Район Узбекское Kаракалпакское Административный
название название центр

Амударьинский (Amudaryo / A’muda’rya) Мангит

Берунийский (Beruniy / Beruniy ) Беруни

Караузякский (Qorao’zak / Qarao’zek) Караузяк

Кегейлийский (Kegeyli / Kegeyli ) Кегейли

Кунградский (Qo’ng’irot / Qon’rat ) Кунград

Канлыкульский (Qanlyko’l / Qanlyko’l) Канлыкуль

Муйнакский (Mo’ynoq / Moynaq ) Муйнак

Нукусский (Nukus / No’kis ) Акмангит

Тахтакупырский (Taxtako’pir / Taxtako’pir) Тахтакупыр

Турткульский (To’rtko’l / To’rtku’l) Турткуль

Ходжейлийский (Xo’jayli / Xojeli ) Ходжейли

Чимбайский (Chimboy / Chimbay ) Чимбай

Шуманайский (Shumanay / Shomanay ) Шуманай

Элликкалинский (Elliqala / Ellikq’ala) Бустан

г. Нукус (Nukus / No’kis ) Нукус

г. Тахиаташ (Taxiatosh / Taxiatash ) Тахиаташ

География

Каракалпакстан расположен на Туранской низменности. С юго-запада к нему вплотную примыкает пустыня Каракумы, на северо-западе находится плато Устюрт, а на северо-востоке пустыня Кызылкум. Территория Каракалпакстана включает также южную половину Аральского моря, на высохшем дне которого теперь формируется новая солончаковая пустыня Аралкум и пересыхающие низовья реки Амударьи.

В Каракалпакстане пустыни занимают более 13,67 млн га (более 80 % территории). Приаралье долгое время медленно опускалось и было ареной аккумуляции осадков мезозейско-кайнозойских морей и сносимых с гор аллювиальных толщ. Это способствовало формированию обширных пластовых и аллювиальных равнин. В их строении принимают участие меловые, третичные и четвертичные отложения. Меловые породы сложены морскими и континентальными образованиями в виде песка и глины в полуостровах Токмаката, Куланды, мыс Актумсык, Бельтау, Кусканатау, Султануиздаг и др. сложены палезойским и мезозойскими толщами и выходами кристаллических пород. Значительно моложе в геологическом отношении северо-западные части пустыни: плато Устюрт — позднетретичного возраста.

Своеобразная форма пустыни — барханные пески.

Территория современной Республики Каракалпакстан является своего рода «археологическим заповедником». На данной территории сегодня насчитывается свыше 300 археологических объектов. В древности эта территория наряду с современной Хорезмской областью и прилегающими районами Туркмении составляла Хорезм.
Каракалпакстан является зоной экологического бедствия в связи с высыханием Аральского моря.

История

Кара-Калпакская АО с центром в городе Турткуль была образована в 1924 году, как составная часть Киргизской АССР (ныне Казахстан), а в 1930 году была переподчинена непосредственно РСФСР. Два года спустя Кара-Калпакская АО была преобразована в АССР, а в 1936 году вошла в состав Узбекской ССР. В 1939 году столицей АССР стал город Нукус. В 1964 году переименована в Каракалпакскую АССР. С 1992 года называется Республика Каракалпакстан.

Население

33 % населения составляют каракалпаки, примерно столько же — узбеки, казахи составляют примерно четверть от общего числа населения. Остальную часть населения составляют представители других национальностей — русские, украинцы, туркмены, корейцы, татары и др.

Примерно половина населения проживает в городах и посёлках городского типа, остальная часть — в сельской местности.

Source: http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Geography of Karakalpakstan

Qoraqalpog‘iston Respublikasi location map

Map of the Qoraqalpog‘iston Respublikasi

Collins location map of Qoraqalpog‘iston RespublikasiClick on link above to see a detiled map

Karakalpakstan is an autonomous republic within Uzbekistan situated between the republics of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

On the east Karakalpakstan occupies the western half of the Kyzylkum Desert, a vast plain covered with shifting sands. The central part consists of the valley and delta of the Amu Darya (river), a low-lying area intersected by watercourses and canals.

On the west the republic includes the southeastern part of the Ustyurt Plateau, a slightly undulating area characterized by flat summits rising to some 300m (292m) above sea level.

The climate is marked by cold winters and hot summers. Average rainfall is only 75 to 100 mm.

