“All the world’s a Stage,
And all the men and women merely ‘Puppets’;
They have their Exits and their Entrances …”
‘almost’ (Shakespeare)

We are UZBEK men and women! And the blood of the world’s great empires course through our veins. We are the sum of their parts, sweep after sweep of history.

Our stage is along the Amu Darya, a strong flow of river that separates Central Asia’s two huge deserts. We host the electrifying crossroads between China, India, Persia and Egypt, Greece, Turkey and Siberia, Mongolia, Afghanistan.

Come to our show! Join the invincible conquerors before you. Let us make you wiggle with giggles and dribble with snivels. We know how to play the fool to ‘Somebody, the Great’ or “Another, the Terrible’!

Every couple of centuries a mounted warring horde makes our city walls crumble. There is a new guard at the gate and we “puppets on a string” are quick to sing a clever new tune.

 – – – We exist in 600 BC as a peaceful province of Persia.  Then Alexander the Great of the Greeks devours Darius the Great of the Persians in 327 BC. He rips through here and makes our cities and our chieftain’s daughter his own. Quietly Buddhist monks from India triple through here in 260 BC. A little later Noah’s son Shem discovers a well in Khiva for his followers. We swear, the first Chinese armies visit us in 107 BC! And while Attila scourges Europe, his Huns take control of our Central Asia in 400 AD. And fancy, the western Turks tire of their wandering lifestyles and decide to settle amongst us in 550 AD. Then the formidable army of Islam explodes out of Arabia and makes us a ‘Pillar of Islam’ in 700 AD. Ginggis Khan, the Supreme, All-Conquering Ruler of the Mongols, gets itchy feet and rages open-ground warfare from the backs of his Devil’s horses. Bukhara and our other cities burn to the ground! But beware sons of Ginggis; Timur the Terrible Turk is in the wings. We watch him slash and burn everything in a 9 year rampage. He then takes a Chinese wife and forges a new, almost-mythical city in Samarkand. Slowly we evolve into three separate dynasties in the cities of Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand. Here we welcome the Silk Roaders and compete in trade and towering minarets. When the British gain strongholds in India and Afghanistan; the Russians become frantic to expand their southern border and gobble us up. Russian and Ukranian infidels begin to flood our lands in the late 1800s. We become ‘cotton picking mad’ and make Russia the world’s 2nd largest cotton producer. In 1924 we ‘officially’ become Uzbeks and our neighbours; Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Tajiks and Turkmens.  The Russians ‘invent’ us to ward off the threats of nearby Islamic countries. When the Soviet regime collapses in 1989 we gain a suspicious independence. Today; everything is de-‘russia’-fied and we watch our political elite fiddle with democracy. And when a Special Project or a Presidential Programme reaches our little village we clap till our hands hurt. – – –

“All the world’s a Stage,
And all the men and women merely ‘Puppets’;
They have their Exits and their Entrances …”

It’s ALL true, we have seen them ALL sit at our stage. We are their “clowns and their puppets and their April fools. And we will celebrate them till we are old and grey.”

Come on ….. we will celebrate you too. Come to an UZBEK puppet show in Bukhara.

Our Puppets are INVINCIBLE. Our Stage is TREMENDOUS.

‘All the World is a Stage’

‘And all the men and women merely ‘puppets’.’



The river Amu Darya (in background) runs through the Central Asian deserts; and along it are the Silk Road cities of Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand.

Khiva – Dates from the 8th century, and had its heyday as a busy slave market from 1592.

Khiva – This minaret, planned to be high enough to see all the way to Bukhara, was never completed.

Khiva – Look at the beautifully carved columns that support the roof.

Khiva – This mosque has 218 wooden columns supporting its roof; some date back to the 10th century.

Khiva – A column close-up.

Khiva – A beautifully tiled interior.

Khiva – Playing just outside the perfectly renovated city walls.

Khiva – The ‘lived-in’ residential quarters within the city walls.


Khiva – A ladies’ day out. Watermelon & popcorn for the families back at home.

Bukhara – Considered the ‘pillar of Islam’ in the 9 & 10th century, had a second lease of life in the 16th century as a capital city.

Bukhara – The towering entrance to a mosque.

Bukhara – A ‘sky-high’ minaret.

Bukhara – The ‘oldest part of the city’ bombed by the Red Army in 1920 is in need of total renovation.

Bukhara – Traders in the renovated parts of Bukhara tend to come from a long line of Bukharans.

Bukhara – Dresses made of cloth, light-in-colour and light-in-weight are perfect for the hot, desert climate.

Bukhara – This is a huge undercover market of just jewellery stalls ‘manned’ by ladies.

Bukhara – Plying a trade along the streets.

Bukhara – A master’s hand at fine wood carvings.

Bukhara – One of MANY carpet stalls.

Samarkant – Dates back to the 5th century, obliterated by Ghenggis in 1220 and re-made by Timur in 1370. A series of earthquakes in the 18th century also did damage.

Samarkant – A mosque in the process of renovation.

Samarkant – a renovated medressas; an Islamic College with lecture rooms, prayer cells & living quarters around an inner courtyard.


Samarkant – another medressa.

Samarkant – The Registan; one of three majestic medressas.

Samarkant – a towering minaret.


Samarkant – beautifully tiled with geometric floral designs and Islamic calligraphy – in keeping with the Islamic prohibition on representations of living creatures.



Samarkant – the Bibi Khanym mosque most recently damaged by an earthquake, in the process of renovation.

Samarkant – The Registan popular with locals as a backdrop for wedding photos.

Samarkant – mother & child within the courtyard of a medressa.