Thursday, January 14, 2016

Postcards from Uzbekistan: The Kalta Minor Minaret, Khiva

Go to Postcards from Uzbekistan: The Kalta Minor Minaret, Khiva: This Postcard video comes from Euronews and features the north west of Uzbekistan and the ancient city of Khiva. Behind the fortress of the inner-town called Itchan-Kala, visitors are met with the beautiful site of the Kalta Minor, which means short minaret – but is also known as the Unfinished or Blue Minaret. It is one of the most beautiful structures in all of Central Asia - its really quite amazing up close!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Uzbekistan Potashi issues stamp on the Aral Sea Catastrophie

Photo: The stamp shows an image of a ship stranded by the ecologic catastrophe that has led to the drying out of the Aral Sea. The stamp block is 52x37mm. (Issue 7,000)

Source :

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Bats of Uzbekistan


A bats' most distinguishing feature is that their forelimbs are developed as wings, making them the only mammals in the world naturally capable of flight. Around 1,000 bat species can be found worldwide. They make up a quarter of all mammal species, some bats consume insects others fruit and nectar. Some are carnivorous preying on small mammals, birds, lizards and frogs/fish. Some bat populations number in the millions, others are dangerously low or in decline.
Uzbekistan 2001 Endangered Animals Stamps: Bats 7 value set featuring Hemprich's Long-eared Bat, Greater Noctule Bat, Lesser Horseshoe Bat, Noctule, Eastern Barbastelle, European Free-tailed Bat and Myotis frater.
Bats have evolved a highly sophisticated sense of hearing. They emit sounds that bounce off of objects in their path, sending echoes back to the bats. From these echoes, the bats can determine the size of objects, how far away they are, how fast they are traveling and even their texture, all in a split second.
Bats find shelter in caves, crevices, tree cavities and buildings. Some species are solitary while others form colonies of more than a million individuals. For their size, bats are the slowest reproducing mammals. At birth, a pup weighs up to 25 percent of its mother’s body weight, which is like a human mother giving birth to a 15kg baby. Offspring typically are cared for in maternity colonies, where females congregate to bear and raise the young. Male bats do not help to raise the pups.
In Uzbekistan the following bat species have been found (this list is not exhaustive but the main bat species in Uzbekistan are):

 Order: Chiroptera

Family: Vespertilionidae

Subfamily: Myotinae Genus: Myotis

Long-fingered bat Myotis capaccinii Vu

Geoffrey's bat Myotis emarginatus Vu

Natterer’s bat Myotis nattereri Lr/Lc

Whiskered bat Myotis mystacinus Lr/Lc

Fraternal myotis Myotis frater Lr/Nt

Subfamily: Vespertilioninae Genus: Eptesicus

Bobrinski's bat Eptesicus bobrinskoi Lr/Lc

Botta's serotine Eptesicus bottae Lc

Serotine Eptesicus serotinus Lr/Lc

Northern Bat Eptesicus nilssonii  Lc

Subfamily: Vespertilioninae Genus: Nyctalus  

Lesser noctule Nyctalus leisleri Lr/Nt

Greater noctule bat Nyctalus lasiopterus Lr/Nt

Subfamily: Vespertilioninae Genus: Pipistrellus

Common pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus Lc

Kuhl’s pipistrelle Pipistrellus kuhlii Lc

Savi’s pipistrelle Hypsugo savii Lc

Subfamily: Vespertilioninae
Genus: Hemprichii

Hemprich's long eared Bat Otonycteris hemprichii Lc.

Order: Chiroptera

Family: Rhinolophidae 

Subfamily: Rhinolophinae Genus: Rhinolophus

Bokhara horseshoe Bat Rhinophus bocharicus Lr/Lc

Greater horseshoe bat Rhinolophus ferrumequinum Lr/Nt

Lesser horseshoe bat Rhinolophus hipposideros Lc


Vu vulnerable  Lr/Lc  Low Risk/Less concern Lr/Nt Low risk/Not threatened

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Regional Uzbek Dialects

About 25 million people speak Uzbek as their native language, it is spoken in Uzbekistan and parts of ; north western and eastern Turkmenistan, northern and western Tajikistan, southern Kazakhstan, northern Afghanistan, and northwestern China. Uzbek belongs to the southeastern, or Chagatai, branch of the Turkic languages (part of the Altaic family of languages).

