The Central Asian Republics have held a certain fascination for me since I was a little girl and my dad came back from what we joked was a “literal field trip.” He worked for the Foreign Agriculture Service, and we were posted to Moscow in 1978. Since he was trained as an agricultural economist, it was part of his job to explore the “bread basket” of the Soviet Union to determine what the US could expect in terms of agricultural output and needs.
When he and my mom brought back a long-haired Persian cat from one of those trips, the region cemented itself in my heart.
It’s had a turbulent history for being the ninth-largest country in the world. Probably because it’s the largest land-locked country in the world. According to archeologists, this is the region responsible for domesticated horses. Its culture is an agglomeration of Turkish, Indo-Iranian, and eventually Mongolian, when it was invaded and became part of the Mongol Empire in the 13th century.
Their traditional, nomadic lifestyle led to the kinds of elaborate yurts you see pictured above. The rugs they produce, like those pictured above feature repeatedly in the Red Slaves series, and represent an interesting insistence on cultural expression and independence in the face of sometimes violent Soviet suppression and repression as that region was absorbed into the Soviet Union.