Urgut Market: Samarkand’s Shopping Secret
The labyrinthine Urgut Market in Samarkand, Uzbekistan appears to be an ordinary covered bazaar selling housewares, clothing and necessities. But way out back in the open air, stalls spill from the covered area to form wandering lanes where women draped in the melting colors of ikat robes and men in black and white tubeteika caps sell their handcrafted wares.
Here merchants and shoppers alike may greet you with surprise and delight simply because you’re a foreigner. Sumptuous suzani, the finely embroidered coverlets that Uzbek women have designed and created for hundreds of years, are handed down for inspection with long poles. Nearby, hundreds of brilliant quilted, tassled, beaded and embroidered caps are displayed like flowers, in clumps and drifts.
A fabulous place to people-watch, the Urgut Market draws local people, and a few foreigners, from miles around. Yes, cheap plastic ware and synthetic clothing from China can be found if that’s what you’re hunting for. But hidden away behind these everyday items are the wonderful textiles and adornments of the Silk Road that have kept buyers and sellers busy for a thousand years.
(Top photo credit: Douglas Grimes)
PUBLISHED: December 15, 2014