We planned a walk around Bukhara, and after a short visit to a market, we walked south of the city centre while the sun was still climbing in the sky. When we saw a big tennis complex, we knew we were close, walked around it through a dusty, quiet alley, and found the entrance to the cemetery, on the northeastern side. A small garden just behind the entrance was hiding the rest of the cemetery from our view, but once we got past that, we saw the first tombstones.
We soon noticed that almost all tombstones were black, with grayish faces and letters sketched on the black marble surface. Many tombstones have a pointed top, giving them a asymmetrical look. Often, we came across couples with a shared tombstone, or tombstones where the deceased was depicted in a sympathetic way, sometimes making them look almost alive. The cemetery consists of various sections; the central one seems to be reserved for the well-off, while the outer sections are much simpler tombs.
Here, you find row upon row of white tombstones, scarcely, if at all, decorated, sometimes with fences around them, stars on top, but sometimes with flowers. This was the impression we had: even though the cemetery at times gave an abandoned feel, we could also see that people still visit it, and leave flowers for their deceased relatives. While nowadays most of the jews traditionally living in Bukhara have left, mostly to Israel and the United States, the community used to be thriving in this city that now is almost totally Muslim. The Bukharan Jews are probably one of the oldest ethno-religious groups of the entire region, and while not living solely in this city, it was one of the places they were numerous until well into the 20th century. The cemetery is testimony to their presence, coming to life through the realistically and solemnly carved figures on the tombstones.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Bukhara Jewish Cemetery (Uzbekistan). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Bukhara Jewish Cemetery.
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