Boysun represents a space of original folk culture and unique landscapes. It is located in the southwest spurs of the Guissar mountains. The mountain relief, location of deserts and rivers are such that the major road goes through the narrow “door” of Boysun connecting the southern and northern regions of Central Asia. Since ancient times, the international caravan and strategic routes crossed here. Farming and cattle breeding still remain the basic branches of Boysun’s economy, and the district is rich in coal and curative springs.
The railway “Tashguzar-Boysun-Kumkurgan” will be built along Boysun’s ancient routes in the next few years. It will be the shortest railway from Central Asia to Afghanistan. Today’s Boysun district is a part of Surkhandarya region, the southernmost territory of Uzbekistan. The area of the district is 3,713,000 square kilometers. Population – 86,000 people, of which 60% are Uzbeks from the clans of Qungrad, Qatagan, Qenagasi, Korakolpok, Tanghimush and Tokchi; and 40% - Tadjiks of the Sherhoji, Ghiesi and Samaghi clans. The majority of inhabitants are bilingual, speaking both Uzbek and Tadjik languages. Boysun is located 145 kilometers from the ancient city of Termez, which lies northern at the border with Afghanistan on the bank of the Amu Darya. In the district are seventy one villages; the biggest are Derbent, Pulhokim, Kofrun, Machai, Rabad, Sairob, Kurgancha, Panjob and Munchak. The population of Boysun town is twenty seven thousand people. The town includes five ancient settlements: Avlod, Pasurhi, Sariosie, Karabuyin and Kuchkak.
Boysun is a land of rare beauty with mountains, pediments and river valleys, its populated areas enclosed by a ring of mountains. The Boysuntog Mountain chain overlooking then north from the southwest to northeast and includes the massifs of Kulbat-tog, Susiz-tog, Sarimas, Chapty-Ketmen and Khodja Gurgur. The height varies from 1700 to 3800 m. Two river systems have their sources here; the first is formed by the small mountain rivers (“sai”) of Machai, Shurob and Gazak flowing into the Sherabad Darya, including the headstream of Sherbad Darya itself. The Tashkuprik, Alakutan, Pulihokim, Kelken and Kutgancha rivers flowing into the Surkhan Darya form the second system. A low chain of mountains not exceeding 1000-1400 m encloses Boysun valley to the south. It includes the mountains of Toka-Sakirt, Djitym-Kalyas, Agata-Chatil and Chimmai. Semidesertic piedmont hilly steppes adjoin the mountains to the east, south and west. Small lakes are located deep in the mountains.
Grandiose, vertical rock strata rising up to several hundred meters form a typical picture of the Boysun foothills, and can be seen over many tens of kilometers. In the remote geological past the territory of Boysun lay at the bottom of the sea. Today the fantastic landscapes formed by marine and lagoon deposits, represent almost the full palette of colors. The red, green, white and bluish colors of the soil create rugged, “cosmic” landscapes. Sometimes the Boysun foothills remind one of the landscapes of Texas known from Hollywood films. Especially interesting is the reddish plateau of Kizilcha. Cut by narrow canyons, it occupies several tens of square kilometers and closely adjoins the town of Boysun. Water and wind are diligently working at the loess soil of Kizilcha, producing fantastic forms, and the sun moving in the sky creates a play of light and shade so that Kizilcha is instantly transformed behind your eyes.
