Wednesday, August 15, 2007

July 31, Roshan - Shujand

Musarwal Minekov is one of the foremost practitioners of regional dance and music. He welcomed the team at his home in Shujand where he had arranged to bring together his group of dancers and instrumentalist to host us. Jonboz Dushanbaev from the village of Seponj in the Bartang Valley came along with us on our visit.

Many of the artists in Musarwal’s ensemble are men of the older generation. Their dances and music have sought to preserve the essence of their heritage and we hope that interest from younger generations will inspire them to continue in their art. Several highlights marked our visit.

Musarwal and Soibkadam Dastambuev showed us their instrument building workshop. Several beautiful Setars were in the process of construction, along with others in for commissioned improvements. Mr. Gulbek Bektibekov performed a Raqs-e Aspak (horse dance) with the help of Sohibkadam, we were also able to view the process of assembling the costume pieces as Mr. Bektibekov dressed for the dance. Certainly a highlight of the day was the musical interaction between Musarwal and Jonboz. Within Musarwal’s music and dance, there is an energy like a force of nature that takes effect at times.

Monday, August 13, 2007

July 29, 2007 Bartang - Sepong

The Bartang Valley in the Roshan district is one of the most scenic, culturally rich, and diverse areas in all of the Pamirs. We set out in our new improved travel vehicle, a spacious mashrutka van driven by Ilkholm, a good friend of TDI logistical consultant Uvaydo Pulodov, for the eight-hour journey from Khorog to Bartang. Mahingul Nazarshoeva has graciously accepted our invitation to join the team for the three-day visit to the region. Along with Aliah Najmabadi, Maruf Noyoft, Will Sumit, Nasiba Imomnazarova, Dilya Shadmonbekova, Uvaydo Pulodov, and Sharlyn Sawyer. The mood was festive, many songs were sung as we drove, and in the new van there was nearly enough room for dancing. Our hosts in the village of Sepong, dancer Sarkori and Jonboz Dushanbaev, were expecting us. On the way we stopped at the home of Musarwal Minekov in Shujand village, at the entrance to the Bartang Valley in Roshan, to make arrangements to visit him and his group on our way back.

We arrived at the house of Jonboz in the village of Seponj to pay our respects to one of the most venerable, accomplished and respected gentlemen of his time. An accomplished musician and singer, Jonboz is also a scholar of classical Iranian poetry, makes all of his own instruments, and is an expert on Bartangi culture, among many other talents too numerous to list. He is the senior Khalifa, the spiritual leader of the community. Jonboz is often invited to tour internationally as a musician, and will travel to Europe, Canada and the US this coming October 2007 for a series of concerts, enshallah.
  • Concert Series: The Spiritual Sounds of Central Asia
  • Coincidentally his traveling companion during this journey would be TDI international team member Will Sumit. Our trip to Bartang provided an opportunity for them to meet before the trip. We arrived at the house a little before sunset to find Jonboz in good health and inspired to play his gidjak (spike fiddle). Manhingul accompanying him on daf. He responded to questions from the team regarding Raqs-e Gidjak literally a dance with the gidjak, by demonstrating some moves in a casual fashion. We eventually moved on by foot to our destination for the night, at the home of dance master Sarkori and his family. It was like coming home for many in the team who had visited in 2006. We were welcomed and set up with places to sleep for the next two nights. Our visit to Sepong this year coincided with the full moon and watching it rise over the towering peaks surrounding the valley, lighting the Bartang river with its timeless, magical light was an indescribable, never to be forgotten experience. In the morning after breakfast the team got busy, Manhingul and Sarkori were filmed in a discussion about their various experiences as professional dancers. Sarkori is known for his dancing of the Raqs-e Sema or Motam form, which is danced at funerals. Although this dance is thought to have been more widespread in former times, it has all but disappeared in the rest of Badakhshan. It is still practiced only in Bartang. It was a rare opportunity to have these two artists share their reflections on the tradition and its meanings.Nasiba, Dilya and Maruf set up the equipment and filmed the discussion, using an ancient mulberry tree for a backdrop.

    Throughout our visit Jonboz joins us from time to time at the Sarkori house and a dance event was set up with Jonboz and other local musicians. Many of the women in Sepong with a talent for dance participated, including Sarkori’s daughter Marina. No one in the local group or TDI was to be excused from dancing.
    At one point Jonboz became so carried away with the joy of the moment that he began to dance playfully with the gidjak. He was joined by Mahingul for an impromptu choreography of a Raqs-e Gidjak ve Daf that gave everyone a case of the giggles.

