Stories of Uzbek pigeons of ancient Kokand and Bukhara

The article is written by Pavlo Chaika, the chief editor of the "Piznavayka" magazine. Since its founding in 2013, Pavlo Chaika has been dedicated to popularizing science in the world. The main goal, both of the magazine and of this article, is to explain complex scientific topics in a simple and accessible language.

Author of the publication: Alisher Nishanov.


By nature, wild pigeons appeared on earth millions of years ago. According to fossil finds, the formation of the species occurred 40-50 million years ago, at the end of the Eocene – beginning of the Oligocene. Their ancestors are considered to be the wild rock pigeon (Columba livia).

Our story will be about a unique breed of birds, about the Uzbek race of pigeons, which were born thanks to the hard work of breeders and pigeon breeders in Uzbekistan through crossbreeding of several species of this bird.

Speaking about Uzbek pigeons, it is worth noting the fact that only a few wealthy pigeon breeders had and still have unique breeds.

The most famous (in historical terms) name among pigeon breeders of Uzbekistan – from past eras: Said – Muhammad – Khudayarkhan ibn Shermuhammad – Alikhan (Khudayarkhan for short).

Khudayarkhan ibn Shermuhammad

Said – Muhammad – Khudayarkhan ibn Shermuhammad – Alikhan (Khudayarkhan for short) 1835-1886, the eleventh ruler of the Kokand Khanate from the Uzbek Ming dynasty.

As a teenager (at the age of 11), in 1846, he and his parents moved from Talas (a city in Kyrgyzstan) to the Fergana Valley – to the city of Kokand (Uzbekistan). Considered a child – from a wealthy family – a noble family, in Kokand, he became interested in pigeons. By his young age, he was already well versed in pigeon breeding and knew about all the existing breeds in Central and Central Asia. By adulthood, he had one of the most numerous dovecotes in Central Asia: – 12,000 beaks, – which included pigeons of quite a few pigeon breeds known by that time. Disagreeing with the policy of Russian imperialism in Central Asia, he left his homeland in 1877 and wandered around the cities of Arabia, India, and Persia for 5 long years. He died in 1882 at the age of 51, in the small town of Karrukh – near Herat (Afghanistan). After him, in Kokand, a great legacy remained – his numerous dovecote, of the very bright pigeon breeds known in Uzbekistan and beyond: – “Chins”, “Chovkars”, “Shoyi”, “Kukchi”, etc.

Source: Material from the fund of the Kokand Museum “About the pigeons of Kokand”, selected by a researcher at the Kokand Museum – Dadabaev Y., 1990.

бухарські голуби

Fighting Kokand chovkars of Usmanov Jamolkhan, Kokand, Uzbekistan

The history of the pigeons of the Emir of Bukhara

Said Mir Muhammad

Said Mir Muhammad Olimkhon, January 3, 1880 – April 28, 1944, was the last emir of the Uzbek Mangit dynasty, rulers of the Bukhara Emirate in Central Asia. Although Bukhara had been a protectorate of the Russian Empire since 1873, the emir presided over the internal affairs of his emirate as an absolute monarch and ruled from January 3, 1911 to August 30, 1920.

Each people living in Central Asia has its own history of breeding domestic pigeons. Until the beginning of the twentieth century, Central Asia was divided into three different khanates, so the history of the formation of pigeon breeding in the new socialist republics is also different. For some peoples it was calculated in centuries, for others in years. Some nationalities lived a sedentary life in cities and villages, and some wandered from place to place. Each person, if possible and capable, was engaged in arable farming or poultry farming, and raised small and large cattle in the steppes. Some obtained meat by hunting various wild animals. Those who lived in the cities were engaged in crafts in the manufacture of various products, etc., and in their free time – for the soul – they were engaged in keeping and training fighting rams, roosters, quails and, of course, raising domestic pigeons.

