Tubeteika, art festival and, unfortunately, copies in museums.

When I was four years old, my father gave me a miniature tubeteika from Uzbekistan and fabric for a dress, which my mother sewed into a beautiful Uzbek dance costume for me. That’s how my foray into the world of dance began, performing imaginary routines at every opportunity, earning applause and persistent requests for encores.

Just four days ago, we returned from a trip to Uzbekistan, where we reunited with my parents who flew in from Kazakhstan, and our days were filled with togetherness. The city left an indelible impression with its immaculate streets and abundance of tourists. I was eagerly anticipating a visit to the Museum of Uzbekistan History, aiming to immerse myself in the cultural relics of the Kushan Empire, an ancient Afghan kingdom. However, my encounter with the museum left me disappointed; instead of genuine artifacts, I found only replicas, and my inquiries puzzled the attendants. Despite three visits, I found it difficult to connect with the cultural heritage I was so passionately seeking.

However, amidst this museum disappointment, an unexpected delight awaited us at the arts festival. Across from our residence in Tashkent stood the University of the Arts, and the adjacent park was constantly populated by students sketching en plein air, often depicting elders in traditional attire. The festival brought together numerous children from creative institutions in Uzbekistan, triggering nostalgic memories of my own art school three decades ago. It felt like stepping into a time capsule, where life momentarily paused, evoking a mixture of emotions.

Reflecting on the stark contrast between contemporary creativity and ancient wonders described in online research, I found myself pondering the mismatch. Where are the treasures of bygone eras, the ancient coins, sumptuous carpets, and exquisite adornments? Why do modern Uzbek students seem anchored to the recent past? Where is the reflection of history in their creativity?

Although I don’t have definitive answers, this experience crystallized my creative path, once again affirming my ability to blend cultures and generations in my artistic pursuits.



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