    Sarkori shares with the team some rare old black and white photos, circa 1950, of the early professional dance and music performances in Badakhshan. The pictures included a photo of Mahingul's mother, a celebrated artist, now well into her 80’s playing rebab. Many of the old prints had badly deteriorated. He entrusted them to Mahingul and the TDI project archives. Later back in Khorog we were able to make digital scans and new print copies for Sarkori and Mahingul to ensure their preservation and future enjoyment by the family.

    Late that evening after dinner as the full moon began to rise, we made our way to a nearby courtyard that was a gathering place for the young people of Seponj. One of the guys had a boombox and, mostly in the pitch dark, the younger Bartangi crowd perhaps from 7 years and up, had a full-on wild dance disco going. Music was eclectic with modern instrumentation but basically Pamiri, and whenever a well-known song from Badakhshan was playing the energy levels reached new heights. Although the dance gathering started with the young crowd, people of all ages dropped in and danced with abandon, including Sarkori’s wife and family, Mahingul, and most of our TDI team, who were among the last to leave.

    July 25, 2007 Hosting Artists at Home

    Today we play host to a group of artists met during the July 11th celebration marking the 50-year anniversary of the current Ismaili Imamate in Porshienev (see archived post).

    Fakhriddin Alinazarovich performed traditional dance at the event. We have invited him to participate in the TDI project, asking him to allow us to videotape his work and interview him about his experiences as a dancer. He has invited several musicians to come and accompany his presentation at our homebase in Khorog. We are also delighted to have one of our dance teachers, the many talented Mahingul Nazarshoeva as a guest for the event.

    Having an event take place in our own house was both easier and more difficult. It was a luxury to set up recording equipment in advance, and decide on placement for the performance, rather than scrambling within the confines of the Pamiri houses during our visits in the field. And the downside? We discover a renewed sense of appreciation for the work and coordination it takes to host and feed a party of visitors in a traditional Pamiri house. Hosting would absolutely be incomplete without providing a full meal and many cups of tea. Here are a few examples of kitchens that have hosted the team. Our house Khorog is fairly well equiped in comparison, so we felt that in all fairness we should rise to the challenge.

    As Fakhriddin and the musicians arrive we have an interesting discussion. Many of the musicians that have come to help him out today as accompanists are prominent professional touring artists. They are now increasingly in demand internationally. There are considerations for their participation in a video taping session, due to various contractual obligations. A lively and revealing discussion of the parameters of the TDI project, intellectual property issues, and the local arts management environment ensues. The entire discussion is very interesting and positive, and certainly deserving of further investigation. It is also interesting to me personally that the Badakhshani musicians have some degree of artistic representation, and are aware of the issues, however this same sensibility rarely extends to dance. Either on the part of presenters/arts management or the dancers themselves. This is not a local phenomenon by any means, as we see examples of this contradiction throughout the performing arts industry worldwide. All is eventually ironed out to everyone’s satisfaction and Fakhriddin presents two formal choreographies that we videotape, with the musical accompanists providing a supporting role, Mahingul on percussion. He then indulged Will Sumit and Maruf Noyoft, our two male team members, by giving them an impromptu lesson in Pamiri dance techniques. These types of exchanges have really enhanced their dance knowledge and ability to participate in the various events, as they are invariably called up to dance on most occasions. Maruf, although originally from Badakhshan, spent most of his formative years growing up in Dushanbe concentrating on his music. His skills in traditional dance are only just starting to bloom. I am reminded through his experience of how easily a dance tradition can be lost, but also how empowering it is to reconnect with ones own heritage. Team members Dilyrabo and Nasiba proceed with the interview with Fakhriddin. And the meal? We managed to make a creditable job of it, all things considered.