I, in turn, would like to clarify this ridiculous dispute about the existence of “Central Asian” game pigeons and “Old-breed” non-existent breeds of pigeons. For many pigeon breeders in the CIS and abroad, to the best of my ability, I would like to provide detailed information about the history and interpretation of the names of the colors of the Uzbek pigeon races, in particular, I will focus on the Bukhara race of pigeons. The history of pigeon breeding in Bukhara has very deep roots! Many names of the colors of fighting pigeons bred in Central Asia are borrowed from the names of Bukhara flight and decorative races of pigeons.

Well-known historical sources record facts of traders and merchants bringing various breeds of domestic pigeons to Bukhara for the dovecote of the Emir of Bukhara. Pigeons were transported as gifts along the Great Silk Road, which ran from Europe, North Africa, Asia, all the way to China and India. But, unfortunately, in those sources there is no specific information on the description of the exterior of the imported breeds of pigeons, their colors and colors. There are only scant and fragmentary descriptions of their external and flight performance characteristics. It is reliably known that fighting breeds were imported from Persia (Iran), and high-flying and ostentatious decorative pigeons of a breed called “Ranga” by the pigeon breeders of Bukhara were imported from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Therefore, we can conclude that the history of pigeon breeding in present-day Uzbekistan was formed on the basis of oral and fragmentary information from local pigeon breeders living in such regional centers as Bukhara, Samarkand, Tashkent, Kokand, Namangan, Andijan, Fergana, Margilan and many other small towns, villages and settlements in rural areas.

Considering the fact that at the beginning of the twentieth century, the territory of Uzbekistan included the lands of the Khiva and Kokand Khanates, as well as the Bukhara Emirate, where, in addition to ethnic Uzbeks, people of other nationalities lived, such as Tajiks, Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, etc., postal and business correspondence between government agencies and cities in those years was carried out in Farsi. At the same time, communication between city residents was in both Tajik and Uzbek. It is quite natural that pigeon breeders of Bukhara, Samarkand and adjacent villages, the majority of whose inhabitants were Tajiks, gave names to their domestic breeds of pigeons in the Tajik language, and pigeon breeders of cities and villages of the Tashkent region and the Fergana Valley, where the population speaking the Uzbek language predominated, gave names of colors and breeds of pigeons in Uzbek.

Thanks to the efforts of talented pigeon breeders of Bukhara, most of the local aboriginal races of pigeons over the past centuries-old period were able not only to survive, but also to improve their appearance, and also preserved the names of their colors without changes to our time.


As an example, let us take as a basis the description of the names of the colors of the Bukhara decorative “Ranga” and fighting races of pigeons. The “Ranga” race of decorative pigeons includes pigeons with different color variations:

  1. savz;
  2. zok moh dum;
  3. kuyi savz, udi savz;
  4. kal kuyi savz, kal udi savz;
  5. zirok;
  6. shushtani;
  7. bojings;
  8. callok.
    9. Savz.

The main color of the Savz pigeon is blue. It has symmetrical markings on the wing coverts. There are pigeons with the colors kalamfur(i) (Taj.) or kalampir (Uzbek), which means red pepper, i.e. pepper. Nimrang (Taj.) – a dove of pale (faded) blue or red color. Nahut(i) (Taj.) or Nukhat (Uzbek) – the color of ripe peas (yellow), nahuti kalamfuri – pea color with a pepper tint or nahuti kabud – pea color with a blue tint. Dove color Naboti or Novvot (Uzbek) – means crystalline sugar of yellow color, or its second name is varna (Taj. – Indian), which means colored. And finally, the color of surma (gi) (Taj. – Uzbek) is a dark brown pigeon with black specks on the wing shields. Antimony (black paint for lining the eyes). Antimony is made from soot produced by burning cattle bone marrow or almond kernels.

The name of the Savz breed comes from the word sabz(a), which is found in both the Tajik and Uzbek languages.

