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The Culture of Tajikistan has developed over several thousand years. Historically, Tajiks and Persians come from very similar stock with a mutual language and are related as part of the larger group of Aryan peoples. Tajik culture can be divided into two areas, Metropolitan and Kuhiston(Highland). Ancient towns such as Bukhara, Samarkand, Herat, Balkh and Nishopur Khiva are no longer part of the country. More modern centres include Dushanbe (the capital), Khudjand, Kulob, Panjikent and Istarvshan.


Historical background

In order to understand Tajik culture it is necessary to look back to the time of Transoxiana, (an area that lies between the Amu Darya and Sir Darya rivers and modern north-west Afghanistan), and the centres of civilization of the Nile, Mesopotamia and the banks of the Yangtze. The Tajiks' ancestors were from Scythian Indian or European tribes who were nomads of the Eurasian steppes and were among the first to settle in Central Asia about 4000 years ago.


A family celebrating Eid in Tajikistan.
Main article: Religion in Tajikistan

Zoroaster, the prophet of Zoroastrianism, was born in the Balkh area, (northern Afghanistan and Transoxania) and was possibly Bactrian (the partial ancestors of the Tajiks). Zoroastrianism had been adopted by Persian emperors as a state religion and was practiced during the Samanid era in central Asia until being overrun by the Arabs. The Shahs of Somoni made Bukhara their residence and a focal point for art and science as well as an administrative center. In this period, the personal interest and support of the Shahs in the arts and sciences, along with international trade, and the relatively stable political situation in the Silk-Road region, all contributed to Tajik art and science at its zenith.

The largest celebration to come from the pre-Islamic period is Navruz, which means "New Day". It is held on March 21 or 22, when the cultivation of the land starts. During Navruz, many families visit relatives, throw out old belongings, clean the house and play field games. Special dishes are also served. Other Pre-Islamic Tajik traditions like fire-jumping, dancing round the fire and fighting 'devils' with fire, still occur in the more remote regions.

A 1000 years after the Samanid period saw another cultural revival; this time due to the Soviets. They introduced modern drama, opera and ballet. Poets such as Mirzo Tursunzoda, Mirsaid Mirshakar and Loik Sherali, novelist and historian Sadridin Aini, all had input, as did professors M Ishoki and Osimi, scholar Sotim Ulughzoda, novelist Jalol Ikromi, and anthropologist and historian Bobojon Ghafurov. In 1969,Malika Sobirova won a gold medal in an international ballet competition.

Since independence, there has been a pre-Soviet cultural revival in an attempt to foster a sense of national identity. Novelist Taimur Zulfikarov and professors Rahim Masov[1] and Bozor Sobir being prominent.

Tajikstan's government is known as being intolerant of some religious faiths, such as Jehovah's Witnesses, and demolishing religious buildings[2].


A meal table spread in Tajikistan
Main article: Cuisine of Tajikistan

Tajik cuisine has much in common with Uzbek, Cuisine of Afghanistan, and Iranian cuisine, and developed from Persian cuisine. It features such dishes as kabuli pulao, qabili palau, and samanu. The national food and drink are plov and green tea, respectively. Traditional Tajikistani meals begin with small dishes of dried fruit, nuts, and halwa, followed by soup and meat, before finishing with plov. Tea accompanies every meal and is often served between meals as a gesture of hospitality. It is often drank unsweetened. Tajik cuisine offers a large variety of fruit, meat, and soup dishes.


Main article: Cinema of Tajikistan

Tajikistan's film industry began in the 1930s. Mohsen Makhmalbaf's film Sex & Philosophy from 2005 was set and produced in Tajikistan, as was the film Angel on the Right by Jamshed Usmonov from 2002.


Main article: Music of Tajikistan

Traditional Tajik music is closely related to other Central Asian music forms. Shashmaqam is the predominant style of Tajik folk music, though falak is popular in southern Tajikistan. The Pamaris of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province have their own distinct style of music as well.


Main article: Literature of Tajikistan

Traditional centers of Tajik literatures were Samarkand and Bukhara, however these cities are now in Uzbekistan. In recent history, Tajik literature has been predominantly social realist. Though Tajiks do not draw a line between their own literature and general Persian literature, there have been a few notable Tajik writers and poets. The standardization of the Tajik language has shaped Tajik literature in recent decades as well.

Ethnic groups

Main article: Demographics of Tajikistan

Tajiks make up almost 80% of the population, though this number includes many Pamiris. Uzbeks make up 15% of the population, and Russians and Kyrgyz 1% each. There are also significant German and Armenian populations.



  1. ^ See Rahim Masov's book on modern Tajik identity: Rahim Masov, The History of the Clumsy Delimitation, Irfon Publ. House, Dushanbe, 1991 (Russian). English translation: The History of a National Catastrophe, transl. Iraj Bashiri, 1996.
  2. ^ Forum 18 (2007), News Service,, retrieved 2007-10-19  

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