Folk traditions of Khorezm

Traditions of Karakalpak folklore have been evolving for centuries. Each historical and cultural region of Karakalpakstan had its own unique features reflected in the music and dance art of Karakalpak people. Musical art of Khorezm has very deep roots. In the Bronze Age Khorezm was inhabited by the population professing one of the oldest religions - Zoroastrianism. Some customs and cultural traditions of this religion were maintained by the population of the modern Karakalpakstan to this day. This is especially felt in the culture of Khorezm which is known to have become the homeland of Zoroastrism.

Today Khorezm is famous for its craftsmen-songwriters - Bakhshi. It should be noted that Bakhshi are master storytellers, who live not only in Khorezm, they are also characteristic of the culture of Turkmenistan. This can be explained by the proximity of the borders between the two regions, which undoubtedly led to sharing of cultural traditions.

Who are these Bakhshi and what makes them so unique? Undoubtedly, this question comes from many visitors of our country. Bakhshi are national storytellers, musicians, singers, poets, the creators and custodians of folk epics - dastans. Previously, Bakhshi accompanied themselves by playing the famous oriental musical instrument - dutar. Today, you can often hear Bakhshi singing fascinating soul songs, accompanied by an ensemble consisting of dutar, gidzhak and bulaman.

The Khorezm folklore is based on tales and legends, love stories, written by such great poets as Jami and Alisher Navoi. Often Bakhshi used original songs. They could simply recite them, or sing strascinando. Khorezm Bakhshi often combine these two types of chants, which is illustrative of Khorezm school storytellers. Unlike many other regions of Uzbekistan, there are female narrators (storytellers) in Khorezm. In most occasions they perform delicate heart-felt songs based on a romantic story.

But Khorezm is known not only with its masters - storytellers. Khorezm dances are extremely popular. They are energetic, rousing and very temperamental. In contrast to slow and quiet dances of Bukhara and Samarkand, Khorezm dances are initially very rhythmic, and the pace becomes irrepressible by the end of the dance. Perhaps, "lezgi" is the most well-known Khorezm dance today. This dance is characterized by movement on bent legs, shaking with shoulders and hands with small bells attached.

Among other well-known Khorezm dances is the "dancing on a plate", when the dancer performs all the dance moves, not moving from the plate, which is incredibly difficult. There is also a "dance of the broken toes". It has a famous legend. They say that one of Khan’s concubines hurt her toes. Not to upset the master and not to besmirch him in front of guests, she had to dance with broken toes. No one realized that the girl suffered, guests and Khan took it as a new dance. For centuries, Khoresm dancers have been performing the "dance of broken toes" in honor of this brave girl.