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Alisher Navoi Literary Museum

A tall statue of the poet announces his museum. Born in Herat, Afghanistan in 1441, he was educated there, and at Meshed and Samarkand, and enjoyed illustrious careers in literature and politics. His skills extended to painting, music and sculpture, while his benevolence endowed countless mosques, schools and hospitals. An early work, the Judgement of Two Languages, proved that Chagatai, the eastern Turkish vernacular, could be as richly descriptive as Persian or Arabic. He remained a bilingual craftsman, writing poetry of romance, nature and philosophy in both Chagatai and Persian, but it was his development of the former that lends him the mantles Chaucer of the Turks and Father of Uzbek Literature. He died in Herat in 1501.

Although he was born in Herat, Afghanistan, the Uzbeks have taken Alisher Navoi very much to heart and declared him the father of Uzbek literature.

Housed in an attractive neoclassical building constructed to mark the 500th anniversary of Navoi's birth, the museum displays manuscripts and miniatures, photographs and archive documents as well as a small number of paintings, some of them replicas. Also featured are copies of the busts of Tamerlane and his son Shah Rukh, created by the archaeologist who examined their bones, and a model of the famous observatory of Shah Rukh's son, Ulug Beg. Besides memorabilia of 15th-century poet Alisher Navoi and other Central Asian literati, the Navoi Literary Museum has replica manuscripts, Persian calligraphy, and old miniatures that offer a glimpse of life in the 15th and 16th centuries.

The interior of the museum building is itself decorated with large-scale murals depicting garden and palace scenes inspired by Navoi's Khamsa.


69 Navoi St (tel. 241-0275) (10am-5pm, closed Saturday).