The land of Boysun hides many mysteries which are waiting for archeologists to discover the historical value of this region. The first traces of civilization after the Neolithic sites relate to the 17th-15th centuries B.C. They belong to the tribes of the late Sappali culture. In the 14th – 13th centuries B.C. the Bandykhan oasis in the south of Boysun was occupied by new tribes. The artificial channel going through Bandykhan settlement witnesses the introduction of irrigated agriculture. From that period humun occupation in uninterrupted in the middle of the 1st millennium B.C. Boysun became a part of ancient Bactria, a satrapy of the Achaemenid Empire. The area of Bandykhan extended up to 13 hectares. In the 6th-4th centuries B.C. a new settlement (today’s Gazimullah-tepa) rose beside it, occupying an area of about 10 hectares. In the lower reaches of the Bandykhansai a big settlement grew up near the kishlak of Khodja. The first settlements rose at the foothills of Boysuntog during this period. They were located along the major route going from the Amu Darya to Sogdian domains. Their traces have been preserved at Sultankul-tepa near Derbent kishlak and at Munchak-tepa near the kishlak of Munchak. Boysun warriors may have been moving the Bactrian troops participating in Achaemenid military campaigns in the Middle East. It is known that the Bactrian cavalry acquitted itself with honour during the battle of Darius III at Gavgamels.
Archaeological material suggests that Boysun represents the “Meadow Land” – Margiana mentioned in antique sources in connection with the campaign of Alexander the Great. Quitnus Curtius Rufus described the movement of the Alexander’s army: “Crossing the rivers of Ochus and Îxus, he arrived to the city of Margiana. The places for six fortresses were chosen… close to each other in order to provide prompt support. All of them were located on high hills as a bridle for conquered tribes”. In 2003, the Boysun expedition discovered that the round fortress of Kurganzol to the south of Rabat dated to the time of Alexander.
Earlier the fortress of Poenkurgan was excavated to the north from Rabat. Scholars consider that they were the two of Alexander’s six fortresses. The rock-fortresses of Bactrian rulers which Alexander's army had to assault were probably located here, around the Iron Gates at Derbent. The rock of Arimazus is localized today at the cuesta of Sarymas, and the rock of Sisimitures is associated with the ruins of Uzundara fortress on Susyz-tog cuesta. To the east of Boysun Alexander took the fortress of Chorienes where he captured the daughter of Oxiartus, the beautiful Roxana. The Bactrian chiefs Oxyartes, Sisimitures and Chorienes kept their domains and property, while Roxane became the wife of Alexander and gave birth to his son. Upon the death of Alexander Bactria became part of the Seleucid state and later formed the core of the Greco-Bactrian kingdom.
The legendary Iron Gates were located in Boysun. They consisted of an artificial barrier in the mountain canyon, built to regulate the caravan trade and customs. They were well-known at the Great Silk Road. According to Chinese traveller Xuan Tzang, in the 7th century there were wooden gates coated with iron, with numerous bells. The customs station operated for many centuries, and the beginning of the 15th century still brought, good income to Amir Temur. The Iron Gates were located on the old road in the canyon of Dara-i Buzgala-khana 3 km to northwest from Shurob kishlak. The canyon is 2 km in length and from 10 to 50 m in width. “Dara-i Buzgala-khana” means “Canyon of the Fallow-Deer’s House”, that could be connected with a legend about Chinggis-khan who met a talking-fallow-deer at the Iron Gate and followed its advice to stop his conquest. The “Cave” sura from the Koran also mentions the construction of a metal barrier against wild tribes of Goghs and Magoghs initiated by Iskander Zul-i-Karnain (Alexander the Great). The oriental tales about Alexander refer to it as the Iron Gate, and Alisher Navoi called it the “Bank of Iskander”. Such a legend could have arisen from the fact that during two millennia at the strategic mountain pass of Boysun there were first the defensive structures of the Greco-Macedonians, which then became a part of Kushan defensive complex and later, the customs station with the Iron Gates.
One of the most visited places in Boysun is the salubrious spring of Omonkhona. Its water has a temperature of about 13°C and posses properties to cure liver diseases. For improvement of health it is recommended to drink this water during 7-10 days. A good curative effect may also be obtained by taking a bath filled by the water of Omonkhona. At the end of the last century a small sanatorium was build near the spring.
Treatment here use not only water but also tinctures and oils from rock herbs and wild almonds. The spring is in a very beautiful canyon. Overhanging rocks create natural niches canopies to shelter visitors in hot weather. Near the spring is a cave used by local inhabitants as a refrigerator. Foodstuffs in the cave can be stored for up to half a year. Local inhabitants consider Omonkhona as a holy place.
