Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Ikat Textiles in Art

Long before Oscar de la Renta worked with Ferghana ikat master Rasuljon Mirzaakhmedov and brought about a revival in ikat weaving, artists in the early 20th century were incorporating ikat patterns in their paintings.

Here are some splendid examples.

ikat textiles paintings, ikat art 19th 20th century art, uzbekistan art textile tours
The Reader by Felix Vallaton, 1922
ikat textiles paintings, ikat art 19th 20th century art, uzbekistan art textile tours
Portrait of K.B. Kustodiev by Boris Kustodiev, 1922

ikat textiles paintings, ikat art 19th 20th century art, uzbekistan art textile tours
Odalisque with Red Box by Henri Matisse, 1952



ikat textiles paintings, ikat art 19th 20th century art, uzbekistan art textile tours
Portrait of a Young Gentleman Seated on a Sofa, by Nicolette Meeres

ikat textiles paintings, ikat art 19th 20th century art, uzbekistan art textile tours
Samarkand by Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin, 1920s


ikat textiles paintings, ikat art 19th 20th century art, uzbekistan art textile tours
To the Train by Victor Ufimstev, 1927 (View it at the Savitsky Museum, Nukua)
ikat textiles paintings, ikat art 19th 20th century art, uzbekistan art textile tours
Tajik with Teacup by Pavel Benkov, 1929 (View it at Bukhara Museum of Contemporary Art).
ikat textiles paintings, ikat art 19th 20th century art, uzbekistan art textile tours
Zorah on the Terrace by Henri Matisse, 1912
ikat textiles paintings, ikat art 19th 20th century art, uzbekistan art textile tours
A Rich Kyrgyz Hunter with Falcon by Vasily Vereshchagin, 1871
ikat textiles paintings, ikat art 19th 20th century art, uzbekistan art textile tours
Carpet Seller (Tartar) by Boris Kustodiev, 1920
Related posts:
A 19th century Georgian Painter in Uzbekistan - Gigo Gabashvili
Robert Rauschenberg: Samarkand Stitches
Central Asia in Art: From Soviet Orientalism to the New Republics  
Celebrities in Ikat

Friday, August 30, 2019

Kyrgyzstan: Women Bring Change Through Water, Technology and Better Infrastructure

kyrgyzstan farming water management, kyrgyzstan women farmers, kyrgyzstan small group art craft tours
A typical rural family farm in Kyrgyzstan
Shakhodat Teshebayeva from Khalmion, a village in southern Kyrgyzstan bordering Uzbekistan, is 50 years old and the sole breadwinner of her family.

Her income comes from farming, working for 8-10 long hours in the fields every day. She doesn’t shy away from the hard work, but lately, the hard has become impossible, because of the growing water crisis.

The crisis, which is worse in spring and summer, stems from a combination of factors. As the mountains get less snow because of climate change, the glacier-fed rivers don’t have enough water. The dwindling water source is the same for Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, and as Uzbek farmers across the border start irrigating their fields in spring, the Kyrgyz farmers living down river experience water shortage.

The lack of access to irrigation water in this area, where agriculture is the mainstay, has hard consequences. Women and girls often bear the brunt of the problem, as water collection is considered a women’s chore. As the water source dwindles, they have to walk further and longer to fetch water, even after dark.

"Lack of access to water harms my agricultural production, food security and business opportunities in the local bazaar," explains Teshebayeva. "Fetching water during the night is a daunting task as it puts us women at risk of violence and carrying it over long distances can have lasting health effects".

Two years back, Teshebayeva decided to take matters into her own hands and mobilized a women’s self-help group to advocate for equal access to water resources in her community. As a first step, she started attending the village Water Users Association meetings, which were dominated by men and decisions about water access were taken without women.

"When I started to participate at the meetings, many said behind my back that I did it as I had nothing better to do," said Teshebayeva. But all the talk didn’t dissuade her. Teshebayeva continued to voice women’s challenges at the meetings and offered solutions. She became the first woman in the history of her village to advocate for women’s participation in water management.

Through a livelihoods project funded by the Government of Finland, UN Women has facilitated the establishment of 14 women’s self-help groups in southern Kyrgyzstan that now have 170 members. The project provided skills training to boost women’s income and connected them with Water User Associations and local-self-governments so that women could have a voice in water management decisions that impacted their daily lives, livelihoods and safety.

kyrgyzstan farming water management, kyrgyzstan women farmers, kyrgyzstan small group art craft tours
Shakhodat Teshebayeva shares her best practices on water management with the women from different regions.

"Prior to the project launch the situation was difficult for women. Women were afraid to irrigate the fields at night," continues Teshebayeva. "We used to collect water strictly in turns as per the schedule agreed at public gatherings where women had no say." The result was a prevailing sense of insecurity among women and low harvest as they often missed turns due to safety concerns.

Teshebayeva has been a trailblazer for other women in her village as she managed to negotiate water supply during the day-time and flexible schedules for irrigation for women farmers, especially single heads of households. She also encouraged more women to participate at the village meetings to advocate for women’s equal and safe access to irrigation water.

As a result of the work of partners and UN Women, the number of women participating at the decision-making level in Water User Associations has increased from 13 to 124 women in the 14 self-help groups between 2016 and 2018.