The Tajik – Uzbek word “sabza” has a double interpretation – green (salad) color and a yellow-green variety of dried grapes, raisin:

A search for a similar name for pigeons of the Savz color on the Internet site “Archive of Pigeon Breeders of the World” showed that in the album “Indian Fighting Pigeons” (author Petr Gerun. in the section “Fighting Pigeons” a description of the colors of pigeons is given “Sabza” and “Sabza – Tyrevall”. The Indian pigeon called “Sabza” has a solid gray coloration, with two black stripes on the wing scutes. There is another color of the Indian breed “Lalchiyni”, similar in color and pattern to the Bukhara fighting pigeon color – Chakir Marzhoni. Indian pigeon breeders gave double names to two-colored pigeons, adding the word “tirewall” to the main color, which means two-colored. So, for example, the term “Sabza – tirewall” means a dove of a gray color with white flight feathers of the first order. Modern young pigeon breeders of Bukhara use the additional words “kabud” (blue) in the name of a pigeon of the “Sabz” color, which as a result means “blue-blue”. Thus, the original name is duplicated, and therefore we can conclude that there is no need for the prefix of the word “kabud” in the name of the pigeon of the Savz color.

  1. “Zok moh dum.”

The name of the pigeon color “Zok moh dum” consists of three words. Let’s look at the meaning of each word separately. The word “Zok” means the black or brown color of the bird. Perhaps it would be more correct to call a black pigeon “siyo” in Tajik, and “kora” in Uzbek. However, the ancient pigeon breeders of Bukhara solved this problem in an original way, with invention, and called the black pigeon the name “zok” or “zokcha”, which means black jackdaw – a bird from the order of crows. Due to the lack of this information, Tashkent pigeon breeders called black pigeons “bugs” by analogy with black insects. The second word “Mokh” (mohi shab, Taj.) means the moon or a bright moonlit night, and finally, the third word “Dum” (Taj. Uzbek) means tail. Thus, the color of the pigeon “Zok Moh Dum” literally translates as “black white-tailed pigeon”.

Let us now consider the interpretation of the names of the colored pigeons “Zok Moh Dum” – Malla, Amiri and Zhurgoti.

– Malla (Taj. Uzbek) – means “red” (the color of the pigeon is from red to red).

– Amir(s) (Taj. Uzbek) – emir; emir; (the name is given in honor of the Emir of Bukhara; the solid color of the pigeon is from brown to chestnut; there are pigeons with dark belts in harmony with the main color. Depending on the main color, they are called Malla or Amiri.

In one of the varieties of pigeon colors, “Zok moh dum,” the pigeons have white spots on their heads. In this case, the full name of pigeons with this color in the local language will sound like “Zok Mokh Dum sar safe”, which means black, white-headed, white-tailed pigeon, where the word “Sar” means head in Tajik. Similarly, a pigeon of the color “Malla sar safed” means a white-headed red pigeon, and “Amiri sar safed” is a chestnut white-headed pigeon. Sometimes among the colors of pigeons Zok Moh Dum, Mala and Amiri, birds with white feathers on the body are bred. This coloring usually appears when pairing two colored white-headed pigeons. Such pigeons are called Zhurgoti Zok mokh dum, Malla Zhurgoti, Amiri Zhurgoti (Taj.), which literally means a brown or red pigeon, with white spots like curdled milk on the body.

  1. “Kuyi Savz.”

Among the decorative pigeons “Ranga” there are shaggy pigeons of blue color called “Kuyi”. The name “Kuyi” (kukh, kaftari, kuhi – Taj.) – mountain (mountain, mountain dove). At the same time, to distinguish the “fighting” pigeons of the Kuya color from the “ostentatious” decorative pigeons “Ranga”, the prefix Savz (Sabza – blue color) was added to the main name of the decorative pigeons.

Kuyi Savz is a mountain blue pigeon.

  1. “Udi” (Taj.)

Udi is a pigeon with a color similar to the color of an aloe tree; dark. The source material for creating the Udi color is the Kuya Savz pigeon. For this reason, pigeons with this color are called “Udi Savz” by local pigeon breeders, where the prefix “Savz” means the original color of the ancestors of this bird.

  1. “Kal Kuyi Savz.”

