Deliberately broad “Central Asia” is really the “Inner Asia” that extends from the Caucasus to Mongolia, west to the Tian Sian mountains and in the south to northern edges of Afghanistan and Iran. Such a large region naturally encompasses a huge variation in geography, from some of the driest desert regions on earth to the most forbidding and beautiful glacier-shrouded peaks. The sweep of the region’s cultural history is encapsulated in part in the history of the “Silk Road” . . . . not to mention the modern changes and newly defined and named countries brought about by the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The first trade routes that became part of what we know today as “The Silk Road” originated hundreds of years ago in the Fergano Valley. People, settlements, blossoming fruit orchards, palaces, and caravans all thrived along these ancient roads covering roughly the shape of an oval running 2000 miles east and west and bordered by steppes, forests, mountain ranges, no less than five great deserts, and salty warm “fresh-water” lakes. Oasis cities such as Bukhara, Tashkent, Samarkand, Kashgar, Bactria, and the ancient city of Merv made up the hub for the exchange of spices, textiles, and other goods from all over the continent, but especially the exchange of stories, music, ideas, architecture, religions, and philosophies — the original super information highway!
https://www.pinterest.com/wholehat/central-asia/ — just lots visuals – architecture, fabric, people, maps, etc . . . just a place to get started in researching “Central Asia” on your own.
Pacific Northwest organizations:
- https://sites.google.com/site/emikokarunamritanoor/home — an amazing website of a community in Seattle with many more links!
- http://seattle-tashkent.org/ — also chock full of interesting links.
- Unesco’s website page focusing on dialogue, development, and diversity of the Silk Road: https://en.unesco.org/silkroad/knowledge-bank/arts-and-crafts-central-asia
- Beyond the Yurt is a great travel article full of beautiful images of people, animals, yurts, and landscapes – local and modern. Not sentimental.
- Common Kazakh Phrases: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=104&v=xvjDoNknBtk
- http://www.athenapub.com/9khotan1.htm — some ancient history of the Central Asian region.
Great websites featuring cultures and ways of life through traditional handcrafts:
- Kazakhstan Cheers New Alphabet, Except for All Those Apostrophes
New York Times article
- Kazakhstan Prizes Its Cowboys, but Few Want to Saddle Up for Harsh Life
New York Times article
- Local food cart for a soupy Central Asian noodle meal called lagman:
- Eagle Huntress and Weeping Camel are both beautiful movies about Khazak families living on the Mongolia Steppes (links to trailers).