Vendor at Orgut Market, UzbekistanTraveling in Central Asia, I was often greeted with golden smiles. Here, gold teeth, a common Central Asian ornamentation, have long been considered a symbol of wealth. This smiling vendor was just one of the friendly women flashing gold in Uzbekistan’s Orgut market.

In Tashkent’s Chorsu Bazaar, banking on gold

Tomatoes with a smile at the market in Tashkent
A shy smile from behind a mountain of luscious loaves of Uzbek bread
With a golden smile, she offered me an apricot.

In Turkmenistan, it’s another story

In 2004, Saparmurat Niyazov, Turkmenistan’s president for life banned gold teeth  in that country. “Turkmenbashi” as he was officially called also put the kibosh on beards, ballet and circuses.



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