Tajikistan is still a developing nation, off the well-worn tourist trail. As such, it is a cheap place to shop for interesting and unusual items, particularly textiles and cotton. Tajik padded coats, best worn with a hat and sash, are uniquely traditional items that make comfortable and practical souvenirs. Tajikistan’s many colorful bazaar markets are the best places to pick up mementos or try local produce. Vodka is another local specialty, with Ruski Standard generally considered to be the best.
A unique and beautiful traditional handcraft is the suzane, an embroidered wall hanging. The most famous suzane come from the Ura-Tyube region, where common picture themes include blossoming gardens, pomegranates for fertility, knives for protection, a lamp for purification, or birds for luck.
Barakat Bazaar (north of Hotel Tajikistan, city center, Dushanbe) is a large and busy covered market that is a good place to pick up souvenirs, particularly textiles and embroidery. Common items include embroidered skullcaps, colorful dresses, and trousers decorated with sequins and gold stitching. Another well-known Dushanbe market is Shakhmansur Bazaar (downtown Dushanbe). It is the biggest city bazaar and a good place to try local produce such as nuts, dried and fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, spices, and bread.
Somewhat surprisingly, Tsum (Rudaki 83 City Center, Dushanbe) department store also sells interesting souvenir items, such as musical instruments, striped cloaks, Pamiri socks, figurines, and ikat silks, along with more usual basics and necessities such as batteries.
Bargaining is expected in the bazaars but not in places like department stores where the prices are fixed and clearly marked. Buy buy counterfeit designer goods and pirated media at your own risk.
Tajikistan has long-been noted for producing rubies and red spinel stones, some of which have been used in significant collections across the world, including the famous ‘Black Prince’s Ruby’ (actually a spinel), which adorns the Imperial State Crown of the British crown jewels. Without a special permit, the easiest way to purchase gems is through a legitimate jewelry store. Tourists should be aware that a hallmark is required to export or hold jewelry, metals, or unprocessed stones, and that these items must be declared upon departure.