The Gurminj Museum of Musical Instruments, in Dushanbe, Tajikistan is preserving and revitalising the musical heritage of Central Asian peoples and cultures, and, in particular, the Pamiri Ismaili musical culture of Tajikistan.
Country of Origin: Tajikistan
Domain of expertise: Preservation, Revitalisation and Dissemination
AKMA Cycle Year: Cycle 2019
The Gurminj Museum of Musical Instruments was established in 1990 by renowned Tajik actor and musician Gurminj Zavkibekov (1929-2003) to showcase an extensive private collection of musical instruments from his native Badakhshan, which comprises the Pamir Mountain region of eastern Tajikistan and northeast Afghanistan. Zavkib
The Gurminj Museum of Musical Instruments was established in 1990 by renowned Tajik actor and musician Gurminj Zavkibekov (1929-2003) to showcase an extensive private collection of musical instruments from his native Badakhshan, which comprises the Pamir Mountain region of eastern Tajikistan and northeast Afghanistan. Zavkibekov envisioned the museum as a living home for music, a place where his Pamiri lutes, drums, flutes, and other instruments from across Central and West Asia would be played.
Today, Zavkibekov’s hospitable spirit and commitment to sustaining traditional music endures through the leadership of his son Iqbol, an award-winning composer and esteemed master of the Pamiri setor. After nearly three decades, the Gurminj Museum stands as one of Tajikistan’s most vibrant and innovative nodes of contemporary musical life. The musem’s modest campus includes exhibition rooms, a performance venue, library-archive, musical instrument workshop, and recording studio, which together facilitate a wide range of opportunities for cultural encounter and exchange. On-site musicians provide personalised tours, live performances of traditional Pamiri music, and private music instruction for local and international students and scholars. Journalists, filmmakers, and government and NGO officers visit regularly alongside tourists, schoolchildren, and members of the Pamiri diaspora living in Dushanbe. And Iqbol Zavkibekov, who believes that the future of traditional music depends on a mutually nourishing relationship with new music creation, encourages young musicians to draw inspiration from the instruments on the museum’s walls – to pick them up, try them out, learn their history, and find new ways of bringing them to life.
The Gurminj Museum remains largely volunteer-run, with programmes occasionally funded by international donors. With the support of these organisations, the Gurminj Museum has helped to raise the international profile of Tajikistan’s rich musical heritage, and especially that of the Ismailis of the Pamir Mountains.