Paris, France — Silk Roads and Golden Rivers, precious gemstones and gold galore, this is the wealth of Tajikistan, a Central Asian country that was once on the crossroads of caravans and civilization, religion, too, with Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, and Islam all playing a role. A gold buckle, a lion in ivory, a cameo in calcedony, a golden crown, mysterious divinities and far-flung kingdoms are just a few of the wonders to be discovered at the exhibition Tadjikistan, in the Land of the Golden Rivers being played out at the Le Musée national des arts asiatiques – Guimet, France’s national museum devoted to the arts of Asia.
Tajikistan was at the crossroads of civilizations, the Middle East, the ancient world of the steppes, the Indian subcontinent and so it became a place where culture and unbridled artistic creation flourished. The region is rich in natural ressources among them rubies and lapis lazuli, It was also a place of trade in prehistory and a major center for metallurgy already in the 4th century B.C. So if you can’t be in Paris right now, The Gourmet Gazette brings the exhibition to you.
This year the country of Tajikistan is celebrating its 30th anniversary of being its own independent country. Yet its glorious past stretches back for thousands of years. The show is paved out in large chronological periods and aims to display this wealth by presenting vestiges from the countries spectacular archaeological sites. The contributions of the peoples of the steppes, then the Achaemenids, also known as the first Persian Empire, were followed in the first centuries BC by the presence of Hellenized objects illustrated by several ensembles of gold, silver, and bronze coins, as well as a great many vestiges from the Oxus temple, which is devoted to the River God Amu Darya, at Takht-I Sangin.
As for the monumental vestiges of Panjakent, Kukh-I Surkh or Bundjika, they attest to the prosperity of the Sogdiana region in the 6th to the 7th centuries, in a time when the Sogdians, tradesmen from Asia established all the way to China and Southeast Asia, were also receptive to outside influences. At the same time the sites of Adjina tepa and Hisht tepa show us the grafting of Buddhism in the east of the land by the monks wayfaring along the trade routes.
The exhibition ends with the establishment of the Samanid dynasty and the introduction of Islam in the region as shown by the vestiges of the Hulbuk or Sayod sites and significant monetary treasures.
©Trish Valicenti for The Gourmet Gazette