The colors of the pigeons Kal Udi Savz in appearance and colors are similar to the pigeons of the color Kuya Savz and Udi Savz. The word “kal” (Uzbek) means bald, the prefix at the beginning of the name of pigeons of the color “Kal Kuyi Savz” and “Kal Udi Savz” means that these pigeons are smooth-headed, in contrast to the forelocked ostentatious decorative pigeons “Kuyi” and “Udi Savz” . Currently, pigeons of the Kal Kuyi Savz and Kal Udi Savz breeds are forelocked, with short feathers on their toes. In such cases, the breed is determined by eye color.

It should be noted that pigeons of the colors Savz, Zok moh dum, Kuyi Savz, Udi Savz, Kal Kuyi Savz, Kal Udi Savz often have pure white tails or two colored feathers at the edges. For completely white-tailed pigeons, the prefix Sof (white) doom is added to the end of the name of the main color. For white-tailed pigeons with one or two colored feathers at the edges of the tail, the prefix Chol Dum is added at the end of the name of the main color, which means a tail similar to a fork.

  1. “Zirok”.

The color of Zirok pigeons comes in two varieties – Zirok Kabud and Zirok Sobuni.

The name of the color of the pigeon “Zirok” comes from the word Zirak (Taj.), Ziirak (Uzb.) – which means quick-witted, clever, quick-witted, cunning. Therefore, the translation of the name of the pigeons “Zirok Kabud” means a quick-witted, intelligent, quick-witted, cunning rock pigeon. The word Sobun (i) (Taj.), Sovun (Uzbek) mean soap, or rather, in meaning, the color of laundry soap. Thus, a pigeon of the Zirok Sobuni color means a quick-witted, intelligent, quick-witted, cunning pigeon of a soapy color.

  1. “Shushtani”

The name of the color of these pigeons comes from the addition of two Tajik words “Shusha” meaning glass, crystal, and “Tan” meaning body, torso, waist, body. Thus, the color of Shushtani pigeons means the pigeon’s body is shiny like glass.

  1. “Bojings”

The origin of the name Bojingi, a decorative long-toothed pigeon of “rank”, by Bukhara pigeon breeders is explained by the fact that it is derived from two words – “bo” and “ozhangi” (Taj).

The preposition “bo” is used to express compatibility, involvement or concomitance, ozhang – wrinkle, fold (Taj.), azhin (Uzbek) – wrinkle, fold “ozhangdor” – wrinkled; peshonai ozhangdor – wrinkled forehead. In the Uzbek language, the word “boshi” means head. In the word “ozhangdor” the ending “dor” is replaced with “i”. With such a change in the ending, the meaning of the word does not change. In this regard, the word Bo ozhang(dor) is transformed into Bo ozhang(i). In everyday life, when pronouncing the word Bo ozhang(i), instead of two letters “o”, one is pronounced. Thus, over the past centuries, over time, the name of the breed from Bo Ozhangi turned into “Bozhingi”. The final interpretation of the name Bojinga means the head of a dove with a wrinkled forehead (nosal).

Bojings were used in breeding work to artificially create a new Uzbek two-forehead slaughter breed.

(See my article: “On the ancient Bukhara breeds of pigeons and their role in the breeding of modern Uzbek two-fingered flying races”, P.F.R. magazine “Pigeon Breeding” No. 9 (81) for 2010; book “Bukhara Citadel of Pigeon Breeding” , author U.A. Obidov, published 2012)

At this time, this breed, like a flying pigeon (decorative “ranka”), disappeared and it, gradually transforming, turned into an Uzbek flying game bird. Currently, the name Bojingi, by inheritance, as a customary one, can be used for all Uzbek pigeons of various colors, which have a decoration (forelock) in the form of various folds of feathers on the head in the forehead area.

  1. “Kalloc”.

Initially, this breed of pigeon was called Kallak (Uzb.) (Kallakdor, Kallador) – head, big-headed, big-headed. Local pigeon breeders gave this name to the homing pigeon “dragon” for its large head. This breed was brought to all cities of Central Asia by order of Emir Timur to deliver information about the state of affairs in his domains. The name of the pigeon of the breed “Kallak”, over time, was transformed into “Kallok”; moreover, the color of the pigeon was not of fundamental importance. Let us now consider the origin and interpretation of the colors of the Bukhara fighting race of pigeons. The race of Bukhara fighting pigeons includes birds of colored, motley and belted colors.

