- Nowruz ceremony
This type of national art reached a high level of development in the epochs of the Sasanids (224-651 A.D.), and Samanids (819-1005 A.D.). The most typical kind of national entertainment art was pantomime. In pantomime the actors performed in masks in a conventional realistic manner. Actors played fantastic supernatural creatures: albastibozi (demon), rubohbozi  (fox), sherbozi  (lion), maimunbozi  (monkey), u’qobbozi  (eagle), khirsbozi  (bear), etc.
Many types of national entertainment art have been preserved until today. In the Pamir area, the mugulbozi  drama “Mongolian woman”, bobopirak  (“old man”), kalandabori darvish and others can be mentioned.
Zochabozi puppet theatre is popular and has an ancient history. Zochabozi had traditional forms and principles of performance, but the plots were different. The puppeteer’s art was important in such big cities as Samarkand, Bukhara, Khujand, and Ura Tyube. Puppeteers’ troupes included surnaychi , kehtabozi (puppeteers), and nagorachiho — performers on the musical percussion instrument nagora . Maskharabozes  — clowns were also part of groups in Bukhara.
Ghosts’ tent (chodirhayol) has a special place in Tajik national entertainment art. This type of national entertainment has ancient roots in pre-Islamic sources like Drakhti Assurik  (“Assurian tree”). A puppet performance was mainly made using hands. Performances were given at the New Year on the 21st of March, and also during family and holiday rituals (for example the birth of a child). Usually a group consisted of 9 men (a puppeteer, 4-5 musicians, 1-2 dancers, masharabozes , and acrobats – darbozes ). Pohlvonkachal , the lame hero, is one of the most widespread characters. Programs featured events in the social life of Tajiks.
National performances of Oftobkhon and Mohtobkhon also reflected domestic problems. Puppeteers’ performances were of a syncretic character: they combined singing, dances and games.
Comical plays, which lasted for more than an hour, were popular. These are khisrbozi  (“bear playing”), bulbulozi  (“nightingale playing”), and hindubozi  (“Indian playing”). Texts were improvised during performances.
The maskharaboz  type of entertainment art has ancient roots. Maskharaboz is of a syncretical character. The actors not only used dramatic performance but also pantomime, songs, dances, and elements of the circus. Popular characters of maskharabozes are rais , judges, mullahs, qaz’i , etc. The most well known Tajik maskharabozes such as H. Boboev, H Radjabaliev, Usto Tula, S. Abdulloev and others lived in Bukhara, Karatag, and Samarkand.
Tajik traditional dance
Tajik dance is an ancient art and is connected to domestic life. It accompanies all-important events like births, family holidays and so on. Ancient rituals, games, and stories from real life were the bases of Tajik national dance. In written sources and sections of scientific works, traditional dance is spoken of as a special type of entertainment art; general artistic aesthetical aspects of dance are discussed there as well.
- Pantomime dance, the most ancient type of dance, is based on copying animals and birds (sherbozi  — lion, u’qobbozi  — eagle, rubohbozi  — fox, laklakbozi  — stork, etc.)
- Ritual dances raqshoi marosimi . This group of dances still exists. In mountainous regions of Tajikistan (Pamir and neighbouring area) a poyamal  dance near a dead body still is performed. Close relatives of the dead, primarily women, perform ritual dances. Ritual dances are such dances as gilem  — “carpet”, boft  — “weaving”, and oshpaz  — “cook”.
- Male dances. Warlike and courageous dances are based on strong movements, sharp turns, and sculptural poses. Shamsherbozi  dance with cavalry swords, kordbozi  dance with knives, otashbozi  dance with fire. This still exists in mountainous regions of the Pamirs.
- Male and female dances accompanied by a musical instrument. These are raqs bo dutor  (“dance with dutor”), raqs bo doira  (“dance with tambourine”), raqs bo gijjak  (“dance with gijjak”); and dances with other things (jug, spoon, platter, axe, and so on).
