Sunday, May 28, 2023

Scratching the surface on Chimgan!

Tulipa x tchimganica and Pedicularis

There are those days you'd like to put in a glass ball and keep on your mantelpiece to take down again and yet again over the years. Friday, May 25 was just such a day. After a bit too late of a start (those dang Central Asian party nights!) we finally arrived at the trailhead not long before lunch. Had we arrived as we should have at, say, 9:00am (we're not THAT far after all from Tashkent here) I have no doubt we would have twice this many pictures. I turned back earlier than Johan and Elena: they found fields of mixed tulips, peonies, Colchicum luteum and Iris korolkowii among other treasures I missed. My bad. Maybe if I sweet-talk them they'll give me those shots to append here--so do check back in a week or two! A few of the "sp." below may have better I.D.'s!

Tomorrow we fly 11 time zones back home. I have dreamed of coming to Uzbekistan for...for...I'll confess--for over half a century. I'll leave it at that. We have learned so much, seen so much. And yet I feel as though I've barely scratched the surface!

Allium jodanthum

Arum korolkowii

Astragalus sieversianus

Astragalus sieversianus closeup

Astragalus sp.

Elena Shtern photographing Atraphaxis pyrifolia

Atraphaxis pyrifolia

Crocus alatavicus

Cystopteris fragilis

Eremurus regelii

Eremurus regelii closeup

Eremurus regelii closer up

Eremurus turkestanicus

Ferula sp.

Ferula sp

Fritillaria sewerzowii

Gymnospermium albertii

Ixiolirion tataricum

Vicia sp

Lonicera sp.

Orzimat Turginov

Pedicularis sp.

Phlomoides (Eremostachys) speciosa

Phlomoides (Eremostachys) speciosa

Potentilla sp.

Prangos pabularia

Prunus cf. spinosa

Pseudosedum longidentatum and Rheum maximowiczii

Pseudosedum longidentatum

Rheum maximowiczii

    Rheum maximowiczii

Rosa kokanica

Schrenkia sp.

Scilla puschkinioides

Tulipa bifloriformis


You may have noticed that the enormous massif of Chimgan quietly photobombs most of my flower pictures in this is obviously beloved of the locals--there were many Uzbeks on the mountain that day including a party of herbal gatherers who were busy cutting some plant I couldn't identify in bundles, and lithe young Uzbek boys on horseback, recalling their ancestral horsemen of the steppes (only with cell phones in tow).

We have Pikes Peak, Seattle has Tahoma, Portland Mount Hood, Thessaly has Mount Olympus and Bursa has Ulu Dag and Bariloche has Cerro Catedral nearby: these imposing mountains that harbor so many treasures have become a sort of touchstone for me. I've been lucky to visit most of these several times...shall I ever return to Chimgan?

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Finally in Samarkand

Everyone has their own personal list special places they want to see eventually: glorious architectural monuments like the Acropolis, St. Marks and St. Peters, the Alhambra and for me the Haghia Sophia--the list is highly personal and can go on ad infinitum. There is something about Samarkand, however, that sets it apart from the others: Uzbekistan is not conveniently situated to Europe or North America--it takes time and effort and expense to get there. The alluring images of the monuments in that city eventually lure some of us here nevertheless. And I was truly dazzled by the sites we visited.
The pictures will have to speak for themselves: for one thing I haven't researched the monuments of Samakand enough to convey much you couldn't find on Wikipedia. What appeals to me (as it does to most visitors) is the counterpoint of immense structures and intricate decoration. The colors and patterning of the tiles here fascinated me when I saw pictures of them over the years--to see them up close in real life is a dream come true.
I'd love to hear the explanations of the face riding the tigers over the arch here...
A lavish amount of greenery surrounds the monuments: this is a major tourist destination for Uzbeks obviously--a country with a sizeable population. I was struck by not seeing any American or European tourists on our visit.
I was enchanted watching these two young ladies trying on various costumes that were on sale in the courtyard. When I asked to take their picture, they posed charmingly! The one on the right has a disarming resemblance to the younger of my two departed sisters.

The lighting indoors was enchanting
Quite a range of gew gaws were on sale...these weren't really to my taste
But I was captivated by a silk runner with pomegranates--and the young salesman was quite effective in closing the deal!
I was wondering if I'd see any statues of Timur...but the largest monumental sculpture was of Islom Karimov, the long time leader of Uzbekistan from Soviet times, through independence until his death in 2016. He was a native of Samarkand. Alas, I couldn't get close enough to identify the bird upon his head.
This photograph inside the mosque gave me pause: had these monuments really been destroyed by time to such a treat extent? Was therefore all the decoration we were seeing here reconstructed? Obviously, I've only scratched the surface here. I daresay I will learn much more in time! And when I do, I'll share it on Prairiebreak!

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