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November 7, 2002

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Sufism is a mystical sect of Islam, each one founded by a charismatic religious leader. Sufis believe in simpler religious form and direct revelations with God; there is also an element of shamanist beliefs - any orthodox Muslim probably thinks of Sufis as cultists that have lost their way. The most important Sufi sect, the Nashqbandis, was founded at Bukhara in the 14th century. Like pilgrims we made a short excursion from Bukhara to the mausoleum of Bakhaudtin Nashqband, the founder of that influential Sufi sect that bears his name. Beside the grave we sit with a priest who chants a prayer. We make some prayers of our own too.
The architecture of Bukhara's covered bazaars is more attractive than the goods inside.
Chor Bakr, another town of the dead built around a large mausoleum made for an unknown ruler. Forget about entertainment or even a beer around here. It's more fun to find our way to this dead zone, outside of Bukhara, by hitching rides and walking through cotton fields.
This little monuments, the Ismail Samani mausoleum, stands as one of the most impressive in Central Asia, featured on many stamps and postcards, because it is unique and old - 905 AD, pre-dating glazed tilework, it's delicate terracotta brickwork has survived the ages. Zoroastrian symbols clearly show along the edges.
Domino sharks in the park.