Some peculiarities of Uzbek culture

Sorry for the lull in posts, I’ve been traveling around quite a bit, and haven’t had time to stop and put up a post. I finished my Uzbek course a few days ago, so I thought I’d post some fascinating aspects of Uzbek culture. These are just the ones I could remember from class, I’m sure there are plenty more.

In Uzbek:
It is unacceptable for the youngest brother to move out of his parents house, ever. When he gets married, his wife moves in with his parents and they live there. On the upside, the house is the younger son’s birthright, not the older brother’s. 

It is unacceptable to bring odd-numbered loaves of bread to someones house, unless it is a house of mourning, in which case it is unacceptable to bring even-numbered loaves.

Uzbek days of mourning are commemorated at 7, 20, and 40 days after a person’s death. However, one full day and one full night are counted as 2 days, so really it is at 4 days, 10 days, and 20 days. Following the 40th “day” one can stop wearing black. This system of counting days applies only to mourning.

It is considered an insult to bring spicy food to your hosts’ home as a gift. 

One never refers to a friend’s wife directly by saying ‘your wife.’ Instead, a series of euphemisms are used based on the age of the couple. If you are speaking to an older man, it is “my mother in law” (to mean ‘your wife’) if it is a younger man, “my sister-in-law.”
So to ask, ‘how is your wife?” you would say “how is my sister-in-law?” Women also have similar euphemisms to refer to their husbands. “Your brother,” “Your uncle” or simply “that person.” (seriously.)

Whistling inside the house will bring misfortune. 

So will letting the neighbor borrow salt after dark. 

The Central Asian Shepherd in Uzbek translates as “Wolf Cruncher”.

If one has twins, they are always named Hasan and Husan for boys, Fatima and Zuhra for girls. The order corresponds to their birth order, so Hasan and Fatima are always “older”. If one has twins of different genders the order remains in place, so Hasan and Zuhra, Fatima and Husan would be the correct naming scheme.

~ by Josh on August 20, 2010.

7 Responses to “Some peculiarities of Uzbek culture”

  1. Intriguing. Am a bit saddened that they’d find spicy food offensive. Is Uzbek cuisine not very spicy?

    And why do twins have to be named that way? Do the names insure against bad luck? Twins often are seen as bad luck in a lot of traditional cultures.

  2. Wow this was a really interesting post, I love reading stuff like this!

  3. Fascinating, Josh. I wonder what aspects of American culture would sound equally intriguing?

  4. Wonderful post. I will add few more information about the Uzbekistan Culture. Visitors should leave their shoes outside and go inside the room barefoot. Visitor should not shake hand across the door. I you want to give money do not give in the hand. Younger should not look into the eyes of the elder.

  5. Excellent post Josh, it’s been a long time. Some of the customs only a few and the less trivial ones are practised in Pakistan and India also.

    In regards to the naming, the names represent the Household of Ali ibn Talib, may God Enoble his face and Fatima ul Zuhra, may God shower her with light. Fatima is the daughter of the Prophet Muhummad, may Gods Peace and Blessings be upon Him.

    The naming is after the children that they bore. Imam Hussan, Imam Hussayn and Zaynab. May God Sanctify their Secret.

    It is purely out of love for the family of the Prophet. Some have extremist views in this (Shi’ia) and others have admoration for the Blessed family (Sunni)

    Hope this helps.
    In Gods Protection


    • Hi Humza!
      Thanks so much for your comment!
      I didn’t mention the fact that all of the names were from the family of Imam Ali, which I found slightly odd at first, as Uzbekistan is almost 90% Sunni and this to me would suggest a Shia leaning, but I believe that you are correct and that it is simply out of respect for ahl al-bayt!

      • The Ismai’li Shi’i minority aside, historically the majority of Uzbek Muslims have been Sufis. Veneration of Ali and his household is common to many (possibly most) Sufi orders. So there you have it.

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