Geographical Information for Qoraqalpog‘iston Respublikasi

Place name: Qoraqalpog‘iston Respublikasi
Latitude: 43° 18' 18" N
Longitude: 58° 58' 17" E
Status: autonomous republic
Alternative name: Respublika Karakalpakistan
Other alternative names: Karakalpakstan, Qaraqalpaqstan Respublikasy, Karakalpakskaya Respublika, Qoraqalpoghiston, Qoraqalpog‘iston, Karakalpakskaja Respublika, Karakalpakstan, Respublika Karakalpakistan
Country: Uzbekistan
ISO code: UZ
Currency: Uzbek som
Main languages: Karakalpak,Uzbek,Russian,Tajik,Kazakh
Main religions: Sunni Muslim, Russian Orthodox

Location of Qoraqalpog‘iston Respublikasi in The Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World is plate 41 H6

Source: http://www.britannica.com

Monday, May 24, 2010

Tuti Yusupova - The World's Oldest Woman


ENGLISH

Officials in Uzbekistan have found what may be the world's oldest woman and, if her age is accurate the oldest documented person to have ever lived.

Tuti Yusupova's birth certificate says she was born in 1880, which would make her 128 (2008), six years older than the previously oldest documented person -- Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment, who died at age 122 on Aug. 4, 1997.

Yusupova's records came to light when Safar Hakimov, Uzbek Local Authority Chairman in Tortkol, Karakalpakstan was searching for people over the age of 100 when researching centenarians as part of local plans to celebrate the country's independence anniversary in 2008.

Yusupova worked on a farm until she was 10 years old. She married at age 17, which would mean she married in the 1897/98 (ie. In the 19th century) -- and had two children. Her husband died in 1940. She currently lives with two of her younger grandchildren who are both well in to late middle age. Yusupova has over 100 descendants.

She says her only health problem is that her hearing isn't as good as it used to be. However she likes watching television. Her secret to a long life has been to be honest, hardworking, and helpful.

In 2008, she was awarded the Shukrat medal (Medal of Honor) by President Karimov.

Sources: 01-02-2009 BBC and Xinhua English

Tuti Yusopova, of Uzbekistan (Age: 130 DOB: Jul 1 1880)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7857591.stm
http://www.kp.ru/online/news/695671/
http://news.bcm.ru/doc/8754

UPDATES

RUSSIAN

Тути Юсупова 1 июля праздновала свой 133-й день рождения

В Узбекистане выражают недовольство, что самую старую жительницу планеты Тути Юсупову, которая 1 июля праздновала свой 133-й день рождения, не внесли в книгу рекордов Гиннеса .

Как сообщает новостное агентство 12news.uz со ссылкой на QHA, самая старшая долгожительница в мире, живущая в городе Турткуль вблизи столицы Каракалпакстана, по официальным данным, родилась 1 июля в 1880 году.

«Свое 133-летие Тути Юсупова отметила дома, в кругу близких. Юсупова стала гордостью города и живет вместе с третьим поколением семьи. Юсупова, у которой нет серьезных проблем со здоровьем, с трудом стоит на ногах только из-за ослабшего тела. Свои дни Юсупова больше проводит лежа. Старая женщина, еще не потерявшее зрение и умение говорить, имеет проблемы со слухом, поэтому с ней говорят громко. Однако Юсупову пока так и не внесли в книгу рекордов Гиннеса, что вызывает недовольство близких и местной администрации», — отмечает QHA.

Также сообщается, что Юсупова в 17 лет вышла замуж и родила 2 детей, но в 1940 году потеряла мужа, а следом и сына. Осталась дочь, которой сейчас 100 лет. Дети сына дочери составляют целую родословную. У Юсуповой, проживающей в скромном доме, вместе с внуками, большинство людей района являются родственниками.

http://www.aloqada.com/News/2012/07/06/tuti_yusupova_1_iyulya_prazdnovala_svoy_133_y_den_rozhdeniya

SPANISH

Tuti Yusupova, 131 años, posiblemente, la mujer más vieja del mundo

Tuti Yusupova asegura que su fecha de nacimiento es el 1 de Julio de 1880 en Uzbekistán, con lo que, de ser cierto, tendría hoy en día 131 años de edad. Sin embargo, y aunque dicha fecha consta en su pasaporte, se trata de otro de esos casos en los que la fecha de nacimiento no ha podido ser verificada de forma independiente.

Yusupova trabajó en una granja desde los 10 años de edad, goza de buena salud y su única queja es que está ligeramente sorda. Su secreto para tener una larga vida ha sido trabajar duro, ser honesta y ayudar a los demás.

