Rasuljon was born in Uzbekistan’s Ferghana Valley in 1972 and represents the fifth generation of ikat Weavers in his family. His UNESCO – sponsored workshop is in a madrassa (religious school) in Margilan, the most famous place for silk production in Central Asia. Designing ikat requires a team of artisans, masters of the complex tying, colouring and weaving techniques, and there are over 50 artisans at the workshop, as well as apprentices.
Rasuljon is one of a few authentic ikat designers remaining in Central Asia, after a decline during Russian and Soviet rule, and teaches as well as exhibits the art worldwide. He is a regular participant at the yearly Santa Fe International Folk Art Market and has authored a book on the secrets of natural dying, published in Uzbek and Dari.
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Oysara lives in the village of Shakrisabz in Uzbekistan. She learnt the skill of embroidery from her mother, and started selling her throws and cushion covers when her husband passed away five years ago. She embroiders smaller pieces herself, but when she has larger orders her female relatives help her. She works with naturally dyed silk and uses traditional patterns and motifs.
She sells her work to tourists, via a visiting sales woman who comes to the village and takes it to the nearby city of Bukhara. We are the only distributors of Oysara’s work outside Uzbekistan.
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DAMIR AND RUSTAM USMANOV
Rustam Usmanov is an eighth generation ceramicist and one of Uzbekistan’s most respected ceramic artisans, having received regional and international acclaim in the USA, Canada and throughout Europe. The Usmanov family moved from Russia to Rishtan, and upon graduation from the Tashkent Institute of Theatre and Art, Rustam joined the Rishtan ceramic factory and soon became its Chief Painting Architect.
While working at the factory Rustam studied the old Rishtan ceramics through books and museum collections, enriching his knowledge and helping him to develop his own style including the precision of his painting. When the ceramics factory closed in 1998, Rustam continued production in his home workshop, passing on his skills to his son Damir and to other apprentices. He is a member of the Art Academy of Uzbekistan, and a winner of the UNESCO Award of Excellence for his blue Rishtan ceramic pottery. Rustam and Damir are regular exhibitors at the yearly Santa Fe International Folk Art Market.
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SADAGUL AND FRIENDS
Sadagul works with felt as part of a cooperative of women in Northern Kyrgyzstan. She was one of the founding members of the cooperative in 1996 which now provides employment for over a hundred women, who would otherwise be unable to earn an income.
She has made and sewn with felt since childhood, and uses traditional methods and designs in her work. Each cushion cover and carpet is made by a group of women from her cooperative, and overseen by a team of managers who receive and commission the orders, and provide quality checks.
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AYJAN AND FRIENDS
Ayjan is a member of a felting group with seven other women in the capital city of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek.
When she joined the group she had little experience in crafting, similar to many women in the urban areas of Kyrgyzstan, but is now able to make designs with felt using strips of wool. She hopes to learn other skills and to continue working with traditional Kyrgyz techniques.
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Erkengul lives in Naryn, in the heart of Kyrgyzstan and works with a group of other women. She uses traditional techniques that she learnt from her mother. To make the Tush Kiyiz cushion covers she sources fragments of antique Kyrgyz embroidery from around the country, and adds new fabric to make a cushion cover which can be re-used.
Sadly the art of embroidery has died out in Kyrgyzstan, but profits from these purchases go to revive handicrafts and support artisans in the region.