Uzbek is closely related to both Uyghur and Kazak. Although numerous local dialects and variations of the language are in use, the Tashkent dialect is the basis of the official written language. Especially in the written dialect, Uzbek also has a strong Persian vocabulary element that stems from the historical influence of the Persian language in Central Asia.

Uzbek dialects are diverse and have elements of all three Turkic dialect groups such as Qarluq, Qipchaq, and Oghuz. There are many classifications of Uzbek dialects, based on phonetic and lexical features. The main classifications and their proponents are: Iranised and Non-Iranised dialects (Polivanov), “O” dialect group and “A” dialect group (Borovkov), Qarluq-Uyghur-Chigil, Qipchaq, and the Oghuz dialect groups (Reshetov).
Grammatical Features
The Uzbek language shares most features common to most of the Turkic languages:
  • Uzbek is an agglutinative language;
  • Suffixes are added to a word in a fixed order;
  • Uzbek lacks grammatical gender;
  • Uzbek is a Subject-Object-Verb order language;
  • In Uzbek there are no definite and indefinite articles, instead the word “bir” and the accusative case marker are used to express indefiniteness and definiteness;
  • In Uzbek there are various participles, gerunds, and verbal nouns that replace relative clause structures found in English;
  • In Uzbek modifiers precede the modified head nouns;
  • In Uzbek word roots are mostly monosyllabic;
  • In Uzbek most words carry stress on the final syllable.
In the creation of a new literary language after the Russian Revolution of 1917, a dominant role was first played by the northern dialects and later by the southern dialects. The latter serve as the basis of the current literary language. Vowel harmony is not reflected in modern literary Uzbek as it is not used in either the Tashkent and Ferghana dialects.  Uzbek has been written in the Arabic, Latin, and Cyrillic scripts.

 In 1993 the government of Uzbekistan officially reinstated a modified Latin alphabet for the Uzbek language. Despite the official status of the Latin script in Uzbekistan, the use of Cyrillic is still widespread, especially in advertisements and signs. In newspapers, scripts may be mixed, with headlines in Latin and articles in Cyrillic.
The term Uzbek as applied to language has meant different things at different times. Prior to 1921 "Uzbek" and "Sart" were considered to be different dialects. "Uzbek" was a vowel-harmonised Qipchak dialect spoken by descendants of those who arrived in Transoxiana with Shaybani Khan in the 16th century, who lived mainly around Bukhara and Samarkand, although the Turkic spoken in Tashkent was also vowel-harmonised; whereas "Sart" was a Qarluq dialect spoken by the older settled Turkic populations of the region in the Fergana Valley and the Kashka-Darya region, and in some parts of what is now the Samarkand Province; it contained a heavier admixture of Persian and Arabic, and had no or only a modified form of vowel-harmony.

Qipchak-Uzbek dialects spoken in southern Kazakhstan, Karakalpakstan and parts of Khoresm are close to both Karakalpak/Kazakh.

In Khiva and northern eastern Turkmenistan the Uzbek dialects are heavily influenced heavily by the neighbouring Oghuz (Turkmen) speaking population.

Other Links:
Orthographic Rules for the Uzbek Language:

Outline of Uzbek Grammar:

Friday, January 1, 2016

Ghenghis Khan and his influence on Uzbekistan

The rule of Khwarezm shahs came to an end in 1220  when Mongol armies under Genghis Khan swept through the country.

After the conquest of China in 1218 Genghis Khan started plans for the invasion of Mawarannahr. In 1218-1219, a host of Mongols under the command of Ghengis Khan's general Jebe (the arrow) occupied the Kharnate of Kara-Khitan (now western china). In September 1219. Ghengis Khan came to Otrar, where he divided his army  one under the command of his sons Ogadey and Chagatai to siege Otrar; another was given to Jochi and sent in the direction of Jend for the seizure of the towns along the banks of the Syr-Darya while he himself, with his son Tolui, headed for Bukhara.

