Event Detail

22
Jun
2009

Tajikistan: Jewel of the Pamirs

Huw Thomas
Monday, 22 Jun 2009
2/F Olympic House, So Kong Po, Causeway Bay


THE ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY HONG KONG

presents

"Tajikistan: Jewel of the Pamirs "

by
Huw Thomas

on
Monday, 22 June 2009

2/F Olympic House, So Kong Po, Causeway Bay

Drinks Reception 6.30 pm; Lecture 7.30 pm

We are delighted to welcome to Hong Kong Huw Thomas to lecture on Tajikistan, a magical land set in the lee of the Pamirs, previously closed to outsiders but now open to all to enjoy its majestic landscapes and history. Mr. Thomas is a world expert on Tajikistan and presents a lecture richly illustrated lecture with superb slides. Tajikistan was part of the closed world of the Soviet Union, which was followed by a terrible civil war in the early 1990s. Now the country welcomes visitors, yet very few have visited, leaving one of the most untouched parts of central Asia.

Tajikistan is a land of huge and magnificent mountains, with people whose hospitality is an integral and natural part of their culture. It is an ancient civilization stretching back 2,000 years, with a rich cultural history intertwined with Persian inheritance. It is a land of great diversity: there is the grandeur of the Pamirs and also the magnificent mountain ranges of the Hissar, Zarafshan and Fan; in the east are the high plains of Murghab, home to the seminomadic Kyrgyz people; and the fertile Ferghana valley in the north is the cradle of many civilizations, with great ruined cities. The baking plains of the south run down to the great Amu Darya, or the River Oxus, rich with the history of the many invaders who went this way, including Alexander the Great.

In this lecture, Mr Thomas covers many aspects of Tajikistan, including its population, ethnic groups, religion, languages, politics and the economy. He gives a brief history, concentrating on modern times and a description of some of the challenges now facing the country. The centerpiece of the lecture is a series of slides used to illustrate various aspects of the country: mountains, travel and roads, people, traditional occupations, culture, rivers, the ancient city of Istaravashan, Penjikent, "The Pompeii of Central Asia ", Khudjand, the south, TakhtI Sangin. He also mentions the celebrated solid gold Oxus Treasure, which is believed to have originated in Tajikistan, but was rescued from being melted down in the bazaars of Pakistan by the British Museum in the 19th century, and is now one of the museum's most popular exhibits.

Huw Thomas was educated at Birmingham University, before joining the British National Health Service. He subsequently worked for three years for Aga Khan Health Service in Tajikistan, based in the magnificent Pamir Mountains. He has visited all parts of the country on his numerous visits, and also much of central Asia, all the way from Afghanistan to China. Huw Thomas is coauthor, with Robert Middleton, of the Odyssey Books and Guides publication, "Tajikistan and the High Pamirs A Companion and Guide ".

Members and their guests are most welcome to attend this lecture, which is HK$100 for Members and HK$150 for guests and others.

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