Viúda desde 1940, tiene más de 200 descendientes en la actualidad. Si su edad es finalmente correcta, sería más longeva que la persona más anciana jamás verificada, como saben los lectores de la Galería, Jeanne Calment.

http://www.galeriadalonxevidade.com/?p=579

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Commercial Helicopters in Uzbekistan


MIL-8MTV Helicopters - Nukus Airport

The main commercial helicopter in Uzbekistan is the MIL Mi-8(Ми-8).

It is a medium twin-turbine transport helicopter that is able to seat up to 28 passengers and operates with a crew of two or three.

Powered by a 2,010 kW (2,700 shp) Soloviev turboshaft engine, they first flew in July 1961.

Used in Uzbekistan  from 1967 by the Soviet National Airline Aeroflot being transferred as with most other Aeroflot assets (in country) to Uzbekistan Airways in 1992.

Uzbekistan Airways MIL Mi-8 Helicopter

Mil Helicopters is the short name of the Soviet helicopter producer Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant, named after the constructor Mikhail Mil.

The first prototype of the Mi-8 the V-8 was designed in 1960 based on the Mil Mi-4. After a few changes it was introduced into service in 1967 as the Mi-8. The Mi-8 remains in production in 2010 with more than 1,500 in service, making it the world's largest and longest produced make of helicopter.

Today the Chirchik Aviation Repair Plant located near Tashkent handles repairs and upgrades of the Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters, parts manufacture, and repairs of other special purpose equipment. It is run by the 'UZROSAVIA JV'. The JV partners from Uzbekistan are the Chirchik Aviation Repair Plant and SE Uzmachsusimpex and from Russia – State Unitary Enterprise Rosoboronexport, UIC Oboronprom, and the Novosibirsk Aviation Repair Plant.  Supported by the Ministry of Economy and Ministry of Defence in Uzbekistan  and the Federal Service of Military-Technical Cooperation and the Ministry of Industry and Trade in Russia.

Russian Helicopters, JSC, and UZROSAVIA (Uzbekistan) in 2009 signed a 5 year agreement in Moscow on the principles of cooperation in service and maintenance of Russian rotorcraft in Uzbekistan and other Central Asian countries.

Photo: Uzrosevia

Saturday, April 24, 2010

FLIGHTS TO AND FROM MOSCOW -> NUKUS

Distance between Moscow-Nukus: 2160 km, average flight time is just under 4 hrs.

















Uzbekistan Airways fly to and from Moscow Domodedovo (DME) Airport on Mondays  using an  A-320. A high-speed Aeroexpress train travels to and from Paveletsky-Moscow to Domodedovo Airport. Journey time: 40-50 minutes.










The Gazpromavia company of Russia has three flights a week connecting Moscow and Nukus, the capital of Karakalpakstan. From Moscow Vnukovo (VKO) airport using the new Yak-42. A fast airexpress train goes from Moscow's Kievsky railway station to Vnukovo Airport. Journey time: 35 minutes.



The cost of taking both airlines similar (see agent).



NOTE: Alongside Nukus Airport another good entry point for western Uzbekistan is Urgench Airport (UGC) located 119 Km away.(Note: Ural Airlines and Uzbekistan Airlines also serve on the Urgench - Moscow route)

Friday, April 23, 2010

UZBEKISTAN AIRLINES


Photo: Uzbekistan Airways Aircraft lined up at Tashkent Airport

Uzbekiston Havo Yullary (Uzbekistan Airways) serves as the backbone of airtransportation services in Uzbekistan and is among the largest airlines services in the CIS. Uzbekistan Airways began operations in 1992 and controls passenger and cargo services to more than fifty destinations throughout the world. One of the many successor airlines to the Soviet national carrier Aeroflot with a history dating back 80 years.

Uzbekistan Airways fleet include the Airbus A300-600RF - Cargo ; Airbus A310-300 ; Avro RJ85 ; Boeing 757-200 ; Boeing 767-300ER ; Ilyushin Il-76 - Cargo ; Ilyushin Il-114 ; Tupolev Tu-154 ; Antonov 24 and the Yak 40.

It also has one of the most developed airline services bases in the CIS as Uzbekistan has an advanced aircraft industry. The Ilyushin Il-76 and Ilyushin Il-114 are both assembled in Tashkent.

Il-76 Cargo












Tu-154





Il-114
 
 
 
 
 
 



It also has a fleet of Airbus-310, Boeing 767 and 757 aircraft for its international long haul routes. 
 
                                                                   
Boeing 757










     A-310
 
Uzbekistan Airways services eleven airports in Uzbekistan, five of which have international status. It travels to destinations in North America, Middle East, South East Asia, East Asia, Western Europe and the CIS.


