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Our friend, Bakhtiyar, in Istaravshan, took us out to his village to meet his 97 year old grandmother, which was a surprise in itself. When we got there we learned that she was a traditional healer, and she was more than happy to give us a demonstration of how she performs a consult.
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A performance at the Istaravshan music school showcasing the region's iconic instrument - the 2 metre long Karnai.
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At the Khojand Arts College we had a private performance by one of the best Dutar players in Tajikistan.
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We hung around in Isfara one extra day just to see the national celebrations on September 9 - the Tajikistan national holiday.
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Local metal workers doing it old-style near the Bazaar in Istaravshan. This region is famous for its metal work and knife craftmanship.
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This is a typical scene you'd see at any Toi in Uzbekistan or Tajikistan - in one of the many men's rooms, eating plov. The men had just finished their Namaz at sundown and could now feast themselves for the first time since sunrise, as it was during the holy month of Ramadan.
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Entering the house where a Toi was being held... during Ramadan! On show is the famous Karnai, and it is the Toi (circumcision ceremony) of the dressed-up little boy dancing in front of the musicians.
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Putkhin, a small village near Ayni, is famous for its apricots. In Soviet times, apricots were grown in this region and shipped all over the USSR. This is one method of preparing the apricots - partially sun-dry them on the roof of the house, take the almond out of the pips, then squish them together in piles of four. Danger is that this way you can down too many apricots for your own digestive good without even realising it!
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We arrived in Istaravshan in late August - at the very peak of grape season. And Istaravshan grapes are too tasty. We took a day trip out to the field to see how it's done.
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At Khojand Arts college we were given a quick show of some traditional Tajik-style dancing. Lots of twirls.
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While we were staying at Shakhristan we took a day trip out to a nearby Kyrgyz village, famous for its carpet making. The women there learn from a very young age and spend many of their summer days weaving brightly coloured coverings.
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Preparing of the sheep for eating at the wedding party is a very sacred ritual for the Uzbek people. After slitting the sheep's throat, the man inflates it through a small cut near the hoof, which will make it easier to skin next. Karmatosh.
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Mazoors come a close second when it comes to religious sites in Tajikistan (behind mosques of course). They are built-up burial sites of important religious figures, where people go to pray. Unlike mosques, women are allowed to pray at mazoors. You must exit a mazoor walking backwards and kissing each step. This is made difficult when the steps are steep, many, and uneven!
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This is on the road between Penjikent and Ayni. It will be of no surprise that sections of this road are often temporarily blocked off by landslides.
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In Karmatosh we were honorary guests at a traditional wedding ceremony. At these weddings, men and women are always separated to different rooms. This part of the wedding was the tea sessions at the bride's house on the first day. The lady with the red hair is the bride's mother. When any woman enters the room they greet each individual with blessings.

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