Art and Culture

Cultural symbols can indicate a lot. During the opposition demonstrations in Tajikistan, the main statue of Lenin in Dushanbe was pulled down and replaced by one of Ferdowsi, the 10th century Persian poet. Elsewhere in Tajikistan, Soviet iconography still abounds. In Uzbekistan, where President Karimov is trying to build a post-Soviet sense of nationhood, much is being made of ancient heros like Tamerlane and his grandson the astronomer Ulug Beg. The question of calligraphy also turns up from time to time

This caught the imagination of the western press a few years ago as Turks, Russians and Iranians were all supposed to be vying with one another for the dominant script. In practice, most of the republics are working towards a modified Turkish alphabet. As for modern writers themselves, little can be heard beyond conformity. Six dissident Central Asian writers recently won the Helman-Hammett book prize: none of them wished to be named for fear of reprisals. In Tajikistan, the poet Bozor Sabir was arrested for his apparently anti-government verse. His case was taken up by foreign pressure groups and he was eventually released. Now he lives in Moscow like many other dissenters.

  1. No comments yet.

You must be logged in to post a comment.