Monday, February 11, 2019

Buy Original Ikat Items by Dilyara Kaipova - Uzbekistan's Foremost, Modern Textile Designer

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Kaipova's "The Scream" on the loom in Margilan, Ferghana Valley Image: Dilyara Kaipova


For lovers of ikat textiles, this is a rare opportunity.

Dilyara Kaipova, whom I think is the most innovative artist working in Uzbekistan today, has made (on her *hand treadle* sewing machine) some wonderful cushion covers and scarves from her exhibition fabrics, exclusively for sale from Uzbek Journeys.

Supply is very limited as the pieces are made from the last lengths of her fabrics.

All pieces are handwoven from 100% organic, natural-dyed cotton grown in the Ferghana Valley, in eastern Uzbekistan. Working with masters in the ikat weaving centre of Margilan for over five months, Kaipova produced classical, hand-woven fabric infused with Mickey Mouse, The Scream, Alien, Batman, and, as Uzbekistan prepares to build a uranium power plant, her Anti-Nuke protest.

Kaipova has noted, with respect, that although those masters thought she was a little loopy, they worked enthusiastically with her, creating these magical works.

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Pale gold and black Mickey Mouse design - traditional Uzbek chapan (coat) Image: Dilyara Kaipova


Originally a puppet maker, award-winning Dilyara has had solo shows in Tashkent, Bishkek and Tbilisi. She is now collaborating with designers in Europe and Russia.

Her first textile project "Captain Ikat" explored how traditional arts - in this case ikat fabric - can absorb and be devalued by symbols and cliches of mass culture. Yet the paradox is that these same cliches can also invigorate and transform national traditions. The fabric, even when woven with designs of Mickey Mouse or Batman, magically still came alive.

There are several posts about her on this website:

The Fantasy World of Uzbek Textile Artist Dilyara Kaipova
Dilyara Kaipova Conquers Bishkek at the Asanbay Center
Dilyara Kaipova Strikes Again at the International Applied Arts Festival, Tashkent

The BBC (Uzbek language) has written about her and the Alliance Francaise, Tashkent, arranged a hugely successful show in 2018.  (An interview, in Russian, in which Dilyara discusses her work and philosophy is available on YouTube).

And now you have a chance to pick up a small masterpiece made from the last metres of her ikat fabric. Plus you would be supporting a rare and original artist.

Designs: (Large size images below)
  •    The Scream (Edward Munch)
  •    Mickey Mouse
  •    Alien
  •    Anti Nuke
Cushion covers are 35 cms x 35 cms/13.7 inches x 13.7 inches. Zipper closing, matched to main colour.

Price: US$30 each

Scarves are 148 cms long x 38 cms wide (58 inches x 15 inches).

Price: US$60 each 

How to buy: Please contact Uzbek Journeys and I will advise about payment and postage, based on your location. I am happy to send additional photos and answer any questions about these small masterpieces. The colours are fabulously vivid.

Please note that these pieces are in Australia.  I return to Tashkent mid-March, so best to order before I leave.

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Stunning ikat scarves from Dilyara Kaipova. Image: Dilyara Kaipova


dilyara kaipova handloomed ikat designs buy, uzbek ikat modern designs, art craft textile tours uzbekistan
Alien ikat cushion cover. Image: Dilyara Kaipova


Antinuke ikat cushion cover. Image Dilyara Kaipova

dilyara kaipova handloomed ikat designs buy, uzbek ikat modern designs, art craft textile tours uzbekistan
Antinuke ikat cushion cover. Image Dilyara Kaipova

dilyara kaipova handloomed ikat designs buy, uzbek ikat modern designs, art craft textile tours uzbekistan
Mickey Mouse ikat cushion cover. Image Dilyara Kaipova


The Scream ikat cushion cover. Image Dilyara Kaipova


dilyara kaipova handloomed ikat designs buy, uzbek ikat modern designs, art craft textile tours uzbekistan
Masters in Ferghana making the fabric prior to weaving. Image: Dilyara Kaipova

dilyara kaipova handloomed ikat designs buy, uzbek ikat modern designs, art craft textile tours uzbekistan
Dilyara Kaipova







Related posts:
The Fantasy World of Uzbek Textile Artist Dilyara Kaipova
Dilyara Kaipova Conquers Bishkek at the Asanbay Center
The Story of Uzbek Ikat Production: Step by Step 


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Kyrgyzstan: Have the Mountains Fallen? Two Journeys of Loss and Redemption in the Cold War

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As interest in Central Asia grows, more books are appearing in English about the region.

