For millennia, waves of conquerors swept through the Central Asian steppe destroying older cultures and introducing new ones. The territory was a battleground for two great ancient civilizations: the settled Persians and the Turkic nomads. This fusion of Turkic and Persian cultures is the legacy of centuries of conflict and proximity between the peoples of Central Asia.

Sarts were settled inhabitants of Central Asian cities. They could be both Persian-speaking Tadjiks and Turkic-speaking Uzbeks. Nomads, bronzed by the brutal steppe sun, called their lighter-colored neighbors ‘yellow dogs’ (sari-it). This insult may be the origin of the word ‘sart’.