Who knew a simple wooden spoon could be the magical door to travel through time and space?!
Just about a year ago, Nadeem Ahmad reached out to HoonArts through our website contact form, inquiring about the possibility of finding artists in Tajikistan who could reproduce various implements found in archeological sites in northern Tajikistan.
(Remember our Egyptian combs story?)
Some of the requests didn’t work out. But Master Sodiq Zaripov, our fifth-generation woodcarver based in the ancient Silk Road city of Istaravshan, Tajikistan was willing and able to tackle reproducing some spoons found at the archeological site of Chilkhujra, dating to the 6th-7th century. Chilkhujra is incidentally located not far from Istaravshan.
Nadeem sent me the following photo of the recovered spoons, along with the estimated dimensions of those spoons.
I reached out to Usto Sodiq, through our wonderful coordinator Bakhriddin, about the project. Usto Sodiq’s response was not unlike his response to reproducing the ancient Egyptian combs—"Of course, in Tajikistan, many craftsmen make such spoons as these spoons are still used in the rural and mountainous regions.” And he sent along some photos of similar photos he already had in stock:
Existing spoon in Usto Sodiq’s workshop.
We had some back and forth about various specific questions:
And before too long, Bakhriddin had the reproduction spoons in hand:
The reproduction spoons emerge from Usto Sodiq’s workshop.
The finished spoons, along with my latest order of handcarved wooden jewelry, traveled to the US with Munira Akilova when she visited in April. Once they arrived in New Mexico, I was able to box up the order for Nadeem and ship it to the UK.
That round the world journey was amazing in itself. But where’s the “time-traveling” part?
Back in the fall, when Nadeem first contacted me, I asked him why he wanted reproductions of these ancient spoons from Tajikistan. It turns out that Nadeem is the founder of “Eran Ud Turan,” the world’s only Central Asian historical re-enactment group, with a focus on the world of the Sogdians, movers and players on the Silk Road. The Soghdian civilization was centered around Samarkand and Bukhara, now located in Uzbekistan, just across the western border of the northern “Sughd” province of Tajikistan.
By DEMIS Mapserver, पाटलिपुत्र – Used by permission under the GNU Free Documentation License
As Nadeem describes why he founded the group,
“I set up Eran ud Turan to help spread the word about these forgotten histories [of the Soghdians and Sasanians of early medieval Iran and Central Asia], in the most vivid and stunning way I could – by bringing them back to life. I had always been so disillusioned by history education at school, and I knew there was a world outside the British Isles that people needed to be aware of, but simply weren’t being taught about.
We’re a living history group. Bringing the past back to life is a powerful tool for this. As a group, our reproduction costumes and accessories really help drive home the splendours of early medieval Central Asia. This is the land of silk and silver.”
Just a couple of weeks ago, Nadeem shared some of the photos from the 2022 Soghdian Banquet Re-Enactment, the first since before the pandemic. Our time traveling spoons were stars at the event!
For more about Eran Ud Turan, you can visit these sites:
It’s such a delight to be able to contribute to the preservation of these historical traditions, in collaboration with our modern artist partners in Central Asia!
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