8 words to know in Tajik

Getting ready for a trip to Tajikistan? Check out these eight words that can help you understand Tajik culture and prepare for your travels

Kurpacha – a mattress Tajik people sit on when they chat and sleep on at night. Kurpacha is nice and soft, and back in the day, the wealth of the family was counted by how many kurpachas they had.

a beautiful Tajik lady sitting on a kurpacha

Plov – a traditional meal not only in Tajikistan, but all over Central Asia. Rice and carrots are cooked in a big wok together with mutton and its fat that soaks through the whole dish. Delicious!


Tandyr – it is a special oven where bread is cooked on fire, and breads are stuck to the ceiling of the oven, hanging on it. When I asked why they don’t fall down, they said the dough was prepared especially to be sticky for being cooked in tandyr.

tandyr bread.JPG
a kind of bread that comes out of tandyr

Kurutop – a dish made with soaking dried sour milk balls (kurut) together with a special kind of bread. Portions are huge and locals love it. I had a lot of stomach complaints after it, so as a foreigner, I wouldn’t eat it on my first day in Tajikistan.

Toki – a round hat people traditionally wear here. It is a part of the national costume, but it is also widely worn in the modern day Tajikistan, and you can see people in the streets and taxi drivers wearing toki. They are decorated with different embroidery according to the region they come from and are also called “tubeteyka” in Russian.


Joraby – warm knitted socks, good for the winter cold, especially in the mountains. Lovingly knitted by the women in the family for all the members, they can also be found by tourists in places that sell souvenirs.


Suzani – beautiful embroidery handmade out of silk thread. It used to be a part of a wedding dowry and ladies would embroider it for a long time to prepare for their wedding. Nowadays suzani are appreciated as art and can be bought and received as a gift from Tajikistan.


Istikloliyat – independence. I visited Tajikistan in October 2016, briefly after they celebrated 25 years of independence, and it looks like this year there was a serious independence promotion campaign held by the government. This word is written everywhere, on the national library, posters and painted on the walls and even high up in the mountains. Every Tajik will now proudly remember how much independence matters.


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