Thursday, December 7, 2017

Uzbek Ikat DNA Project

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Detail of 19th century silk ikat chapan (coat) from Bukhara
If you are serious about ikat fabrics, then this database will be of interest to you.

Sponsored by the Volkswagen Foundation, the five-year research and academic project "Modernization of Tradition: Uzbek Textile Heritage As Cultural And Economic Resource" produced various outcomes. One is the publication of an online, multimedia database about Uzbek ikat.

The German and Uzbek researchers sourced images found in Uzbek and European museums, in private collections, in literary sources (books, magazines, periodicals), in textile shops, and textile markets in Uzbekistan, and in the cities of Andijan, Namangan, Marghilan, Bukhara, and Tashkent.

The database is for scientific, educational, industrial, and handicraft production purposes. It is also a resource for designers, textile professionals, ethnographers, textile anthropologists, cultural mediators, artists, ethnologists and students.

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Detail of 19th century silk velvet ikat, known as bakhmal
It is a serious contribution to the field. Unfortunately, the website is a little "clunky" to use.

Registration, which is free, is required to explore the database. Then you can view and search ikats. There is a 521-page downloadable book in pdf format with extensive notes on each item.

View the Ikat DNA database.

Related posts:
The Fantasy World of Uzbek Textile Artist Dilyara Kaipova
Ikat: The Thread That Connects Generations
Oscar de la Renta's Love Affair with Uzbek Ikat
Ikat Porcelain Tableware 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Dilyara Kaipova Strikes Again at the International Applied Arts Festival, Tashkent

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 Dilyara Kaipova's ikat chapan (coat), "Brain". Image: Фёдора - Панов
Incredibly talented Uzbek textile designer, Dilyara Kaipova, took Tashkent's inaugural International Applied Arts Festival by storm.

Two large spaces in the Art Gallery of Uzbekistan (NBU) are dedicated to her textile pieces.

These rooms have been consistently packed with viewers and Tashkent social media is a-buzz with commentary on Kaipova's work.

The pieces include new work from her "Soft Life" project.

Additionally, some of the pieces exhibited at the 2016 International Exhibition of Contemporary Art in Tashkent, depicting Mickey Mouse, Batman, Darth Vader and other symbols of consumer culture are displayed.

Enjoy the images from the exhibition below.

Read more about Dilyara's work in this article: The Fantasy World of Uzbek Textile Artist Dilyara Kaipova.

You can also follow her and contact her on:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dilyara.kaipova
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/crazy_for_ikat/


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 Soft Life project:  hanging carcasses made of silk and cotton threads; background "Stars & Stripes" ikat chapan. Image: Фёдора - Панов
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Dilyara Kaipova's Soft Life project: embryo from silk ikat. Image: Фёдора - Панов
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 Dilyara Kaipova's Soft Life project:  mattress fabric, silk, threads, gold. Image: Фёдора - Панов
 
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Dilyara Kaipova's Soft Life project: embryo from Shakhirsabs suzane. Image: Фёдора - Панов

Related posts:
Ikat: The "Thread That Connects Generations" Exhibition, Tashkent
Sacrament of Magic Yarn - Madina Kasimbaeva's Exhibition, Tashkent
The Fantasy World of Uzbek Textile Artist Dilyara Kaipova
Uzbekistan: A Passion for Printing


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Tea with Bread and Jam – a Traveller’s Appreciation of the Finer Things in Kyrgyz Life

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Homemade breakfast jams, Cholpon Ata, Kyrgyzstan
Australian-based globetrotter Barbara Flett travelled with Uzbek Journeys to Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan in spring 2017.

With fellow travellers, she discovered the life-changing scrumptiousness of Kyrgyz homemade jams. 

There is a previous Uzbek Journeys post on 5 Reasons for Visiting Kyrgyzstan – the mountain scenery, craftsmanship, history, culinary influences and a sense of time travel to past eras – but this catalogue of reasons, while valid, misses another important enticement.

Kyrgyzstan, I venture to nominate, could potentially claim a World Heritage listing for its jam.

The culinary skill of Kyrgyz households in jam making stands unrivalled, but there are reasons why this is not widely appreciated outside the country.

While visiting in May 2017, our tour group first discovered this particular skill at Mairam Omurzakova's house in Kochkor.

After a demonstration of her renowned skills in felt carpet making, her hospitality extended to lunch which included, among other delights, a superlative homemade raspberry jam. When some in our group suggested that she might include a sideline in making jam to sell to her visitors, Mairam looked surprised.  She explained that her garden only had enough raspberry bushes to make jam for her family and the odd tour group who came to lunch.

It was the same in the other home stays or hotels on the trip. Fantastic jam – all of it of the homemade variety and mainly sourced from the contents of the garden.

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Mairam Omurzakova (centre), not only a master felter, but also a master jam maker.
Image: Rosemary Sheel
In a country of largely subsistence farming, Kyrgyz families will usually have their own plot for growing vegetables, their fruit trees and berry canes and their livestock.

The jam produced by the women of the family is for household consumption and not for commercial sale.

According to Wikipedia, while agriculture makes up a substantial proportion of Kyrgyzstan’s GDP, only 7 % of the country is suitable for farming. But from that 7%, Kyrgyz cooks are able to conjure the most delicious, dark and intensely flavoured jams our group had ever tasted.

And once having sampled the jammy offering at Mairam’s house, we went on a jam sampling spree at every meal.

As well as raspberry jams, we discovered a delicious black cherry jam, several varieties of plum and apricot plus of course strawberry jams. Most interesting of all was jam made from the berries of the sea buckthorn bush which grows wild in the Kyrgyz mountains. These yellow or orange berries produce a jam the colour of clear marmalade but with a tart citrusy flavor. Sea buckthorn is high in anti-oxidants so this jam was not only delicious but also good for you.

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Berries of the sea buckthoron plant
In researching Kyrgyz jams, we discovered that jam could be eaten at every meal.

For breakfast with porridge or yoghurt or as an accompaniment to blinis or pancakes.

Kyrgyz lunchtime spreads would always include delicious bread for sharing and a jam or two which would already be laid out on the table. So one could, and we frequently did, get stuck into the bread and jam combination between even the savoury courses.

Then there are Kyrgyz desserts such as borsook – a sort of fried doughnut - which is also traditionally served with jam.

And finally there is the Kyrgyz practice of sweetening their tea with jam instead of sugar. Particularly delicious is a spoonful or two of black cherry jam in tea which produces something which closely resembles a hot Ribena drink.

So if travelling to Kyrgyzstan, please sample all the homemade jams on offer. After all you won’t be able to buy some to take home - the locals aren’t sharing this particular bounty with the rest of the world.


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Range of delicious jams available at One Village One Product, Karakol. This Japanese NGO works with women of the Naryn region. And their delicious jams are for sale. Flavours include: sea buckthorn, chamomile, pine cone, dandelion, walnut, barberry.

Related posts:
Felted Carpets of Kyrgyzstan
Yurts of Central Asia 
Kyrgyz Chii - Yurt Screens and Mats