    July 24, 2007

    Regretfully we bid farewell and Khodahofiz to team members Heather Rastovac and Nazir Turkhonov who are returning today… by jeep.... to Dushanbe. Heather has planned all along to return to the US mid-way through our fieldwork period. We were a bit discouraged though to see Nazir go back so soon, due to health and family issues. He plans to return to the TDI project when we begin working in his region of Khojand, and also participate in the seminar sessions during the fall and winter in Dushanbe.
  • Read About the Team
  • Sunday, August 12, 2007

    July 18, 2007 Ghunde Valley: Returning to Friends and Family

    The TDI team set out in two “Russian Jeeps”, (a fond term for the little 4-wheel drive Russian Neva cars that are the unsung heroes of the Pamir roads) to return to the Ghunde Valley with plans to visit with the family of singer Sultonazar and others. This visit would be an opportunity to renew the strong ties formed by team members during 2006 with a family who has greatly influenced many of the most popular traditional performing artists to emerge from Badakhshan in our time. For Tajik team member Maruf Noyoft ,whose family lives in the Ghunde Valley and is a nephew of Sultonazar this would be a homecoming. A visit to the sacred site, Mazar Imam Boqir is on the itinerary, it is hoped that we can get the opportunity to meet with one of the local Khalifas (religious and community leaders) who is an expert on the history of the region.

    Communications being a bit of a regional challenge, no reliable phones outside of the main town, the team has adapted various tactics for setting up visits in remote regions, a two pronged approach…........ 1) Inform any friends/family of the intended hosts that you may happen to meet during the week, (perhaps in the bazaar?), of your intended visit. 2) Drive there a day ahead of time and let them know that you will be back. And always bring gifts of food.

    The plan was made to inform our future hosts on our way up the Ghunde Valley to its uppermost reaches, and stay the night at the hot spring/spa at Jellandy. A plan that met with much enthusiasm from the team, especially in view of the fact that hot water, (or any water at all for that matter) had been making only rare appearances from the tap at the team’s Khorog house this week. So the journey went well….. Jellandy is an interesting place all in all, since phone service is nil, one never knows if there will be rooms or food available, or who or what other surprises might be in store. This visit was no exception. Although rooms and beds were eventually found for most of the team, some did sleep (or tried their best to sleep) in the lobby. The hot springs are also at a relatively high altitude, and this had its effect on several of the team members who suffered uncomfortable symptoms during the night. A cleaner, but slightly dizzy, team headed back down the valley the next day.

    The warmth of the greetings at Sultonazar’s home are palpable. The welcome we receive is testament to the trust and relationships that were nurtured during previous visits from team members. We are made welcome and are asked to convey greetings to the missing 2006 team members. The short student films made during last years visit, edited by the team at DomKino films during the winter seminars, are shown on DVD for the family and enjoyed by all. Sultonazar and his daughter then accompany the team to the Imam Boqir sacred site nearby. They tell us stories and legends about the site at the beautiful chashma (spring) up on the hillside. The chashma itself has been a pilgrimage site for generations and has some very interesting stories connected to it. One of them says that it was once believed that if you were to follow the spring into the mountain one would eventually come out in the next valley, Shokhdara and by following that spring in the mountain in Shokhdara one would find themselves in Ishkoshim, and so forth until one came out in Afghanistan and perhaps then Iran. So it is said that the Imam Boqir could make this journey through the mountain and appeared to the people. In a way one might see this as a wonderful metaphor for the interconnections of both the water sources and the life of the region. Inside the shrine at the bottom of the hill Sultonazar led a dua (prayer) for the team.

    As it happens Sultonazar has been performing his duties as a Khalifa the night before our arrival. There has been a recent death in the community and he has sung Maddoh (spiritual poetry) songs and sat awake with their family for the entire night.Although tired he is in fine form, and back at the house after a period of Maddoh songs his daughters, niece and several other nieghbors get up to dance. His niece in particular is a very talented young woman and her gift is completely spontaneous. Although she has not trained formally her talent is recognized immediately in her confident showmanship, and the effortless strength with which she interprets the movements. Many of our team could not help but think that she would be an asset to any professional touring ensemble. This young woman had also danced for the team in 2006, in a memorable presentation of Raqs-e Aspak (the horse dance), a highlight of last years Ghunde visit. This year immediately after her dance she again vanishes, like Cinderella at midnight. Thus her personal story once again eludes our team’s questions in 2007, and she remains a bit of a mystery.

