Bukharan Jews - Economy

An overwhelming majority of Bukharan Jewish men practiced the craft of yarn dying, which they monopolized almost totally in Central Asia. Those who dyed yarn with indigo dye were called kabudgar, whereas those who used other colors were called rangborchi. Men also practiced other crafts, among them weaving, jewelry making, distilling, tailoring, haberdashery, and hairdressing. Women often were cooks or laundresses or baked bread for sale; they were and continue to be dancers ( sozanda ) at weddings and other familial celebrations, both Jewish and Muslim.

After the Sovietization of Central Asia many Bukharan Jews, having lost the opportunity to engage in their traditional crafts, began to work at silk-winding, textile, sewing, cotton-processing, butter-churning, brick-making, and other factories as well as in granaries and in small-scale, low-technology workshops. Women were a large portion of the work force. About 1,000 families worked in agriculture, although most soon abandoned that.

At the present time, a significant number of Bukharan Jews work in service and trade professions. Among them are many shoemakers, hairdressers, tailors, and photographers. There are also a large number of educated people: engineers, doctors, teachers, and musicians. There is a creative intelligentsia of writers, poets, artists, and scholars.

Clothing. The traditional costume of the Bukharan Jewish man consisted of a long shirt, trousers, a robe, a round hat of Asnakhan fur with a velvet top, and leather shoes or, in winter, soft boots. Women wore over-and undershirts, trousers, a kerchief, and leather shoes.

Food. Bukharan Jews ate beef, mutton, domestic poultry, rice, fruits, flour products, and milk products. Food was strictly divided into dairy and meat products in accordance with Jewish law. Dietary laws governing the acquisition, preparation, and consumption of food were strictly observed.

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