   











RJ-85

Uzbekistan Airways Technics provides technical services for all its own aircraft and aircraft engines. Including line and base maintenance for the 757/767, A310, RJ-85 aircraft, including C4-check, IL-check, SBs, structure program; also can overhaul Il-62M, Il-76(TD), Il-114 and An-2 aircraft.

Photo: UAT Tashkent









More updated version of Fleet in 2015 see below
 
 

 
 
 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

UZBEK WINES


Central Asian peoples have always enjoyed grapes – fresh or dried to raisin, or fermented.

The climate in many parts of Uzbekistan is nearly perfect for wine production. The country enjoys a continental climate with mild winters and warm to hot summers with low precipitation in the lowlands. However in the upland valleys and mountains rainfall is one metre, more than enough for successful viticulture.

The long hours of sunshine and an abundance of large tracts of irrigated lands has created ideal conditions for the large scale development of the wine industry in Uzbekistan.

Viticulture traces its roots deeply back into history. Vine cultivation first began in the nearby Caucasus region between the Caspian and Black Seas some 5-6,000 years ago. Arabs, Greeks, and other traders are believed to have been the first to import vines from Iran into Uzbekistan by the sixth century B.C.

The Ferghana Valley has long been famous for their luscious grapes. Chinese literature recounts the introduction of grapes into China from the Ferghana Valley during the Han dynasty between (136 to 121 BC) and their planting in Xi'an, the legendary eastern terminus of the Silk Road near China's Yellow River.

Other Archaeological evidence suggests that grapes were being produced by the fifth century B.C. in the Samarkand region.

Viticulture and winemaking is known to have flourished in Uzbekistan up until the seventh century A.D. when with the arrival of Islam production was changed from wines to table grapes and raisins.


Modern wine production began again in the Samarkand region soon after the annexation of Turkestan by Imperial Russian in the middle of the 19th century. New settlers planting grape varieties from Moldova, the Crimea and Georgia.

In 1917 Uzbekistan had some 38,000 hectares of vineyards (mostly owned by individuals). By 1930 most of these vinyards had became part of state farms and collectives producing wine for both local consumption and export to other parts of the Soviet Union (mainly to Russia, the majority of which has climatic conditions unsuitable for wine production).

In 2005 Uzbekistan had just over 264,000 acres of vines (OVI) with more than 40 grape varieties being grown. About half of which are for table grapes rather than winemaking.

Popular wine grape varieties in Central Asia include Aligote, Aleatico, Bayan-shirey, Riesling, Muscat, Soiaki, Khindogny, Kuljinski, Maiski Cherny, Morrastell, Muscat Ottonel, Rkatsiteli, Rubinovy Magaracha amd Saperavi.

A number of vinyards use a mix of early and late ripening varieties so that there will be continuous harvesting for a least 120 days during a year.

Photo: One of my favourites is this dry sweet wine with Japanese style logo from Tashkent producer Meva Shabart

Uzbekistan produces many excellent brands of semi-dry or semi-sweet red wine and sparkling wines to satisfy the local market.


It exports a significant part of its production to Russia (where it is one of the top 10 importers), Kyrgystan and Kazakhstan. (Exports: Russia 60%, Kyrgyzstan 20% and Kazakhstan 15%).

The wine industry of Uzbekistan is led by Uzvinprom-Holding, which produces a wide range of fine wines and spirits. Uzvinprom includes some 65 industrial enterprises, 42 of which are engaged in bottling, 20 in primary wine making and 3 in spirits production.

In Karakalpakstan ОАО Nokis Vinozavod «Нукус вино заводы» produces 15 kinds of vodka but at present no wine. Wine grapes however are grown in southern Karakalpakstan but the production I understand is mainly for household use. In neighbouring Khoresm however their are several commercial vinyards.



Monday, April 19, 2010

The Great Astronomer - Muhammad Taragay Ulugbek

The post office of Uzbekistan has issued two stamps celebrating the 615th anniversary of Ulubek's birth to coincide with the International Year of Astronomy.The two stamps are separated by a label featuring the IYA 2009 logo. The 350 Soum  stamp features the Ulugbek Observatory in Samarkand while the 750 Soum stamp has a statue depicting the great astronomer, mathematician and statesmen Muhammad Taragay Ulugbek.
 

Stamps commemorating the
Ulugbek Observatory in Samarkand.
 
Among his many accomplishments, he was the creator of a number of astronomical catalogues and tables, defining the location of thousands of planets and stars, which even today astound scientists with their accuracy.