    July 11, 2007 Golden Jubilee

    Our first fieldwork opportunity: The festival marking the 50th anniversary of the current Imamate of the Ismaili spiritual leader, Hazar Imam (the Aga Khan), a holiday known as Ba takhtnishini of Hazar Imam (also called the Golden Jubilee Celebration as this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Imamate). A bit of history is in order, just to get a sense of what this celebration meant to the Ismaili communities who celebrated this day all over the world, and to the people of Badakhshan in particular. I will attempt to provide here a brief outline of the basic Ismaili community history. Further information on Ismaili history and development programs can be found at:
  • Aga Khan Development Network
  • Ismailis
  • Most of the people living in the region of Badakhshan, both in Tajikistan and Northern Afghanistan just across the Panj River, are Ismailis, a branch of Shia Islam that believe the successor of the leadership, or Imamate of the Muslim faith, was the Prophet Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, Ali, and that the leadership would continue by hereditary through Ali in the Prophet’s family. Today, the Ismailis are one of the few branches of Islam that are led by hereditary Imam, the Swiss-born Aga Khan, who is the 49th Imam in a lineage of Ali and the Prophet’s daughter, Fatima. The Ismaili worldwide Jumat (meaning community or church) is very engaged in social development and has been a leader world wide in issues such as the status of women, education, cultural pluralism, and sustainable economic development. In fact the present Aga Khan has made tremendous non-sectarian humanitarian efforts worldwide, and has initiated many remarkable and progressive economic, agricultural, and cultural development projects. The Badakhshan region for example was kept from almost complete starvation due to the Aga Khan Foundation’s aid programs, particularly during and directly after Tajikistan’s recent civil war. Though poverty and high unemployment remain in the region, Badakhshan perseveres with hope, largely due to the generosity of the Aga Khan (who is the 49th Imam) and his timely intervention. Recently, in 2003, 200 million US dollars were pledged to establish a University if Central Asia in Khorog which opened its doors this year. Interestingly I have been informed by those who should know that there is a long-standing prophecy among the Badakhshani’s, that the people would ultimately be saved by the coming of the 49th Imam.

    Locally, the entire community of Badakhshan approached the celebration of Ba-Takhtnishini, or the Golden Jubilee, with a spirit of great hope and devotion. The event nearest to Khorog, 15 Kilometers away in the small town of Porshienev, was one of several regional events. Other events were also taking place in more remote districts such as Ghunde, Roshan, Darwaz, and Ishkoshim and also throughout the entire world. The Khorog/Porshienev event drew the most people locally. It was attended by between 20,000 to 30,000 from our team’s rough estimates. The town of Khorog was completely deserted by the mid-afternoon as people made their way to the event site en masse, young and old alike. Traveling to the celebration took on the aspect of a pilgrimage as people made their way, in many cases on foot for a good portion of the journey. Hand carrying many items such as food, water, and corpache’s (seating cushions) to a site about the size of four football fields. People started to arrive at 10am and by 5pm the grassy and scenic event area on the banks of the Panj River surrounded by the lofty peaks of the Pamirs had become a huge sea of families, shade umbrellas, and volunteers in red dresses or white button-down shirts and ties. It is a testament to the volunteer staff, and commitment of the attendees, that all went as smoothly as it did. An event of this size, with its many logistical and technical challenges was unprecedented for the region, and an impressive achievement in Badakhshan.

    Our team members attended the event as guests of the performing artists, who provided the presentations of dance, music and poetry for the celebrations. We were honored to be included in the day-long rehearsal activities on the day preceding the event as well. On the day of Ba-Takhtnishini we left Khorog at 9am and arrived at the site with the artists in the backstage area by 10. Waiting patiently until 7pm to start the performances, renewing friendships with artists we had met before and making new friends. Musicians included: Aqnazar, Gulomshoh Safarov, Berdov Khodapano, Anvar Nazirov, vocalist Sahiba, members of the Badakhshan Ensemble, and many others associated with the Khorog Theater performance group, ensembles from the Khorog Academy of Music, as well as several popular singers and musical groups. Dancers such as: Soloists Anargul, Fakhriddin Alinazarovich, Miss Tehmineh, and the dance ensemble directed by Mahingul Nazarshoeva performed throughout the evening. TDI team member Aliah Najmabadi made an unannounced solo dance appearance as well. Many presentations of classical Persian poetry, choral songs, and heartfelt speeches in honor of the occasion were interspersed in the presentations. The entire evening culminated, starting at around midnight, in film presentations. Historical documentaries presented the history of the current Imamate and an address from the Aga Khan, the Hazarat Imam, to Ismaili communities worldwide were shown on large screens erected for the occasion. When the event ended with the last film at around 2am, an exodus back to Khorog began. Most people, of all ages, were on foot due to the fact that most vehicle drivers were attending the celebrations with their families, and the masses of people filling the road blocking traffic. Most, including the local artists and some of the TDI team arriving back in Khorog, after a four hour 15 kilometer trek, well after dawn.

