Uzbekistan's answer to the selfie stick

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Take a modern device, attach it to an ancient farming implement and what do you have? Well in one central Asian country - a wry political comment.

In a nation with strong farming tradition, the everyday farming hoe is a national symbol. And for Uzbeks, the hoe - or "ketmon" - has recently taken on a new significance in light of the country's economic wobbles. Cotton is Uzbekistan's biggest export, but the economy also relies heavily on sales of gas and other natural resources. The price of gas has been sagging on world markets and Russia - Uzbekistan's main trading partner - has been hit hard by the impact of western sanctions imposed over the crisis in Ukraine.

All of that has led to the Uzbek currency dropping in value on the black market which in turn has driven up the price of imported goods. In response, some enterprising Uzbeks have been strapping their smartphones to ketmons - making the jokey point that foreign-made selfie sticks are unnecessary when there's a perfectly acceptable Uzbek alternative. Thousands have shared the pictures online. Several have suggested that large rubber bands more often used to hold together huge stacks of Uzbek notes could be refashioned to secure a phone in place on the ketmon.

It's not the only time recently that the ketmon has been adapted for a new use on social media. Before presidential elections earlier in the year pictures of the ketmon started appearing on WhatsApp and the Russian social network Odnoklassniki. They were mostly mocking Hotamjon Ketmonov, one of the politicians running a futile campaign to unseat Islam Karimov (the only leader in the country's history, Karimov won re-election in March with 90%). Ketmonov's name is similar to the farming tool and "ketmon" is also used to mock unsophisticated rural people - similar to the American word "redneck".

Image source, Facebook
Image caption,
Translation: "Uzbek-style selfie"

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