On a high rock is the mazaar of Khoja Sulton Vali. The name “Vali” in Central Asia is usually given to people has the gift of foretelling the future. At the spring were buried the Saint himself, his mother and three sons. The holiness of Omonkhona is also proved by the presence of numerous clans of ishans and khojas in the nearby kishlak; in the past reached thousands of people.
According to local legend Omonkhona was the last haven of the spiritual pir (master) of Amir Temur. This perhaps refer to Sayid Umar, the son of Baha ad-Din Naqshband’s mentor Sayid Amir Kulal. It is known that he died in a place called Band-I Ohanin or Darband-i Ohanin, and was re-buried after one year. His grave is generally considered to be in Gur-i Emir Mausoleum, nearthat of Amir Temur.
The ancient kishlak of Sairob is located to the south from the Iron Gate at distance equal to one day’s walk. The ruins of a medieval settlement (11th -beginning of the 13th century) are preserved on the natural terrace of the right bank of the Sherabad Darya. A long rocky ridge resembling a dragon’s back protects the kishlak on the east. Sairob is one of the major centers of folk crafts in Boysun.
Carpet weaving and artistic embroidery, woodcarving, manufacture of leather products, yurts, musical instruments and felt are made here. Caravans once stopped in Sairob, and now long-distance buses do. The first sight of Sairob is a grove of centuries-old plane trees. Two of them have huge hollows which could hold up to ten people. The museum of folk crafts is located in them. In the center of Sairob, over against the grove, is a spring with sacred fish taken care of by the local people. It is said that looking at silvery fish could improve eyesight. The Mazar of Khodja Muhammad Shah is located on the cemetery mound. The old gravestones – “kabrtoshes” of yellow-red stone, can be nearby.
Whereas gardening and field work is a man's task, women are skilled in spinning wool, dying and weaving of yurt bands and carpets. The local embroidery style depict large round multicolored patterns on a bright background. The skull caps, tubeteikas, are much in demand by foreign visitors, they are sold in the trading domes of Bukhara and the Medresse shops of Samarkand. Handmade jewelry from black, orange, red, yellow and green beads are all the rage.
CUSTOMS & TRADITIONS
Although Islam is the prevailing religion, many customary rituals which govern life from birth to death have distinct pre-islamic traits. The cradle celebration, circumcision, engagement and marriage, ritual meetings of men and women, and funeral ceremonies are still observed. There is much historical heritage and native wisdom in these traditions, they keep society intact, set the rules and structure the yearly calendar. Shaman healers and story tellers are an integral part of life, some enjoy widespread fame in the area and provide a reason to travel outside of the village boundaries for the ill or ill-fated. They still hold their trance-like ceremonies, telling the future and dispelling evil spirits.
The spiritual world of Boysun is reflected in its folklore: music and song, games and dances, epic stories and the art of the bakhshi, the singer of tales and legends. The heroic Uzbek epic poem Alpamysh originated here.
Religious prayer includes chants that are connected with ancient myths, animism, and are magical to listen to even for the non-initiated. Traditional ensembles of musical instruments of Boysun play the obligatory karnai and surnai (similar to an alphorn) at weddings. The riding game Kup Kare is also accompanied by a local orchestra of surnai, karnai, nagora, doira and doul. In folklore performances, male dancing is prominent, including the battle dance, the sword dance, rope pulling contest and many others. The Boysun folklore ensemble was created in 1975. It includes people of various professions and age who love the ancient culture and traditions. They meet and record old songs and customs and dances and collect traditional costumes, and have created an original repertoire. The ensemble has performed at international festivals of native art in Russia, Poland, Afghanistan, and the UK. Since the independence of Uzbekistan, the Boysun ensemble has become a national symbol of indigenous folk culture.
1. Alexey V. Arapov. Boysun. Masterpieces of Central Asia.- Tashkent, San'at, 2005
2. Internet sites materials
3. Pictures made by Admin