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Uzbekistan: The Hard Labor Behind Soft Silk

As has always happened at the end of every May, neighbors, friends and relatives in the village of Boyovul came together for the khashar, an event when everyone has to participate in joint labor to sort and clean silkworm cocoons. (Photo: EurasiaNet.org)

As has always happened at the end of every May, Nasiba Barkasheva’s home burst with frenetic activity as the silkworm cocoon harvest reached its conclusion.
 
Neighbors, friends and relatives in Boyovul, a village around 50 kilometers from Uzbekistan’s capital, Tashkent, came together for the khashar, an informal institution that joins the community in a blend of labor and celebration. While one group at Barkasheva’s home sorted and cleaned the cocoons, some cooked plov while others belted out folksongs and danced.
 
This year, after 20 days of laboring day and night gathering heaps of mulberry leaves and feeding them to box-loads of insatiable larvae, Barkasheva, a 63-year old pensioner, let herself hope for a bountiful harvest. With her 30 years of experience, she has developed an eye for predicting the harvest. At first glance, she reckoned on around 80 kilograms.
 
Caring for silkworms is delicate, but draining work.
 

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Uzbekistan: The Hard Labor Behind Soft Silk

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