‘Twas that time of the year in Bukhara again as the city with a history that spans thousands of years hosted the eagerly-awaited, fifteenth Silk and Spices Festival. A celebration of folk arts, it kicked off as a procession of musicians, dancers, actors and craftsmen, and stretched from the Ark Citadel to the Labi Hovuz architectural complex.
This year, the festival that gains momentum with each passing year brought together representatives of twenty-one countries and over a dozen media outlets as well as hundreds of masters from various parts of Uzbekistan and beyond.
Wrapped into three days, the festivities included a sprawling fair of unique handmade items that presented exquisite Bukharian pottery, jewelry, embroidered garments, tapestries, atlas, adras, headwear, porcelain, items made of Surkhan wool and silk, woodcarving implements, beadwork by Jizzakh craftswomen, silks by local and foreign masters, spices and medicinal herbs. All this treasure trove of aromas, colors, glitter and beauty was complemented by rows of engaging activities such as workshops and master classes by craftspeople, performances by folk and ethnographic music teams from all Uzbek regions, national sporting competitions, folk games and the most delicious and awaited event – the pilaf cooking competition.
“Folk crafts have existed and thrived in Uzbekistan since ancient times,” says Madan Lal, an artisan from India. “Here, you can feast your eyes on unusual and original creations by local masters that testify to their remarkable artistic skills and tastes. These artisans have taken craftsmanship to new heights. The national traditions and customs as well as dances and folk songs make a lasting impression on visitors.”
The annual festival seeks to nurture and develop national craftsmanship, promote it internationally, forge ties with master craftspeople, and transform Bukhara into of the world’s key tourism hubs.
“I had always dreamt of visiting Bukhara and I am delighted that my trip coincides with such an amazing and colorful festival,” says Maxim Wilson, a tourist from Australia. “I’ve had a great time viewing diverse handmade items, and today I see with my own eyes that art nurtured by national values is able to unite various nations irrespective of their language and religions. By the way, I got to taste pilaf for the first time here. It was incredibly delicious!”
The festival was also used as a platform to discuss issues related to the attraction of foreign investments to tourism in Bukhara. The conference held as part of the festival included presentations of business projects and grants while also giving those gathered an opportunity to learn about the investment climate in the ancient city as a whole.
The annual Silk and Spices Festival has turned into the city’s signature event that draws an increasing number of tourists to the region, which is chock-full of magnificent architectural monuments and other landmarks.