Aizhan Bekkulova, a prominent expert of handicraft arts and the intangible cultural heritage of Kazakhstan and Central Asia. Bekkulova has devoted the last 25 years of her life to the development of crafts in Kazakhstan. Since 2012, she serves as the chairman of the Union of Artisans of Kazakhstan as well as the vice president of the Asia-Pacific division of the World Craft Council for Central Asia.
My father had a profound influence on me. When I was a high school student, he would ask me who I wanted to become when I grow up. I had different answers back then: a photographer, a doctor, then something else… But after I finished the school, my father offered to introduce me to his friend from the Art Foundation who was engaged in jewellery making, so that I could learn this craft too. So, Abdulla Nauruzbayev, my father’s friend, became my teacher.
My name is Madiyar Zhapabayev; I am 29 years old. I was born in South Kazakhstan, in Aschysay, a village nearby Kentau.
There were no artisans in my family, but my father’s younger brothers work with wood.
In 2012, I graduated from the art department of Abay Kazakh National Pedagogical University in Almaty. After completing my studies, I began to work at Almas Mustafayev’s workshop where I made my very first musical instruments.
Bunisa-eje* is a master of traditional craft from the highland village of Sary-Mogol in the south of Kyrgyz Republic. Together with other artisans from the community, for many years she has been working on the revival of traditional wear of Alai Kyrgyz people and passing her priceless knowledge to the new generation.
Ton district on the south coast of Issyk-Kul lake, the gem of Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia, is the home of a unique craft organisation Altyn Oymok (‘Golden thimble’ in Kygyz). For their felt and leather products, the artisans have earned respect not only from people in Kyrgyz Republic but far beyond its borders. Janyl Baisheva, founder and director of Altyn Oymok, shares her story and and the story of her unique company.
Seventh Heaven is a unique organisation founded in 2015 in Bishkek by four very different people who had different backgrounds yet were united by a single goal: to revive, preserve and adapt the traditional Kyrgyz culture to the modern world.