One of my summer break titles was Jeffrey B. Lilley's excellent book Have the Mountains Fallen? examining the lives of two Kyrgyz writers.

Azamat Altay fled to the West and was charged as a traitor in his homeland of Kyrgyzstan in Soviet Central Asia.

Chingiz Aitmatov became a hero of Kyrgyzstan, propelled by family loss to write novels about the everyday lives of his fellow citizens.

While both came from small villages in the beautiful mountainous countryside, they found themselves caught on opposite sides of the Cold War struggle between world superpowers.

Altay became the voice of democracy on Radio Liberty, broadcasting back into his shuttered homeland, while Aitmatov rose through the ranks of Soviet society, a quiet rebel whose prose masked ugly truths about Soviet communism.

Yet just as they seemed to be pulled apart by the divisions of the Cold War, they found their lives intersecting in compelling ways, joined by a common mission to save their people.

Have the Mountains Fallen? traces the lives of these two men as they confronted the full threat and legacy of the Soviet empire. Through narratives of loss, love, and longing for a homeland forever changed, a clearer picture emerges of the struggle for freedom inside the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Former Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva wrote: "It is impossible to understand today's Central Asia without knowing Kyrgyzstan, and impossible to understand Kyrgyzstan without reading this book. This is an insightful story of the terrible challenges that faced two courageous men and their dedication to preserving their nation, even 'when the mountains fall.' It is a thought-provoking book about the long journey of the Kyrgyz people to independence".

Here is an excellent interview with the author,  Jeffrey Lilley, on Voices on Central Asia's website. Order your copy through the major online bookstores.

Related posts:
Central Asia in Art: From Soviet Orientalism to the New Republics
Jamilia: A Kyrgyz Love Story by Chingiz Aitmatov
Holidays in Soviet Sanatoriums 
Kyrgyzstan: The Herzen Museum - Forgotten Art in a Forgotten Corner of Central Asia 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Kyrgyzstan Instagram Star Comes of Age and Flies the Nest

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Eldana Satybaldieva from her Instagram account
By the time she settled down in a cafĂ© in one of Almaty’s most popular malls, blue-haired Kyrgyz Internet sensation Eldana Satybaldieva was wincing in pain.

Satybaldieva, better known by her Instagram moniker Eldana Foureyes, had just been crushed in a long, unsolicited embrace initiated by an excited teenage fan. The admirer was euphoric after securing one of the most sought-after-selfies in a city that Satybaldieva recently adopted as her home.

Satybaldieva, an offline introvert, looked visibly shaken. But these are regular occurrences in Kazakhstan’s largest city. In her hometown Bishkek, "people kind of got used to me".

"There is more work here, more projects, just more everything," she told Eurasianet, explaining her move across the border.

In the age of distraction, Satybaldieva’s geeky, just-for fun videos have transformed her from an androgynous, uncool school-leaver into a highly marketable youth icon.

Despite having to start over when her Instagram account was hacked and wiped clean three years ago, she has now amassed close to a million followers on the platform, the bulk of them from Kazakhstan.

Pepsi, Nokia and a Kazakh electronics firm are among those that have tapped into her popularity in the five years since she began making the videos. Average fees for adverts range from $500 to $1,000, while the Pepsi ad brought her "enough to go out drinking for a year," she said in one recent interview with Kazakh media.

In the space of half an hour at the Dostyk Plaza, a Eurasianet correspondent watched Satybaldieva accept four selfie requests before making a flustered dash for the exit, laden with supermarket shopping.

"I don’t know. I am just an idiot. But people love idiots," Satybaldieva reasoned.

From "Stern Kyrgyz" to sexed-up Elya

While the vlogger uses "idiot" – in its Russian feminine form idiotka – repeatedly as a self-descriptor, many of the clips that have brought her fame are suffused with comic genius.

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Eldana Satybaldieva as "the stern Kyrgyz" from her Instagram account

Popular early shorts included the adventures of "the stern Kyrgyz" – Satybaldieva sporting a traditional Kyrgyz hat, the kalpak, and a powerful frown – and a hilarious visit to a hygiene-challenged public toilet.

