Thursday, March 22, 2018


There are two gasp-inducing, over-the-top gorgeous places we visited in Samarkand, the sites that make this city  the main tourist destination for Uzbekistan, and the places I had seen pictures of before our trip that made me so excited to come here. One is Registan Square, the subject of my next post, and the other is Shakhi-Zinda (or Shah-i-Zinda) Mausoleum. If you haven't guessed by now, mausoleums are a big deal in The Stans.
I love the word "necropolis," literally "city of the dead," and nowhere does that term apply more than at Shakhi-Zinda, a small "city" of twenty gorgeous tile-covered "houses," each one a monument to the dead and most an actual tomb. Ironically, the words "Shakhi-Zinda" mean "Living King" in Persian.

We had come to expect these grand entrances, but on this portal to Shakhi-Zinda I especially like the Arabic script, decorating the outer vertical edges in addition to their usual place on the horizontal lintel:

Kusam ibn Abbas, the cousin of Muhammad, is interred at Shakhi-Zinda, making it a pilgrimage site. I don't know if this blue and black ensemble is the "go to a holy place" (aka pilgrimage clothing) for men, somewhat like the white shirts and ties worn by the men in my faith who go to the temple, or if it is standard dress, but it seemed to be the outfit of the day.

Friday, March 2, 2018


Of all the places we had planned to visit on this trip through the Stans, I was most excited for Samarkand, a city in Uzbekistan that is one of the oldest continuously-inhabited cities in Central Asia. I knew very little bit about it other than what I could glean from the pictures we had looked at in the travel brochure, but man-oh-man, those were some pictures.

Our first introduction to Samarkand when we stepped off the train was provided by this group of "musicians," a word I use loosely here. It sounded more like really annoying and really large insects buzzing in my ear than it sounded like music:

Things got better after that. Here is the tropical courtyard of the train station:

"Welcome" in English!