The group of colored pigeons includes pigeons of the following colors: Zok, Ruyani, Naboti, Zhigari and Safed.

– Zok is a pigeon from tar to black-brown color. The interpretation of the origin of the name is similar to the decorative dove Zok mokh dum.

– Ruyan(i) (Uzb.); Ruyany (Taj.); (Ruyan ranks) – stain-colored color (madder color).

– Nabot(s); naboti rank (Taj.), Novvot (Uzbek) – navat; lollipop, dove color light beige or crystal sugar.

– Jigar(s); (jigar rang) (Taj. Uzbek) – liver color, pigeon from light brown to dark brown color.

– Safed (Taj.) – a completely white pigeon with dark eyes.

The variegated group includes white and colored pigeons that have markings of a different color on any part of the body: Chakir, Chinny, Tavki, Alo, Kukrak surkh, Zok sar safed, Zok moshi, Kabud gul sar, Sherozi, etc.

– Chakir (in Old Turkic) – white, gray-eyed, the name of the pigeon is based on the color of the eyes.

– Cakir (in Turkish) is a white, sparkling-eyed dove.

– Chakir (in Persian) is a warrior.

– Chakir; (chakir kuz – Uzbek) – white prickly-eyed pigeon.

Depending on the main color of the plumage, this group of pigeons has double names: Chakir Safed, Chakir Sar Davdi, Chakir Marjoni, Chakir Sar Surkh, Chakir Nul Siyo, Chakir Sar Siyo, Chakir Shokh Par Siyo. For example, a dove of the color Chakir Sar Surkh means a white dove with a red speckled head, Chakir Marjoni is a white gray-eyed dove with a colored chin, etc.

– Sar (Taj.) – head

– Davdi; sar davdi (Taj.) – specks; speckled head (colored).

– Marzhon(i) (Uzb.) – coral, corals; beads, beads (colored chin).

– Surkh; (sar surkh) (Taj.) – red; (red-headed).

– Siyo; (sar siyo) (Taj.) – black; (black-headed).

– Nul (Taj. Uzbek); (zero siyo) – beak; (black-billed).

– Shokh (Taj.) – chief.

– Steam (Taj. Uzbek); (shoh par siyo) – feather; (the main flight feathers of the wings are black).

– Chinni

  1. chinni nozbuy (Taj.) flower, raikhon (Uzb.);
  2. chinnigul (Uzb.) – a) basil; b) garden carnation.

– Tavki (Taj. Uzbek) – necklace, ring, rim; hryvnia pigeon color.

– Alo (Taj.), Ola (Uzb.) – motley, spotted, pockmarked.

– Kukrak (Taj. Uzbek); (kukrak surkh) – chest, (red-breasted).

– Zok sar safed (Taj.) – black, white-headed.

– Mosh (Taj. Uzbek) – refers to the dark green color of the grains of a local variety of beans.

– Zok moshi – black, pockmarked (with white feathers scattered across the body).

– Kabud gul sar (Taj.) – blue with a colored head, which corresponds to the Uzbek pigeon of the “gulsar” color (standards of Tashkent pigeon breeders).

– Sherozi – the color of the pigeon is red or yellow with white feathers on the chest. The name of the breed is taken from the Shiraz tumbler Shirazi (sherazi). The place of origin is presumably the city of Shiraz (Sheroz) in Southern Iran.

And finally, the group of belted ones includes pigeons of the following colors: Kuyi, Kuy-Nakshin, Kishmishi, Udi, Udi – Ziragi, Nilla, Gura, Naini, Kosoni, Kosoni – Ziragi, Kosoni lead, Udi – kosoni.

– Kuyi (kukh, kaftari kuhi) (Taj.) – mountain, mountain pigeon.