Satybaldieva’s mother featured in several clips as a rule-imposing matriarch before the account began racking up thousands of subscribers and she ruled out future appearances. Since then, Eldana’s act has taken on new personas whose popularity threaten to eclipse the original geek next door.

"Ernest" (Eldana with a drawn-on mustache) is a smooth-talking loser whose skits are always accompanied by the opening riff from Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get it On.

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Eldana Satybaldieva's alter ego Ernest - from her Instagram account

"Elya" is sexed-up and scandalous in a satin gown, and the heroine of a music video released in August that was viewed over 800,000 times in three months.

"I want, want it all, and what I want I get," Satybaldieva sings in Tokalochka, a light-hearted take on the life of a tokal – the typically younger lover of a rich Central Asian man.

"Trips to Bali, new iPhone, my sugar daddy is a prosecutor," goes another verse. The irony of the lyric, which Satybaldieva says she did not write, is that the star’s own father, Elmurza Satybaldiev, served as Kyrgyzstan’s general prosecutor from 2007 to 2009.

Satybaldiev even served six years in jail on charges related to fatal state violence against protesters during the April 2010 revolution. He has continued to maintain his innocence since his release in 2016.

No politics, please, I'm Eldana

But if Tokalochka is part Freudian rebellion, Satybaldieva hides it well, and speaks of her parents in only the most glowing terms. She mostly worries her videos – expletive-laden as well as endearing – might bring them embarrassment. She recalls the time her father gently raised the topic of her online swearing at the dinner table as "among the worst days of my life".

Another source of discomfort for Satybaldieva is the notion that fame should bring with it new social responsibilities.

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Eldana Satybaldieva with her mother, from her Instagram account


Last year, she was widely criticized by feminists for appearing in a bride-kidnapping-themed advert for a Bishkek construction firm. Playing the victim of a crime that is rampant in Kyrgyzstan she initially resists the forced marriage. When she sees the kidnappers’ lavishly furnished flat, however, she has a change of heart.

Even her friend and enthusiastic supporter Bektour Iskender, founder of the Kloop.kg media portal, called the clip  "gross". Satybaldieva, however, remains ambivalent. "I never said I supported bride-kidnapping. I don’t". The advert was clearly a joke, and one "suited to [Kyrgyz] mentality" she said.

A series of longer videos on her YouTube channel hint at a more reflective Eldana. In one called "Hate" she explains how she worked through her profound dislike of a high-performing Chinese classmate while taking a shower. Another, 17 things that I learned in 2017, verges on motivational speaking.

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Eldana Satybaldieva from her Instagram account

These efforts have plenty to offer young people "even if the delivery is sometimes crude," said Karlygash Kabatova, founder of UyatEmes.kz, a website focused on sex education and other youth-centric issues. 

Kabatova also noted that over time, negative comments under Satybaldieva’s content have steadily diminished, signaling a broader acceptance of her quirky act. In an online space characterized by polemic trolling, this is surprising, Kabatova said.

Satybaldieva’s status as reluctant role model was on show in 2016 at a TEDx event broadcast by Kyrgyz state television. Clearly wracked by nerves, she was loudly applauded by a young studio audience at every turn.  "Hi Mama, I’m finally on the box", Satybaldieva joked at one point.

The theme of that talk – the vast potential for self-expression that the Internet offers – seems more relevant in Kyrgyzstan than ever before.

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Eldana Satybaldieva from her Instagram account

In September another previously unknown young woman from Kyrgyzstan, Zere Asylbek released an explosive song speaking out against gender discrimination. The clip went viral, earning her an international media spotlight as well as death threats from anonymous patriarchs that accused her of shaming Kyrgyzstan.

Satybaldieva calls Zere "very cool" but reiterates that she is not ready to champion weightier causes. "I just try to show people that if you want to do something, you can". she said. "It doesn't matter whether it is a dumb blog or anything else".

This article, written by Chris Rickleton, was originally published on Eurasianet, 7 January 2019.

Related posts:

Kyrgyz Space Program: Creating the First Kyrgyz Satellite Ever & It Will be Built by Girls
Kyrgyzstan: Social Entrepreneur Finds Foothold in Tien Shan Foothills
Kyrgyz Woman Singer Remakes Poem Traditionally Sung By Men
All-Woman Brewery Brings Craft Beer to Kyrgyzstan