Tags / PAMIR
Dust rises above the village. The Pamir Mountains are a snowless desert. For Europeans dust is associated with the scorching sweltering summer, cracked earth parched by the sun. Here it is dusty all the time until the first snow falls.
A calm afternoon in the village. Women sit in front of their houses. Here, houses are built with stones and clay mixed with straw. A roof is the most expensive part of a house as people need to import wood from Kirgizstan. During soviet times, it was not so expensive as it is now as it was imported from Siberia.
Sarabdek looks at his village. Roshorv is beautifully located village on a high mountain plateau. It is the biggest village in the Bartang Valley. 3 000 people live there in 165 houses. People came here 4 or 5 centuries ago from a village located below Yapshorv, which was slowly eroded away by the roaring Bartang River. Previously, there was only alpine pasture.
Catching a yak. A few wild yaks are brought from a distant Murghab. One was chosen to be culled for upcoming wedding party.
To kill a yak, men bind its legs, put it down, hold it and one of them cuts its throat.
Butchering the yak. As the custom, the neighbors receive a piece of meat, ready prepared and boiled.
The leftovers from the yak.
Sarabdek grinds flour in the water mill. Villagers make flour by themselves. There are 10 water mills in the village. At each house, bread tastes different as everyone bakes it in their own way, some add some oil, others more salt. The price of a bag of flour in a Soviet time was 11 rubles, today it costs 180 Somoni (30 euros), which constitutes Sarabdek’s monthly pension.
A woman takes water from a spring. The water from the spring is used for drinking and cooking. For washing and cleaning, people take water from a system of irrigation channels around the village.
The girl looks for sheep and goats. This task is reserved for children. There are 7 to 10 big herds in the village. In one herd, there are around 10 to 15 smaller groups each owned by a local. Shepherds switch their turn for grazing their herds.
The groom’s family goes to the bride's house to form a wedding party.
Kids are jumping from one roof to the other.
Musicians are greeting guests at bride’s house. The tambourine is a local traditional instrument.
A wedding ceremony takes place in the big summer room. Guests dance in pairs and then they leave the dance floor for the next. A wedding ceremony takes place at the bride’s home. If the young couple comes from the same village, a ceremony starts at a bride’s house and
Girls on their way back from school.
The wedding guests are dancing. Anyone who wants to come is welcome. Hopefully there will be just enough space to dance.
The best meetings are always in the kitchen, because they are most intimate and sincere. There are no unasked questions, but only timid responses. In the kitchen people talk about life, about men, about dresses, love stories, and unrequited loves. There are no cultural or religious differences. Tajiks, including Yaghnobi people, are Sunni, where a woman’s position is often discriminated against. Pamiris are Ismailis, they practice a progressive Islam often earning them the label heretic through this progress.
"Here in the Pamir Mountains, women are free, they are not like other muslims who live only for cooking and cleaning. They go to school and then go to college in Khorog.” Ismaili women, who can be considered Islamic feminists are educated, some of them even work. Their position in society may have its differences, but could be looked on as equal to that of men. Most marriages in Sunni Tajikistan are arranged. Polygamy is permitted up to a maximum of four wives. Tajiks get engaged at 18 and then marry two years later. In European culture, the young become very quickly independent from their families and young couples live on their own. Tajikistan is different. Because of a difficult economic situation, one's mate comes to live in the new family circle, so the decision of who is to live under a common roof is also a family decision. Love between married couples is considered not as important as loyalty to blood relations. A man’s world and that of a woman are clearly divided here. Women take care of the household and raise children. It is instinctive. Men, if they have a chance to work, they work, but certainly never refuse a glass of vodka. When they drink they become rash, harsh, mirroring their surrounding word. They know that drinking, and the behavior it prompts is bad, so they keep their families out of this world. Maybe it’s why the worlds between men and women remain distant. The kitchen is a woman’s world.
Sarabdek with his youngest daughter (in a middle) and his daughter in law (at the left).
Basma, one of the Saradedbek’s daughters is kneading bread. She is not married yet, so she still lives with her family and shares housework with her sister-in-law. Bread is a base of nutrition in the mountainous Pamir and Yaghnob regions of Tajikistan. People will have it with cup of tea for breakfast and lunch.
Boy threshes grain with oxen. In the village as electricity is not reliable most of the work is done manually or with the help of animals.
Somersault on a haystack of threshed grain.
A Pamiri room is characterized by a single central window in the roof. It is the main room where the family cooks, eats and sleeps. In Ismaili culture, women stay at home and cook, but their social position is considered to be equal to that of men. The Pamiri diet is mainly based on rice, potatoes and a very small amount of meat.
Physical education classes. In the village there are two schools, primary and secondary. There are 180 students.
A Pamiri house characterized by a single central window in the roof. This room is the central of the house where family cook, eat and sleep.
A kitchen cupboard painted with a Marco Polo sheep, a protected species. Their horns are common ornaments in Ismaili homes.
Zohra is a nurse in Ajirkh, a small village where she lives with her husband and 6-year-old son. A year after the birth of her son, she decided to study in Khorog. After three years of studies, she came to like her urban lifestyle and wanted to stay in the city to work in a local hospital. Her husband, however, wanted to go back to the village in the mountains. She asked me if sometimes I argue with my ‘close one.’ I answered that that I did. I asked if she argues with her husband….