Country Listing

Tajikistan Table of Contents


Culture and the Arts

As they did during the Soviet era, educated Tajiks define their cultural heritage broadly, laying claim to the rich legacy of the supraethnic culture of Central Asia and other parts of the Islamic world from the eastern Mediterranean to India. Soviet rule institutionalized Western art forms, publishing, and mass media, some elements of which subsequently attracted spontaneous support in the republic. However, since the beginning of Soviet rule in the 1920s, the media and the arts always have been subject to political constraints.


Despite long-standing Soviet efforts to differentiate between the Persian speakers of Central Asia and those elsewhere, Tajiks in Tajikistan describe all of the major literary works written in Persian until the twentieth century as Tajik, regardless of the ethnicity and native region of the author. In Soviet times, such claims were not merely a matter of chauvinism but a strategy to permit Tajiks some contact with a culture that was artificially divided by state borders. Nevertheless, very little Persian literature was published in Cyrillic transcription in the Soviet era.

Three writers dominated the first generation of Soviet Tajik literature. Sadriddin Aini (1878-1954), a Jadidist writer and educator who turned communist, began as a poet but wrote primarily prose in the Soviet era. His works include three major novels dealing with social issues in the region and memoirs that depict life in the Bukhoro Khanate. Aini became the first president of Tajikistan's Academy of Sciences.

Abu'l-Qasem Lahuti (1887-1957; in Tajik, Abdulqosim Lohuti) was an Iranian poet who emigrated to the Soviet Union for political reasons and eventually settled in Tajikistan. He wrote both lyric poetry and "socialist realist" verse. Another poet, Mirzo Tursunzoda (1911-77), collected Tajik oral literature, wrote poetry of his own about social change in Tajikistan, and turned out various works on popular political themes of the moment. Since the generation that included those three writers, Tajikistan has produced numerous poets, novelists, short story writers, and playwrights.

Data as of March 1996