Though her father, cantor of the local Bukharan Jewish synagogue, died when she was six years old, she credits him with her earliest and deepest musical influence.
She began singing as a child and started vocal studies when she was 14, performing as a teenager in school choirs and at festivals in Dushanbe, the capital. Because of the widespread discrimination against Jews under Stalin, she took the name Kuinova to hide her true identity.
A keyway point along the Silk Route, Bukhara thrived for generations on cross-cultural trade between East and West, eventually growing into one of the most important commercial and intellectual centers of the Persian world.
Fatima Kuinova was born on December 28, 1920, in Samarkand, Tajikistan, in Soviet Central Asia, one of 10 children.
She grew up speaking Russian, but her cultural life was rooted in Bukharan Jewish traditions.
There, she soon became a well-established member of the Bukharan Jewish musical community.
Kuinova first worked in a trio or quartet in which her vocal line was accompanied by two or more , a plucked-string instrument of the region — and this ensemble has become a focal point of the growing Bukharan Jewish community centered in Queens and Brooklyn.
, and billowing turquoise domes, has a unified and authentic feel, and is often said to paint the most complete picture of life along the Silk Road before the turn of the century.
Add in dozens of authentic caravanserais and teahouses, some of the best artisans and craft workshops in the country, and Uzbekistan’s unique brand of hospitality, and Bukhara’s great history and cultural significance truly comes alive.
Kuinova's repertoire reflects the multifaceted role that Bukharan Jewish singers fill in Central Asia, playing music for a wide range of functions.
They were among the most distinguished musicians in the courts of the Muslim emirs and khans who ruled the region prior to its incorporation into the Soviet Union.
This is an ideal time to capture beautiful photographs of Bukhara’s brilliant architecture, as the morning sunlight makes the mud bricks and gorgeous tilework pop against the blue sky.
It also offers a great opportunity to walk among the centuries-old quarters of the city before most of the tourist groups arrive, allowing you to capture the real life of Bukhara, and perhaps discover some fantastic hidden corners of your own. Cyclists will then transport these morning goods in huge boxes attached to the back of their bicycles, carrying the scent of fresh-baked bread as they pedal through the narrow, zigzagging streets of Bukhara.
They also provided music for a variety of ceremonial and ritual occasions in the Jewish community and for the majority Moslem population.