Asrlar Sadosi

Echo of the Centuries

Do you like to be immersed in the culture of a people?

Do you like to watch the strong men lift weights beyond measure?

Do you like wrestling at its best (Uzbekistan’s national sport)?

If you answered “yes” to any of those questions you are in for a treat at Asrlar Sadosi.  Because it’s all here and more.

Asrlar Sadosi  is a festival of traditional culture and a rare opportunity to glimpse artisans at work, eat traditional foods, enjoy acrobatics, wrestling and folkloric music all topped off by a world-class folk concert.

Every spring since 2008 the Fund Forum, the organizing entity behind the Festival, chooses a different site to hold the Festival. The Festival is supported by the UNESCO local office as well. Previous years it was held in Khiva, Bukhara, in the mountains near Tashkent and in Shakhrisabz.

This year the venue was the outside city of Navoi, a spectacular region of Uzbekistan known for its petraglyphs and ancient stone formations, as well as its near desert setting.

People from over 65 countries attended the event, many of them for its entire three-day span.This year’s festival highlight was a spectacular high fashion show with beautiful models and outfits that dazzle.

The 2013 Asralar Sadosi Fashion Show

Some of these beautiful dresses can be worn in the US. And I was especially impressed by the men’s outfits.

The petraglyph tee shirts are an easy export, and look like they come straight out of Abercrombie and Fitch.

We arrived early in the morning for a tour of the petraglyphs and were propelled into the Bronze Age. Although many of us as Ageless Travelers have had the experience of visiting caves inhabited by ancient man, I will wager that you have never gotten this close to an authentic rock painting. There is a deep sense of excitement when you recognize the figures and the clear pictorials of hunting, fishing and domestic activities depicted by primitive artists.

Currently, visitors are allowed to touch the petro glyphs with impunity.  I was concerned that we would rub away these gems. Our guides told us that because these are carved into stone and not painted, they will endure. I expect that with increased tourism this may change. So, if the thrill of being upfront and personal with a cave artist from the Bronze Age intrigues you go now.

It really is an extraordinary experience, walking through the beautiful rock formations, hearing the gurgling streams, and viewing the petraglyphs which are abundant.

After this a very short ride by van or car takes you to the festival site. The activity tends to appear as a mirage as first you see horsemen, then women in traditional dress, and then tents filled with Silk Road treasures.

Craftsmen with ancient tools mingle with fashion models wearing cutting-edge ensembles.  It is nearly impossible to take in the entire festival in one day. We enjoyed the culinary contests where traditional foods like Plov, were cooked on the spot. Much like our chili cook offs in the US, or a Food network television show, there were judges and awards given for the master chefs in each category. The centerpiece of the culinary tent was a wooden platform bedecked with pillows and fabrics for reclining at the community table perched atop the platform. I was invited to join and we ate what truly was the best Plov of our trip as we reclined in traditional fashion.


Next we visited the tents of each region of Uzbekistan to see their particular crafts and culture. I was enamored with a sophisticated woven wool scarf created by young artist living in Tashkent.

For my daughter and friend I stayed with the ancient arts and purchased two hand woven purses, and the susanie embroidery so beautiful on pillows. But, my favorite buy was the clay animal whistles so basic that they appeared like a petraglyph come to life.

Now a break for a rest and some nuts and fruits and cool water before the highlight of the evening, an all star concert co-mingled with classical and traditional dance and music.

Join us at the culmination of the joyous adventure that is Asrlar Sadosi.