Professional Beliefs and Rituals among Craftsmen in Central Asia: Genetic and Functional Interpretation
The problems of the area of Central Asia which I covered in my research are highly absorbing for various reasons. The first is the long existence in these territories of ancient city centres like Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Balkh, MazareSharif. The development of crafts in these and many towns in this region was connected not only with supplying the demands of the agrarian communities but also with production for the nomad shepherds. The second reason is the presentday differentiation of this territory, which used to be uniform, but which found itself within the borders of various countries from the second half of the nineteenth and the twentieth century and, hence, was subjected to the influence of several different cultural systems. The third reason is the appearance in these territories of a variety of categories of craftsmen which can be distinguished according to the organisation and the place of craftsmen in socio-economic life, as follows:
1. Craftsmen organised into guilds which appeared in the past in every larger town in this region, embracing a part of the craftsmen who inhabit the villages on the outskirts of these towns. Craft guilds still exist in Afghanistan providing the craftsmen, on the one hand, with a selfgovernment, and on the other, with a body for controlling the country's administration of crafts. However, in Uzbekistan and Tadzhikistan, guilds disappeared in the period following the October revolution and craftsmen were regrouped to form the cooperatives. In the late fifties, the craft cooperatives were reorganised into the State industry system (Jasiewicz 1977, p. 117).