Ulugbek was an outstanding scholar of his time and a grandson of the great Аmir Timur. He was born on March 22, 1394 in Sultania, in today's Azerbaijan. The young scholar was brought up by his grandmother, the first wife of Timur, Saray Mulkkhanim and from an early age he displayed a great thirst for knowledge. He was also tutored in theory of music and poetry and had an exceptional memory.


After the Great Amir Timur’s death in February 1405, a struggle for power started among his sons that lasted almost for 5 years. Eventually Ulubek's father, Shahrukh gained power. He made Herat his residence and gave his eldest son Ulugbek Samarkand in 1409 and then the whole of Maveraunnakhr in 1411 to govern.

With an advent of a clever and educated ruler rising to power, Samarkand soon became a major centre for scholarship and intellectual pursuit. During the years 1417-1420 he erected the first madrasah in the Registan (square) where many great oriental scholars of the age lectured. He also built two other important madrasah’s in Gijduvan and Bukhara. The inscription on the entrance portal of Ulugbek’s madrasah in Bukhara proclaims: “It is the sacred duty of every Muslim man and woman to seek after knowledge”

His major passion was for astronomy and he made the construction of a great observatory in Samarkand a key priority. His magnificent three-level observatory was completed by 1428-1429. It was a unique building of its time, built in the stony foothills of the Kuhak hills as they were believed to be more earthquake resistant. The observatory was a round three-storey building with a height of 30.4 m. At the base of the observatory was set in place the azimuth quadrant with a radius of 40.212 meters and arc length of 63 meters. The main instrument its massive sextant was orientated to the meridian line from the south to the north. Other astronomical instruments were also kept in the top levels of the observatory. The size of the sextant, its almost perfect construction and the scientific knowledge of Ulugbek and his fellow scientist-astronomers Qazi-Zadeh Rumi, Djemsnid Giyas ad-Din Kashi, Giyasaddin Jamshid, Ali Kushji, Muhhamad Havofi and others made for much more accurate astronomical observations than any until that time been performed.

The Samarkand observatory became famous after it published the "Ulugbeg Zidj" (Catalogue of the Stars) containing a theoretical introduction and astronomical charts describing 1,018 stars. This was the first such major publication since that of the ancient Greek astronomer Gipparkh (190-126 BC).

This astronomical catalogue of the celestial sky is still considered as one of the greatest historical contributions to the science of astronomy. Besides this, he wrote two other great works, one on the definition of ecliptic movement to the equator and the other on the measurements of the stellar year carried out in the observatory. He determined that the length of the stellar year to be equal to 365 days 6 hours 10 minutes and 8 seconds. Today with all our advanced technology we now known that the star year is equal to 365 days, 6 hours, 9 minutes and 9.6 seconds. Amazingly only a 61.6 seconds difference.

Ulugbek as he got older spent more and more of his time in the observatory and paid less and less attention to government affairs. His eldest son, Abd al-Latif, fell under the influence of a radical religious group (ED: nothing is new sadly) and on a pilgrimage to Mecca, Ulugbek was deceitfully beheaded with Abd-al-Latif’s connivance.After the tragic death of Ulugbek, these same religious fanatics provoked the destruction of his great observatory. The scholars, who worked in this famous scientific centre fled or were killed and the valuable library was plundered. The main building housing the observatory was also destroyed and by the end of the XVII century very little remained of the observatory.

Its location stayed unknown for a long time and it was only in 1908, did the famous Samarkand archaeologist V.L.Vyatkin find the ruins by studying old documents. He excavated the underground remains of the huge quadrant (40m in radius) which was used for the observation of the Sun, Moon and other celestial bodies and restored it to allow people to see this a great achievement of Ulugbeg.

Though he was unable to complete his work, Ali Kushji, a devoted follower of Ulugbek was able to escape Samarkand in time and took his famous catalogue of the stars to Europe where upon  Ulugbek’s name and his scientific achievements became well known. His catalogue of the stars became the most accurate astronomical guide right up until the invention of telescope. The important astronomical tome “The Catalogue of stellar sky” was published during the XVII century in Europe by the Dutchman Jan Geveliy was decorated with beautiful engravings, one of which depicts a symbolic meeting of the greatest astronomers who lived in different countries at different times Ulugbek among them. The inscription over the image of Ulugbek states "I have presented my case seriously" - where Ulugbek stands on the right arm of the goddess of astronomy, Urania.

Source: http://www.fantasticasia.net/?p=351&travel=Mirzo%20Mirza%20Myrza%20Myrzo%20Ulukbek%20Ulugbek%20Uzbek%20ancient%20Uzbekistan