– Naksh (Taj. Uzbek); (nakshin) – with a pattern or pattern on the wing.

– Udi (Taj.) – the color of aloe wood, dark.

– Zira (gi) (Taj. Uzbek) – cumin. Pigeons of the Udi Ziraga color have specks on the wing stitches the size of a grain of cumin (cumin).
– Nil (a) (Taj. Uzbek); (nilgun) – indigo; Blue colour; (blue). I would like to note an interesting fact that among domestic pigeons in India there are names similar to the word “Nila” such as: Neelaay Siaah, Neelaay Siaah Rangin. The name Neelaay Siaah means black belted pigeon. Neelaay Siaah Rangin is a solid black pigeon. The colors of Indian pigeons similar to the name Nile indicate that pigeons of this color were brought to India from Bukhara or Samarkand, and Indian pigeon breeders left them with the original historical name.
– Kishmish(s) – raisins; sultanas; dove of Nile color with a scaly pattern on the wing shields (the color of sultanas) with a purple tint.

– Gura (abbreviated from the word Gurafkan – Persian) – strong, mighty, powerful.

– Nye; (Taj. Uzbek); nayni – reed, the name of a flute made from reeds, here referring to the yellow color of dry reed.

Coson(s). There are two interpretations regarding the name of this pigeon color.

  1. In the Fergana Valley there flows a river called Kosonsoy (Uzbek kasansay). This word is formed from two components: koson and sai. The word koson (moviy, zangori – Uzbek) means blue, azure, blue color of water, and sai is a small mountain river, stream. Thus, the name “Koson” means the color of the pigeon is light blue.
  2. The name of the color is probably given in honor of the name of the area Kasan (Koson) located on the territory of the Kashkadarya region of the Republic of Uzbekistan, where the Udi pigeon was from, which participated in the breeding work to develop a new color of the Kosoni pigeon.

Among Indian slaughter pigeons there are Plain Kasni color pigeons. The word Kasni is similar to the word Kosoni. Although this bird is belted, however, the color of this pigeon is similar to the color of the Bukhara belted pigeon Udi. Perhaps pigeons of this color were brought to India from Bukhara or Samarkand, and Indian pigeon breeders left the original historical name for these pigeons.

– Kosoni ziragi – a pigeon of the “Kosoni” color, only the wing scutes are speckled with dark

feathers the size of a cumin seed.

– Kosoni lead – a pigeon of the “Kosoni” color has a solid color pattern lead

– Udi-Kosoni is a pale bluish pigeon. The ends of the flight feathers of the wings, the belts on the wing flaps and the border at the end of the tail are light beige

(a cross between pigeons of Kosoni and Udi colors).

In conclusion, we can conclude that in the centuries-old history of domestic pigeon breeding in Bukhara, the names of pigeon breeds, by color and plumage pattern, are associated with the names of places, the color of objects and natural phenomena. Even the Bukhara decorative “rank” and fighting breeds of pigeons, which have the same colors, were given different names by Bukhara pigeon breeders. (See the book “Bukhara Citadel of Pigeon Breeding”, U.A. Obidov, ed. 2012 in the material “Interpretation of the name of the Bukhara races of pigeons”).

  1. To translate the names of Bukhara pigeon breeds, the following were used: “Tajik-Russian Dictionary”, “Russian-Tajik Dictionary”, “Uzbek-Russian Dictionary”, “Russian-Uzbek Dictionary”.
  2. From the Internet: website “Archive of Pigeon Breeders of the World”, theme “Fighting Pigeons” – album “Indian Fighting Pigeons”

The collected materials on the origin of the names of the colors of the Bukhara pigeon races were sent for review to the Honored Worker of Education of Uzbekistan, Doctor of Philological Sciences, employee of the Bukhara Institute for Retraining and Advanced Training of Teaching Staff, Professor H.G. Nigmatov, from whom a highly rated review was received.

The materials were prepared by a pigeon breeder from Bukhara, Republic of Uzbekistan:

Uktam Amonovich Obidov

Author of the book “Pigeons of Ancient Bukhara”:

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