These numbers matter. "The project ensured that women’s voices are heard and taken into account in water resources management by empowering them to be active participants in addressing inequalities related to access to and control over water," says Anara Aitkurmanova, UN Women Project Coordinator.

About a hundred kilometers (62 miles) north-east of Khalmion, the village of Naiman used to have similar challenges. Its main water source had been contaminated with mercury for years and access to safe drinking water and cultivable land were key issues for the community. The young and able were migrating out of the village, leaving an older and dwindling population behind. Through women’s self-help groups and peer educators among young girls and boys, the UN Women project facilitated women’s participation in water management, with great results.

kyrgyzstan farming water management, kyrgyzstan women farmers, kyrgyzstan small group art craft tours
Shakhodat Teshebayeva learns how to calculate the expenditures for making greenhouses (center) in her home garden.

Roza Shamaeva, who worked closely with the project, is the first female head of the village and a force to reckon with. She says, "through the UN Women-led project, I informed people about fair and equitable distribution of water resources and how to effectively use land and water for sustainable agriculture. I hope that the positive changes we’ve achieved will prevent young people from migrating so that we can work together for the development of our village."

Shamaeva was re-elected as the head of Naiman rural district for the second time in 2018. She has brought not only water, but also electricity and better street lighting to Naiman, restored irrigation infrastructure and convinced the local population about the need for efficient water management and timely payment of their water bills.

Because of her advocacy, farmers in her community have started applying modern and sustainable agricultural methods such as drip irrigation and composting. As a result, the harvests are better and have less impact on the environment.

For villages across Kyrgyzstan, water management is a woman’s issue; and making sure women can inform and shape decisions on water management needs to become everyone’s issue.

This article was originally published by UN Women in March 2019

Related posts:
Farmers in Kyrgyzstan Try to Capitalize on Global Quinoa Fad
Kyrgyzstan: Social Entrepreneur Finds Foothold in Tien Shan Foothills
Kyrgyzstan: Yurt Preschools Reach Nomadic Children
Kyrgyzstan Ends Statelessness in Historic First 

Monday, July 29, 2019

Georgia: Tbilisi's Auto Museum

tbilisis georgia car museum, auto museums tbilisi georgia, tourism georgia tours
Moskvich 403E
I had no idea how interesting a car museum could be until I visited Tbilisi's Auto Museum. Highly recommended.

Founded by Georgian businessman and collector Giorgi Mamulashvili, this private museum boasts over 30 models of superbly restored, iconic Soviet vintage cars and motorcycles. It is one of the world's largest collections of Soviet vehicles.

Museum director, Rezo, guides visitors with fascinating tales of each and every car - in Russian, English and Georgian. Many have been sourced from former Soviet republics.

Post WWII, the Soviets competed not just in the space race, but on every level to demonstrate the superiority of their political system.

Soviet engineers modelled cars from European and American designs - at times these were blatant copies, at other times cool elements from a foreign model were incorporated into a Soviet car.

In the 1960s, private car ownership was on the rise and it was decided to build a "people's car". For reasons of cost-efficiency, they chose to sign a licence agreement with a foreign company and produce the car on the basis of an existing, modern model. Several options were considered, including Volkswagen, Ford, Peugeot, Renault and Fiat.

tbilisis georgia car museum, auto museums tbilisi georgia, tourism georgia tours
Volga GAZ M21
The Fiat 124 was chosen because of its simple and sturdy design, being easy to manufacture and repair. The plant was built in just 4 years (1966–1970) in the small town of Stavropol Volzhsky, which later grew to a population of more than half a million.

Stavropol was renamed Togliatti to commemorate Palmiro Togliatti, the Italian politician and leader of the Italian Communist Party.

The first VAZ-2101, named Zhiguli within the Soviet Union and Lada for export markets, was a rugged model to handle the poor roads, Ladas were also designed to be easily maintained by owners as there were few auto-repair shops.

The museum includes models of the much-feared KGB cars, that could accelerate incredibly fast to nab people off the streets, or follow foreign diplomats! There are Zaporozhets, Chaikas and Pobedas. All the vehicles are registered and participate in various regional festivals. I happily spent two hours there. (More photos below.)

How to visit:

The museum is in an industrial complex and can be a tad difficult to find. Catch the metro to Varketili and then a taxi. The museum is about 5 kms away via the Kakheti Highway Service Rd - ask the driver to wait. (Better still invite the driver to the museum). Round trip taxi fare and waiting time was about US$12.

Address: Auto Museum Street #7 next to Grigol Lortkipanidze street
Telephone: +995 599 54 56 28 (Keep it handy so the driver can call if lost).
Opening hours: Daily except Mondays, from 11:00 - 18:00.
Entrance fee: GEL 10 (about US$3.50)

Related posts:
Georgia: State Silk Museum, Tbilisi
A 19th century Georgian Painter in Uzbekistan - Gigo Gabashvili
The Blue Tablecloths of Georgia: New Life of an Old Tradition
Georgia: Soviet Modernist Mosaics from 1960 to 1990

tbilisis georgia car museum, auto museums tbilisi georgia, tourism georgia tours



tbilisis georgia car museum, auto museums tbilisi georgia, tourism georgia tours

tbilisis georgia car museum, auto museums tbilisi georgia, tourism georgia tours