Stans Folks

Throughout my time in The Stans most of the folks I photographed posed for me. Often they initiated our contact asking me to taste what they were selling or just asking where I hailed from. Being from the universally recognizable New York City was a guaranteed conversation starter, just note the hat of the man in the first photo. More than once it happened that one of them would snatch the camera from me to then take the snap! The first few times this happened I, being well versed in the behaviors of urban Western Culture, instantly prepared to chase after the thief. Wrong! There was no thief, no crime in progress, no need for 911 or its Central Asian equivalent. Few folks love New York City more than I do, still this was simply not Times Square.

Culture counts!

For all my goodhearted, spiritually-based belief that we all be alike, us humans of the world, us children of the same God, these folks were different. This was the great lesson of my journey: just get used to that. These folks descended from nomadic peoples. Their attitudes toward everything from clothing to food to receiving travelers seemed predicated on that history of moving around and traveling light–not at all the same premises at the root of cultures based on staying in one place and accumulating everything from wealth to property to recipes to the products of art and industry. They welcome strangers as they would wish to be welcomed. (Yes, they can also be fearsome warriors and hard nosed business folks. Let that discussion be for another time.) No one we met hesitated to share. At bazaars and festivals, at a Sufi gathering people would invite us to dance with them or to eat the food they’d prepared. We were guests in their home and perfectly safe in all respects. Perhaps the extreme of this came when I bought a rug in Bukhara which was to be delivered, not taken. I paid cash, filled out the export paperwork and left. I did not request nor was I offered a receipt. The rug arrived at my apartment a week ahead of schedule.

I offer these joyful portraits to you, perhaps as encouragement to travel, certainly to brighten your day.


Samarqand Uzbekistan


Sufi retreat, Mary Turkmenistan


Ashgabat Turkmenistan bazaar


On the road: Bishkek to Lake Issyk-Kul Kyrgyzstan


Chorsu Bazaar, Tashkent Uzbekistan


Bread baker, Chorsu Bazaar, Tashkent Uzbekistan


Chorsu Bazaar, Tashkent Uzbekistan


Khiva Uzbekistan


Khiva Uzbekistan


Khiva Uzbekistan


Sufi retreat, Mary Turkmenistan


Suzani (hand embroidery) Sitoral Mokhi-Khosa Uzbekistan, Museum of Applied Arts


Kujand, Tajikistan


Istravshan Tajikistan


Published in: on May 29, 2018 at 1:31 pm  Comments (14)  

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14 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. The hat reminds me of our trip to Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania. We brought flip-flops and caps to give away, not sell. Before we left, Don went to a Goodwill store to buy lots of caps for about fifty cents apiece, and they were a great hit, especially The Lion King caps.


  2. From Gabriele K
    Loved your blogpost and the pics. Thanks for sharing!
    PS: I just might love NY more than you do. 🙂


  3. From Bruce K

    Great portraits. Looks like a great trip.


  4. Once again, beautiful pictures and interesting commentary.


  5. From Tobi Z
    Wonderful, Richard !!!


  6. From Richard S
    Awesome pics! Sound like an amazing trip.


  7. Vuong N

    Thank you my friend.

    The Stans are very friendly and receptive folks. Tradition seems the foundation of their culture.

    Beautiful and abstractive snaps you have my friend. I like them, my fav photographer, u r.


    Have a great day !


  8. Les W
    Out Stans ding!


  9. Richard,

    Your posts make my day. How I wish I could just view your materials instead of the ugly posts that I am served by “the news.”

    Norm Aulabaugh


    • Two possibilities for better viewing: hold your cursor over a photo, right click and then select “view image.” Next, by mid-June the book of Stans photos I’ve made will be available on


  10. Dorothy Q
    Never thought of the
    “Stans” as a vacation spot ; But you may have changed my mind!!


  11. From Bob G:

    Very fine work. The portraits capture character really well.


  12. Money never came into the picture.


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