Uzbekistan is home to many cultures. The majority group is the Uzbek, forming seventy-one percent of the population, followed by Russians, Tajiks, Kazakhs, and other minority groups. The population of Uzbekistan is predominantly Muslim, though this was suppressed by the state during the Soviet era. The observance of Islam has gradually increased since 1991. Music is an important part of Uzbek culture. Shashmaqam is a form of classical music similar to classical Persian music. Folk music lives on in religious and family events such as weddings as well as special events. The applied art of Uzbekistan has a wide variety when it comes to style, materials and ornamentation. Silk, ceramics and cotton weaving, stone and wood carving, metal engraving, leather stamping, calligraphy and miniature painting are some genres passed down from ancient times. Embroidery, carpet weaving and miniature painting have also been revived in their traditional form as well as some modern variants. Today, Uzbek craftsmen still practice ancient jewellery making techniques for cutting gemstones, grain filigree, granular work, engraving and enamelling.
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