THE TAJIKTajik: (tah-jeek) (n) a member of a people inhabiting Tajikistan and neighboring areas in Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and China; the Iranian language spoken by the Tajiks, which is closely related to Persian, but in Tajikistan is written in the Cyrillic alphabet.

Map of the Tajik people in Central Asia.

The Tajiks are Indo-European people who settled in the northern part of the Amu River (which is presently Uzbekistan). In the late 1800s the Tajiks were split into 2 groups. The majority of the people moved to a place that would later be called Tajikistan, which was part of the former Soviet Union; while the rest of them became a large majority in Afghanistan. There was a Civil War in Tajikistan in 1992-1993 where thousands of people lost their lives and hundreds of thousands fled to Afghanistan. The country is still at war today, as part of the civil war and “ethnic cleansing”; however it has calmed down since the start of the Civil War. (MF)

Tajikistan is slightly smaller than Illinois. There is 2 regions of Tajikistan: North and South. The Zarafshan Mountains run through Tajikistan, and with its lush valleys and flat plains, it creates the northern boundary of their traditional homeland (kulturbund). In this region the Tajik and Uzbek cultures have come together. When the Soviets redid the map of the Central Asian Republics, they gave the main Tajik cities of Samarqand and Bukhara to the Uzbeks. Restoring these cities to the original Tajik culture is a main goal of the Tajiks. (MF)

Family is a very important aspect of the life of a Tajik. Typically the families are large yet widely dispersed across several cities (this tactic improves the Tajiks' resource intake). Most of the marriages are arranged where the father of the groom pays for the "tuy," or celebration. Kids and the elderly are considered the "privileged" groups of society. Children attend most family gatherings and are usually considered the "life of the party." The elderly people are greatly respected and when issues are brought to their attention, their advice is rarely ignored. (MP)

Women have many freedoms within the Tajik ethnicity. Women who have married will usually shave their eyebrows and begin wearing clothing which shows she is in fact married. They are allowed to file for divorce and even receive half of the family's assets when the divorce is final. Muslim wives typically stay at home and take care of the children while other women, primarily Soviet Union-influenced women, will become a part of many aspects of society including becoming members of parliament. (MP)

*note Tajik is pronounced incorrectly in the video

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