    Observations: Unlike almost any other happy occasion in Tajikistan, dance at this event was restricted to the formal stage performances, aside from an occasional brief and fleeting moment in the crowd. This may have been due in part to the devotional tone of the event itself, and to the often repeated requests from organizers for the attendees to remain seated for the purposes of crowd control. Our team was also disappointed as photos and video were strictly policed. We heard from the attendees of the other local events that this rule was not as strictly enforced at their celebrations.

    July 10, 2007 Home for the Summer

    All of our team members have arrived in Khorog and are settled into our home base for the fieldwork. It is immediately apparent that the team has benefited greatly from the skill building seminars over the winter period. Assembling equipment, shooting video with a steady hand and eye, framing and choosing subject matter, storyboarding, all members without exception, really capable and engaged. English skills are at an all time high on the team as well. Making teamwork easier for those on the international team (such as myself), who neglected their Tajik language homework to an unforgivable degree last winter!

    July 9, 2007 Chance Meetings

    We are drawn across the river from our house this evening by the sound of music. There is a pre-holiday celebration in honor of the coming events of July 11th (see posting) taking place in the courtyard of the apartment block in our old (summer 2006) neighborhood. We have begun to get used to the way that people meet as if by chance in Tajikistan, the right person just happens to arrive at the most opportune moment. In this case we see many people that we are hoping to see again, including our master dance teacher Ustad Zaragul Iskandarova, who pulls us into the dance to the music of Soltanazar, another wonderful artist. A wonderful start for the summer.

    July 7, 2007 Back in the Pamirs

    Sharlyn Sawyer and Heather Rastovac, having arrived in Khorog, are waiting for the arrival of the rest of the fieldwork team, also en route by jeep from Dushanbe. The 18-22 hour journey, over rough roads, can be an endurance test. One that is all too familiar for all residents of this remote district. There are usually alternatives to this rather grueling ride, in the form of light planes that fly on an irregular basis from Dushanbe. This year the flights have been even less frequent, due to the cancellation of one of the carriers usually serving this route. As a result obtaining a jeep or bus (mashrutka) was even a challenge for the team. Necessitating tenacious, heroic bargaining and great persistence on the part of TDI administrator Mr. Jahongir Munzim and other team members.
    We are happy to be living this year in a traditional Pamiri house and it will be interesting for us to see how we can best use the space to set up an office and handle our technical needs.

    July 2, 2007 Dushanbe

    TDI Project Manager Sharlyn Sawyer and the organization’s intrepid administrator, Jahongir Munzim arranged an evening event in collaboration with the Gurminj Museum in Dushanbe. The event served as an introduction for TDI to the cultural community of Dushanbe and a kick off for the summer fieldwork session of the 2007 Humanities Link Project. Among the guests were Mr. Jumaboy Shohmuradov, regional director for project partner The Christensen Fund, Mr. John Larsen the Minister of Cultural Affairs from the American Embassy, Mr. Safar Khakdodov Director of long term collaborator DomKino Films, our current English teacher Mr. John Hickey, and TDI 2007 Humanities Link team members. An arrangement was made for a showing of the student film projects from the 06-07 seminar period, and to talk a little about project plans for the coming year.

    Fall-Spring 06-07 Dushanbe Seminars

    After an intense summer of field work in Badakhshan the TDI team returned to Dushanbe to begin archiving activities and seminar programs. Seminars in Video Production/Post-Production, English, and Anthropology were planned through March 2007. The activities were arranged with the help of Ms. Munira Chudoba our Tajik consultant in Dushanbe, and TDI’s new Administrative Director Mr. Jahongir Munzim who we welcomed onboard in September 2006. In October 2006 five new Tajik interns were invited to join the team. New members invited to the team for fall ’06 were:
    Abdulnazir Turakhonov
    Azamat Burkhanov
    Gulya Ochilova
    Kurbon Bobojonov
    Zohidjon Ashurov

    Our continuing Tajik team members:
    Maruf Noyoft
    Nasiba Imamnazarova
    Safina Abdurazzakova
    Dilrabo Shodmonbekova

    TDI also invited members of the Dushanbe dance community to take part in seminars that were of high interest, such as the English and Video components. The TDI English classes were offered at the Padida Theatre facilities and the Anthropology Center at the Academy of Science. Ms. Maryam Gorbaieva, Padida’s principle solo dance artist, coordinated the participation of several of the younger Padida artists to attend English classes.

