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Photo taken by Karolina Kluczewska: In the course of my research on Soviet-era art in Tajikistan, I had a chance to meet several fascinating artists. Undoubtedly, Murivat Beknazarov was one of the most charismatic. Born in 1943 in Vanj in the Pamiri mountains, he grew up in an orphanage in Khorog, where his talent was noticed. Thanks to state scholarships, he completed his education in the best art schools in Dushanbe and Tallinn. One day in March 2019, I accompanied Beknazarov to view kindergarten mosaics that he worked on in the mid-1970s, located in the 191 mikrorayon of Dushanbe. Soviet policy-makers in Moscow saw mosaics as a means to glorify the Soviet nation, working class, and human labor, as well as a way to promote solidarity, women’s empowerment, and secularism. While Tajik artists shared some of these ideas, they contested others, or rather, re-appropriated them in accordance with local culture. Beknazarov’s artworks reveal such a coexistence of ideas. They feature athletic girls and boys in tight tracksuits, playing hand-in-hand and developing physical strength, an official discourse promoting health and equality. But he also designed children’s faces in a way which recalls old Persian folk stories, hinting at the Persianate culture of Tajikistan.