Uzbekistan boasts glittering mosques, madrassahs and minarets in the Silk Road cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva, but the Soviet era is very visible too. The country has the second largest collection of Russian Avant Garde Art amassed when these artistic styles were banned. The resurgence of handicrafts, stunning ceramics, silk and velvet and the revival of Islamic miniature painting are all part of modern Uzbekistan. Chris will introduce us to it all.
Chris Aslan was born in Turkey (hence the name Aslan) and spent his childhood there and in war-torn Beirut. After school, Chris spent two years at sea before studying Media and journalism at Leicester University. He then moved to Khiva, a desert oasis in Uzbekistan, establishing a UNESCO workshop reviving fifteenth century carpet designs and embroideries, and becoming the largest non-government employer in town. He was kicked out as part of an anti-Western purge, and took a year in Cambridge to write A Carpet Ride to Khiva. Chris then spent several years in the Pamirs mountains of Tajikistan, training yak herders to comb their yaks for their cashmere-like down. Next came a couple more years in Kyrgyzstan living in the world’s largest natural walnut forest and establishing a wood-carving workshop. Since then, Chris has studied and rowed at Oxford, and is now based in Cambridge, but with plans to move to North Cyprus. When he’s not lecturing for The Arts Society, he writes. His latest book, Unravelling the Silk Road, is published by Icon Books. Chris also takes tours to Central Asia, returning whenever he can, having left a large chunk of his heart out there.