Toprak Kala settlement with its palace of Khorezm rulers – 
one of the most ancient secular constructions in Central Asia - 
is included into the UNESCO World Heritage List. 
(Karakalpakstan to host Asrlar Sadosi Festival 2012, © UNESCO, http://www.tashkent.unesco.org/news/406/)

    Toprak kala fortress dates back to I-VI centuries C.E.  As one of the most ancient architectural sights in Uzbekistan with its archeological findings, Toprak Kala contributes to our knowledge of Khwarezmian history and the luxuries lives of its rulers. Findings included written documents on leather and wooden tablets echoing back to II - III centuries C.E.
Pictures by A. Weidner

Understanding the importance of this cultural heritage, a festival was held to put this fortress under a spotlight. Asrlar Sadosi means "Echo of Centuries" - is a Festival of Traditional Culture held annually by Fund Forum Foundation and UNESCO Office in Tashkent. The event introduces diversity of traditions, culture, and customs and its agenda included two day activities. 

Highlights of the festival included: 

- the opening of a Traditional musical instruments shop of Azatbay Otarbaev, a leading master on production of traditional musical instruments of Karakalpakstan. The shop opening will allow the younger generations to learn and revive the making process of traditional musical instruments. 

-  Roundtable held in Savitsky Museum of Art in Nukus on the matter of “The Aral Sea Region: the Historical, Ecological and Social Aspects of the Region’s Development” (read in details on Asrlar Sadosi official website)

- Contemporary art auction of MEROS Association of Antiques was held at the Savitsky Museum of Art with support from Christie’s Russian Art Department and was led by British auctioneer Edward Rising (read in details on Asrlar Sadosi official website

The activities that underlined the traditional customs included:
National Cuisine Festival
National wrestling tournament - Kurash
Horse-riding games:
        - Uloq-kopkari is a traditional game in all Central Asian countries. The object of the game is for a horseman to grab and bring the "ulog" (usually carcass of a sheep filled with salt) to the appointed spot. The "ulog" can weigh up to 40 kilos and the opponent horsemen will do all they can to capture the "ulog" and be the first to score. Huge clutters of horsemen for a fight to grab the object can occur during the game. Sometimes it is very hard to tell what is going on in that clutter. The horsemen can play in teams, where they can help each other to carry the "ulog", clear the way for each other in that clutter. Competitors have to be very tough, since it is very hard to tell what is going on in the clutter, occasional punches in the arm to grab the "ulog" are normal. The games are usually held and organized during traditional holidays and big events.
        - Qiz-quu (girl chasing) is also a traditional event held and organized during big holidays. It is not practiced in modern days, but only a reenactment of old traditions. It includes a boy and a girl, each one riding their own horse. In the first round the boy chases the girl and tries to kiss her while she is trying to get away. In the second round the girl chases the boy and tries to give a him a whip for kissing her without her permission.
        - Horse races 
Traditional rooster fights
Traditional ram fights
National Dress Festival

The evening was finished off with a Gala concert and fireworks. (read in details on Asrlar Sadosi official website)

The festival has definitely raised the awareness of traditional culture on the international level. 

Publish date: 16/05/2012     [updated 25/05/2012]
(spelling variations: Tuproq Qala, Topraq Qala; Khwarezm, Chorasm, Ulaq-kopkari, etc.)

External Sources: [  www.fundforum.uz/en   |    www.tashkent.unesco.org/en   |    www.asrlarsadosi.com/en   ]