- Theatrical choreographic miniatures such as Aspakbozi  — dance with a little horse, Ushtur ba kator  — dance of a camel caravan, and kishtibozi  — dance with a boat. These groups of traditional dances are organically combined with pantomime, illustrating gestures and movements, elements of dramatic performance and circus art. Tajik traditional dance is organically connected to entertainment performances (maskharabozes, rope walkers, and, puppeteers, etc.). In national musical dramas (mugulbozi — Mongolian woman, bobopirak — old man and others) traditional dances are used.
Tajik traditional dance is divided into Pamir, mountainous, Bukhara, southern (Hatlon group of regions), Gissar valley, and northern Tajikistan styles. Every style has special costumes, movements, manners, and corresponds to a temperament of population of these regions.
Many dances were adapted for stage as folklore works in the 20th century. Dancing ensembles “Lola”, “Zebo”, “Jakhonoro”, the ethnographical ensemble “Falak” and others were created to promote traditional dances of Tajiks.
The afsona  tale is one of the most ancient genres of Tajik national dance. The tale reflects events of day-to-day life.
The chiston  riddle is one of the most complicated genres in Tajik national art. It also has ancient roots and has deep social and philosophical contents. Riddles were even used in diplomacy. Riddles lost their importance in the Middle Ages and became a part of children’s folklore.
The zarbumasal  saying. This genre is the most widespread in Tajik national art. The other component of this genre is maqol , a proverb. For this genre laconism, depth of thought and imagery are typical. Ancient sayings already existed in the times of Alexander. An important part in the basis of this genre belonged to humanism.
Badeha  joking duet. This genre has ancient roots and a special place in Tajik national arts. Two actors, one woman and one man, performed it in those ancient times when the rights of women were not suppressed. In the Islamic period, men had to perform both roles. The motives used in badeha are mainly love, inspiration, pride, human beauty, and feelings.
Activity of national poets occupies a special place in modern Tajik national creativity. Thanks to the works of national poets — hafizes , Tajik national creativity was enriched with their themes and developed artistically. The national hafiz poets Saidalil Valizoda, Davlatposho Pomiri, Hikmat Rizo, Yusuf Vafo, Abdujabbor Kayum, Bobo Yunus, Said Holzoda, Kurboanal Rajab and other individuals are famous for their creativity.
At present the republican TV folk art contest and festival Nightingale has been inaugurated as a festival for the encouragement of traditional art.
Customs and rituals of Tajiks
The Tajik customs and rituals have ancient sources and are an integral part of their life. A special rank among them is held by wedding rituals, in which the main place is given to the magic to induce fertility, the cult of ancestors, and demons for children.
The wedding rituals begin with matchmaking. Very often mothers pledge in marriage their little children and even newly born infants. There were two kinds of such matchmaking, namely: govorabakhsh  (gakhvorabash) – “matchmaking in the cradle”, “gift in the cradle” and domanchok – “matchmaking of very young” (shirt tearing).
At such matchmaking as domanchok , mothers of the boy and the girl place on the floor a flat cookie while praying. They put the children near one another and having connected the hems of their shirts, tear them.
The elder girls and boys were married at their choice, with observance of rituals connected with matchmaking and the marriage deal. This was in the competence of a professional matchmaker (zavchi), mother or relatives of the groom. They had preliminary talks with the parents of the groom and the bride; after that the matchmakers were sent for, and arrangements were made.
About ten days or a month after the matchmaking, the young man was told to whom he was engaged, and by the dusk his mother went to the house of the bride with a big dish of pilaw , covered by newly-baked flat cookies. She was treated with tea and pilaw, and the relatives, neighbours, old men, and respected persons of the village were invited. The guests were informed about the engagement of the girl. Before the meal, an old and respectable man broke the flat cookies into lumps, and read a prayer asking for happiness of the groom and the bride. All rituals were accompanied by praying. This ritual was considered an official engagement and was called fotiha  (“opening”, “beginning”) or nonshkanon  — “braking of bread”. In some places the engagement was arranged with small differences.
Handing of bride-money to the parents of the bride The wedding usually was set for the autumn, after the harvest. A number of rituals preceding the wedding were connected with the handing of the bride-money in the house of bride.