The Khwarezm Empire which at that time controlled Mawarannahr (today's Uzbekistan) was not ready for the invasion of such a powerful enemy. The Mongols conquered and destroyed the oasis cities one after another. They first sacked Bukhara in February, Samarkand in March and by the autumn of 1220 Termez. When the mongols attacked Urgench (now Kunya-Urgench) in April 1221 the Khorezm Shah Muhammad beat a hastily retreat leaving his eldest son, a talented military commander Manguberdi to defend against the Mongolian invasion. It is said that Ghengis Khan oldest son Jochi engaged in negotiations with the defenders trying to get them to surrender so that as much of the city as possible was undamaged. This angered his older brother Chaghatai, and Genghis headed off this sibling fight by appointing Ögedei the commander of the besieging forces as Urgench fell. But with the removal of Jochi from command the Mongol forces proceeded to sack the city with great ferocity. As usual the artisans were sent back to Mongolia, young women and children were given to the Mongol soldiers as slaves, and most of the rest of the population was massacred.  Then came the complete destruction of the city of Gurjang. Upon its surrender the Mongols broke the dams and flooded the city, then proceeded to execute the survivors. It is said by historians that up to 1 million people were killed during the sacking of the cities and towns of Khoresm oasis; making it at that time (and holding right up until the carnage of the 20th century) the bloodiest massacre in human history. According to legend Genghis Khan is famously quoted as saying "I am the punishment of God. If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent punishment like me upon you".
The Mongol invasion of Central Asia which took place from 1219 to 1225 is one of the turning points in the history of the region and led to a wholesale change in the population of Mawarannahr. The conquest quickened the process of Turkification in the region because, although the armies of Genghis Khan were led by Mongols, they were made up mostly of Turkic tribes that had been incorporated into the Mongol armies as the tribes were encountered in the Mongols' southward sweep. As these armies settled in Mawarannahr, they intermixed with the local populations, increasingly making the original Iranian speaking inhabitants a minority. Another effect of the Mongol conquest was the large-scale damage the warriors inflicted on cities such as Bukhoro and on regions such as Khorazm. As the leading province of a wealthy state, Khorasm was treated especially severely. The irrigation networks in the region suffered extensive damage that was not repaired for several generations.

After the death of Genghis Khan in 1227 his vast empire split into several parts governed by his sons and grandsons. The northwest part of Uzbekistan joined the Golden Horde, possession of Genghis Khan’s firstborn Jochi, and the remaining part of the country known as the Chagatai Ulus passed to his brother Chaghatai (1227-1241). Despite the potential for serious fragmentation, Mongol law maintained an orderly succession for several more generations, and control of most of Mawarannahr stayed in the hands of direct descendants of Chaghatai, the second son of Genghis. This orderly succession allowed prosperity and internal peace to prevail in the Chaghatai lands, and the Mongol Empire as a whole remained strong and united for more than a century after the great Khan's passing.

Chaghatai's descendant  Khan Kepek (1318-1326), a Jagataid, moved his capital to Maverannehr (now Uzbekistan and southern Kazakhstan). He built a palace near Nesef, which became the core of a large new city of Karshi (administrative centre of the present-day Kashkadarya vilayet). During the reign of his son Tarmashirin (1326-1334) who had converted to Islam, friction developed between two fractions of Mongol nobles; one faction advocated adopting Islam and settled lifestyles, and the other faction strongly adhering to nomadic traditions and pagan beliefs. This strife culminated in the country’s division into Maverannahr proper and Mogulistan. Further as a result of collisions between the two movements and feudal factions, in the late 1350s the Jagataids domain dissipated into more than a dozen petty states.

An interesting aspect is that Temudjin fathered so many offspring than recent genetic studies have found that in fact that of the current population of Central Asia that up to 1 in 10 are likely to be his descendants. This is a source of great pride and I understand that my own kids being Kipchaks are likely decedents as are many other Karakalpaks, Kazakhs and Uzbeks in both Karakalpakstan and in Uzbekistan as a whole.

Numerous studies by teams of biochemists, based on the Y-DNA of modern descendants of Genghis Khan, have indicated that Genghis Khan may have belonged to Haplogroup C-M217. The suggested 25 Marker "Genghis Khan" Y-DNA Profile is:  

Y-STR Name385a385b388389i389ii390391392393394426437439447448449454455458459a459b464a464b464c464d
Zerjal et al. (2003) identified a Y-chromosomal lineage present in about 8% of the men in Central Asia.