Legends of Uzbekistan

How Samarkand got its name

A long time ago, in a region of Central Asia, there was a great and wicked king who lived in a beautiful castle. One day his wife gave birth to a beautiful daughter and they named her Kant, which means sugar in the Uzbek language. About the same time, there was a baby boy born to a very poor family. They named him Samar, because he was handsome and strong. As he grew up, he became very famous for his bravery, and he competed in all the athletic events.One day the princess met the young man in the garden of the castle. They were so attracted to each other that they agreed to meet every day in the garden. As they got to know each other, their love grew stronger and stronger. One day Kant's father learned of their secret meetings and became very angry. He did not like Samar because he was very poor, and considered him beneath his daughter. When Kant told her father that she wanted to wed Samar, the king decided to kill him. When the broken hearted Kant learned of his death, she threw herself from the top of the castle. All of the people of the city were grief-stricken, and they renamed their city Samarkand after the two lovers.

Legend of Sumalak

Long ago there was a woman who had two sons. Their names were Hasan and Husan. Because she was a widow and very poor, they had very little to eat, and her sons always cried from hunger. One day, their mother became very weary of their crying, and sorrowful that she had no food to give them.That evening, after they had gone to bed, she asked her neighbor for some wheat, and then took a pot from the cupboard into which she placed 7 stones, poured water over the stones and stirred in the flour. Her sons heard the commotion, and thought their mother was cooking something delicious to eat. Reassured that they would soon have a good meal, they became quiet, closed their eyes and fell asleep. A little later their mother also slept. When she awoke in the early hours of the morning, she saw 30 angels standing around the pot. She rubbed her eyes, and when she opened them again, she saw them licking their fingers.In her delight, she woke up her sons. In their excitement they ran to the pot and found it filled with a most succulent porridge. From that time forth the boys were never hungry. The name of the meal was called Sumalak which, the Uzbek people say, means 30 angels.

The Fountain of Aiyub

A long time ago in the Central Asian desert, where the city of Bukhara is situated, the people were dying of thirst. There was not even a single drop of water to be found. One day, the people were so thirsty, that they all sat down and prayed. They looked to the heavens and asked God for rain. It wasn't long before He sent a messenger to rescue them. The messenger's name was Aiyub. He had a stick and with it he struck the earth. At the place where he struck the earth, a hole suddenly appeared and a fountain gushed forth. It wasn't long before they discovered the great cures that could be achieved by drinking this water. The people were so happy that they built a beautiful shrine there. To this day, many people visit the well to partake of the refreshing clear, clean, healing waters, and to pray in thankfulness to God.

Silk of Kings

Once upon a time, the Khan of Margilan, who already had four wives, decided he wanted a fifth. He fell in love with the beautiful young daughter of a local artisan. The artisan did not want to marry off his daughter, and asked the Khan to change his mind. The Khan respected the artisan and his skill, and said he would consent to the man's wishes if he created something more beautiful and wonderful than his daughter in the course of one night. The artisan struggled with this throughout the night, and as morning broke, had not succeeded. At dawn, he sat by a stream, lamenting the loss of his daughter, when suddenly, reflected in the blue water he saw all the colors of sunrise, clouds, and a rainbow, and knew what he had to do. From this incredible vision, he created a silk that was unsurpassed in beauty and originality. He brought a piece of the fabric to the Khan. And the Khan could not help but agree that the fabric was more wonderful than the artisan's daughter, and agreed to rescind his marriage proposal.From this legend, the silk of the Ferghana Valley received its name, "Khan-Atlas", or "Silk of Kings".

Navoi and the Builder

Once there was a young man who earned his living as a builder. He was a very kind young man, and each day on his way to work he would settle arguments between people in the street, and if someone had some kind of difficulty he would always help them. Alisher Navoi, the great distinguished poet, seeing that the young man had such a character, would always try to greet him first, which is a sign of great respect and honor in this land. The young man was surprised that Navoi had such a kind attitude toward him.

One day the builder thought, "I always help people to settle their arguments, and I always help them pull their wagons out of the mud, but I've never prayed five times each day, and I have never kept the fast, why is it that such a fine citizen as Alisher Navoi always shows me so much respect? There is no reason for it by the way I spend my life."Then, in order to be worthy of so great an honor, he said to himself, "I have no family, why do I need the world?" So he raised his hands to God, and became a believer. Every day, he would sit in the mosque and pray, never speaking to anyone as they passed. One day, as the young builder was holding the prayer beads, Navoi was passing by the mosque with a young follower, and the builder thought, "Oh, Navoi can see the future. He knew that one day I would become a religious man". And, thinking of this, he stood up, bowed, and greeted Navoi, but Navoi didn't look at him, and, indeed seemed not even to notice him. The young man excused this. He thought, perhaps, it was because the poet was talking to his young companion, that he paid no attention. After several days, Navoi passed by the mosque again. The young man again stood up and greeted him with a low bow, but again the poet paid no attention. After several days, Navoi passed by the mosque again. The young man again stood up and greeted him with a low bow, but again the poet paid no attention.The young man was surprised and asked, "Oh, my Lord, you always greeted me before, when I was not praying - when I was always among the people. But now when I am praying from morning to night, and I greet you, you simply ignore me. What is the reason?""Oh, my son," said Navoi, "when you were among the people, you helped them, but now from morning to night you are only living from the alms of the people. This is the reason I pay no attention to you." His words went to the heart of the young builder, who again took up his former life.