    Mr. Mukhamadali Muzaffar Director of the Anthropology Center collaborated with TDI to create a series of seminars for the team in Cultural Anthropology that took place at the Anthropology Center in Dushanbe.

    Independent film production company DomKino/KinoService designed and implemented courses in Video Production Technique and Post Production for TDI participants. During 06-07 Seminar Period Mr. Denis Beketov and DomKino Director Mr. Safar Khakdodov created a program model for teaching many practical skills for field recording, video editing and ethnographic film-making theory. DomKino intends to make use of the course material for future teaching. This highly successful collaboration with DomKino also provided unique opportunities for the TDI team to work on several professional productions and attend international workshops with the DomKino staff.

    One of the most popular teachers over the 06-07 Seminar Period was our English professor, Mr. Dana Abizaid. His unique and creative approach directly addressed the needs of our team members for practical, situational specific, conversation and public speaking, while at the same time providing a strong foundation in grammar, and writing skills.

    Sonja Hinz and Andrew Rick, two of the TDI international team members remained in Dushanbe through December 2006, taking an active role in the seminar process. The 9 interns formed three groups of three to accomplish work on student films featuring the materials and observations they had gathered during the summer field work in Badakhshan. In March 2007 the teams presented the product of their work in the form of three short videos at the DomKino cinema screening hall. This program included spoken presentations by the interns for an audience of TDI participants and other invited guests from the community.

    Although the planned seminar period officially ended in March some of the activities were continued due to popular demand and need. English classes held at the Padida Theatre had a loyal following among many of the young students and artists of the group. Despite the fact that Mr. Abisaid was called back to the US to complete his University degree it was important that the classes continue. Mr. John Hickey took over classes at Padida on a semi-volunteer basis staring in April 2007. Both Maruf Noyoft and Nasiba Imamnazarova have continued to engage with the DomKino center on additional production projects as well.

    Archives: 60 hours of videotaped dance, music and interviews are presently archived at the DomKino center in Dushanbe, additionally dubbed copies are archived in the US at the Afsaneh Art & Culture Society offices in San Francisco, California. Written field notes in digital format are also archived in Dushanbe with Mr. Jahongir Munzim TDI administrator and other Tajik team members, in the US with international team members, and at the AACS offices. Additional sites for archiving TDI materials that would be accessible to scholars and other participants are being discussed by the team.

    In March 2007 Aliah Najmabadi, who returns this year as a member of the TDI international team, made a three-week visit to Dushanbe for preliminary planning with the Tajik team for the 2007 summer fieldwork. Facilitated by Aliah the Tajik team met to make decisions for participation in the summer sessions. Based on assessments made of the seminar work they had accomplished, degree of engagement, and availability of the various interns, a team was selected to return to Badakhshan for 2007 fieldwork.

    Tajik Field Team 2007:
    Nasiba Imomnazarova
    Maruf Noyoft
    Dilrabo Shodmonbekov
    Welcome to our newest TDI team member!!:
    Abdulnazir Turkhonov

    International Field Team 2007:
    Aliah Najmabadi
    Heather Rastovac (part time participant)
    Will (Yasin) Sumit
    Sharlyn Sawyer

    Robyn Friend, TDI’s assistant project manager arrived in Khorog in early June to set up a residence for the rest of the TDI team and to do some preliminary research in the Bartang valley district with the help of local dance director/choreographer and folklore consultant Ms. Mahingul Nazarshoeva. A lovely house was set up for the team in the small central city of Khorog. Based in this beautiful and peaceful location on the Ghunde river, (directly across from the bazaar in case you want to visit) the team will travel to the outlying districts, continuing the fieldwork begun in summer 2006. Also in the proposed plan for the end of the fieldwork period is an exploratory expedition into the Wakhan district and Afghan Badakhshan, across the Panj River from Ishkoshim. If time and resources permit an exploratory visit to the Yagnob valley in western Tajikistan is also planned, following the return of the team to Dushanbe in late August.