Musical Instruments of Central Asia: The Doira

Musical Instruments of Central Asia: The Doira

Who can resist the fascination of watching a skillful drummer at work? Certainly not me and my toes were tapping and hands clapping along when I recently had the opportunity to meet one of the legendary masters of the Uzbekistan doira, Abbos Kosimov.The doira is known as one of the oldest percussive instruments in Central Asia, a frame drum known also as the dap, dayereh, childirma or charmanda. This lightweight drum is made of goatskin stretched over a round frame with metal rings attached on the back, creating a sound much like a tambourine. It is used to accompany both traditional and popular music, even wedding ceremonies, beating out the rhythms and incorporating the musical chimes of the usul - the rhythmic accompaniment to dancing and singing. Originally used only by women, 2000 year old archaeological evidence shows a woman playing a doira.Abbos Kosimov is one of the most widely known doira players, recognized worldwide as a master of the instrument and as an ambassador of Uzbekistan culture. Originally from Tashkent, he has a stellar academic and performance CV, establishing his own music school in 1994 and is the recipient of the presidential title of Honored Artist of Uzbekistan. He has participated in international festivals, concerts and workshops around the world and his popular performance group "Abbos" features traditional instruments of Uzbekistan.Abbos Kosimov and his students and colleagues were honored guests at my home for New Year's and all of my American friends and family were thrilled and amazed by his performance. Alternately rousing the crowd with rapid-fire tattoo or calming us with the sounds of nature, we could imagine swirling skirts and flashing jewels in a tribal village or lying peacefully under the stars in the desert.

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Doppi & Tubeteika - When is a hat not just a hat?

Doppi & Tubeteika - When is a hat not just a hat?

When is a hat not just a hat? If you are from Uzbekistan, you can easily spot the differences amongst the seemingly endless array of colorful and embellished doppi and tubeteika worn here.

Tubeteika (from the Tatar tubeke or top) is the Russian word for what is known as a doppi in Uzbekistan. They take a variety of shapes depending on local tradition and the maker’s creativity, but can be round, square, slightly conical, or even tetrahedral, and best of all - easily folded to carry! Rich fabrics and colors patterned, embroidered and embellished, this little cap is a cultural icon of Central Asia and an essential part of folk costume. While it may not be a common sight in big cities these days, no one would consider attending a festival, wedding or religious event without one.

Embroidered Doppi from BukharaI grew up in Bukhara, considered one of the most ancient cities of the Silk Road, a treasure trove of centuries of tradition. In Uzbekistan, mothers and grandmothers make beautiful handmade dresses and hats for their families and ever since my childhood, I’ve loved my matching outfits, never complete without my doppi. Sometimes they would come from the hat seller at the Chorsu Bazaar, known as the crossroads bazaar of the Silk Road since the 16th century. My hats were made of cotton or silk, or Persian lamb in winter, and embroidered with motifs in gold thread and bead work. My aunt’s home is located right behind the Kalon minaret, one of the major sites of Bukhara and I learned my first English words here from visiting tourists. They always asked to take my photo dressed in my uzbeki style dress and doppit. My love of traditional clothing has inspired me to collect hats everywhere I travel.

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Journey to the Five "Stans" of Central Asia

Weather in Central Asia and the best season for travel

Central Asia tours can be enjoyed all year around, however, unless you are planning to trek in the mountains, the ideal times to visit are springtime, from March to May from September to November in fall. The hiking and trekking season is limited to the short summer season in the mountains, when the snows have melted and the trails are passable. There are incredible opportunities to explore the ranges of Central Asia; from easy day hiking to adventure trekking and white water rafting. Skiing is available in the winter, including heli-skiing in the Tien Shan down virgin powder slopes.

Spring is a wonderful time when nature bursts into bloom in Central Asia! The surrounding mountain peaks are rimmed with winter's snows, but the forests, valleys, steppes and farms are lush with new growth. Fruit trees blossom and even the desert landscapes change with the last of the winter rains and snowmelt, with the season's tulips, irises and sedges.

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