A day before the fixed day for handing the bride-money to the father of the bride, in the evening before Sunday, Monday or Thursday, takhta pas kunon  (lowering of wooden board for making dough) was arranged in the house of the groom. Flat cookies (lochira) were baked, the old women cut material for wedding clothes, and other women sewed them. The next day the amount of bride-money was finally agreed with her father in the house of the groom. This very evening in the house of the bride takhta pas kunon ceremony was performed. In the course of it, after entertainment and the praying for happiness of both, the other girls were commanded to make dough for flat cookies for the planned wedding party, and gifts presented by the groom were examined. One of the old women cut a shirt from the cloth sent by the groom with a prayer, and the young women immediately started sewing. In several days, usually on Thursday, latta buron was arranged in the house of the bride (rite of dress-making from the cloth sent by the groom).
On the day of the wedding – nikoh , in the morning people began preparing pilaw for which they invited their home-villagers. First, they fed men, then women who came with their children. The bride and groom from early morning were preparing for the wedding ceremony. Towards evening the parents sent somebody for the priest who was invited to conclude the wedding treaty. There were rooms prepared for the groom, bride, and for the priest. From the house of the bride girls were sent to invite neighbour women. Every invited woman gave a cup of flour to the girl who called her, wishing that the wedding be a happy one.
After the meal and prayer for happiness of the newly married, a curtain was hung up in the corner against the entrance door for the bride to sit behind. The bride was dressed and brushed with a pray, then she was asked to sit with her girlfriends behind the curtain, and other woman were dancing before the curtain. Deputies went to the female territory to receive the consent of the bride, then they informed the mullah about it and he began the act of marriage a’qdi nikoh .
Upon termination of the marriage act the groom received congratulations, and friends guided him to the bride by lighting his way with fire torches. In front of the door of the room with the bride, the groom had to jumping over a fire of linen straw, as though being cleaned by fire. The groom entered into the house stepping on the fabric spread on the floor and stopped at a curtain, behind which there was a bride. When the groom left, the bride was dressed in paranj , and she was guided out of the curtain to the exit. The father was called to say goodbye to his daughter. After leave-taking with the relatives the bride was taken to the house of the groom. On the way near the house of the groom, people made fires, and the wedding train passed by them. In the courtyard of the groom’s house a large fire was made, and the bride jumped over it when she was guided to the house.
By the doors of the house she stopped and the father-in-law cut a kid goat at her feet. The bride entered into the house stepping on the just shed blood of the oblation animal and further walked on the poiandoz  spread (fabric), the ends of which were held by two old women. The bride was met by the mother of the groom who made a low bow. The bride was shown into the house and set down behind a curtain. Women with children who gathered in the house of the newly married were treated to pilaw.
The wedding ritual, involving the taking of the newly married girl to the house of the groom, was made at night — an event typical for northern Tajikistan (territory of ancient Soghd), whereas in southern Tajikistan (the territory of ancient Tokharistan) all this was arranged only in the daytime.
Post-nuptial rituals On the third day after the wedding the newly married groom visited the parents of the bride. This visit was called domod salom  — “bowing of the son-in-law”. Fifteen days after the wedding, there was another ritual “acquaintance” of the relatives with the bride — this time showing her face. The ritual was called rubinon , rugushod , rugushoi dukhtar . It was arranged in the evening the day before Thursday or Sunday. Twenty days after the wedding, in the evening before Thursday, Friday or Monday, the young couple visited the house of the bride’s parents. The visit was called hona tablon  — “invitation to the home”.
Besides religious traditions, the family and the public ceremonialism included a number of customs, without which it was impossible to carry out social life. In this area also there were many ancient events which have a new found significance today.
Notwithstanding, this group of customs is not connected with religious ideology, as it was an integral part of a ceremonial complex recognized as a single unit and in such a form introduced by the Moslem religion and affirmed by public opinion.
It is necessary to note that there are still a number of rituals and customs connected with the economic activities of man which are characterized by a combination of vestiges of ancient beliefs. Among them; Nowruz holiday dedicated to the beginning of farm operations (New Year’s feast), to the master of agriculture — Boboi Dehqon  (“Grandfather-farmer”) and the harvest feast devoted to the cult of heavenly bodies and their influence on activities and lives of people. Vestiges of cults of water and fire were maintained.
At present many rituals are observed as national traditions, but mostly in the countryside.