Tashkan Khakimova, aged 77, hunched over a country picket weaving machine within the distant mountainous area of Batken, Kyrgyzstan. With nimble fingers, she expertly manoeuvred wool, using a conventional rug-making method.
A younger schoolgirl held the remaining wool subsequent to Khakimova, wearing a white scarf and a velvet jacket with conventional embroidery on it.
After a number of hundred hours of labor, the wool might be remodeled right into a shyrdak – a conventional Kyrgyz rug.
Khakimova is considered one of a shrinking variety of principally aged individuals dwelling within the Central Asian nation’s mountainous areas who know methods to make a shyrdak.
Many fear that historical artwork will die out.
“Our mother and father taught us the method, however individuals are forgetting it,” Khakimova advised Agence France Presse (AFP).
She is a part of a bunch of older girls calling themselves the “Completely happy Grandmas” who meet within the small city of Kadamjay – nestled between the Alay mountains – to protect the endangered craft and increase their meager pensions.
UNESCO has warned that the talent of constructing the distinctive rugs is “in want of pressing safeguarding,” with an abundance of artificial carpets and the younger being principally disinterested.
A bunch of older girls calling themselves the “Completely happy Grandmas” reveals Shyrdaks – conventional Kyrgyz woolen rugs, on the Home of Tradition of the Metallurgists of Kadamjay – a metropolis constructed within the Thirties round an enormous metals manufacturing facility that’s now shut down, Batken, Kyrgyzstan, Oct. 2, 2023. (AFP Picture)
The “Completely happy Grandmas” have a mission: to draw Kadamjay’s kids to be taught the traditional method.
The group of round 20 girls meet a number of occasions per week within the native Soviet-era home of tradition, encouraging faculty kids to learn to weave.
“We come right here in order that this craft might be handed on from era to era, to show it to younger individuals,” Khakimova mentioned.
‘Entice the younger’
Rakhat Dzhoroyeva, one other girl within the group, mentioned it was necessary to protect the rugs as “these are customs that we inherited from our ancestors.”
“We do not wish to sit at residence with our arms crossed,” she mentioned. “We determined to proceed the custom.”
The ladies use wool from their very own animals to make the rugs.
“Manufacturing prices nothing,” Dzhoroyeva mentioned, including that wool is collected from cattle, sheep and goats and that “nothing goes to waste.”
She energetically lifts threads with a comb to strengthen the knots of the brown carpet she is making.
The shyrdak will then be embellished with vibrant conventional patterns recalling the nomadic tradition of the Kyrgyz individuals, earlier than being minimize out and quilted to make it extra resistant.
The pensioners meet on the “Home of Tradition of the Metallurgists” of Kadamjay – a metropolis constructed within the Thirties round an enormous metals manufacturing facility that’s now shut down.
Hoping to “entice the younger,” the ladies take centre stage within the constructing, with their conventional singing reverberating across the marble corridor.
Curious schoolgirls stroll previous, with a 6-year-old quickly crouching down to look at the work finished by the retirees.
A bunch of older girls calling themselves the “Completely happy Grandmas” work on weaving Shyrdaks – conventional Kyrgyz woolen rugs, on the Home of Tradition of the Metallurgists of Kadamjay – a metropolis constructed within the Thirties round an enormous metals manufacturing facility that’s now shut down, Batken, Kyrgyzstan, Oct. 2, 2023. (AFP Picture)
‘Loads of orders’
Dwelling in Kyrgyzstan’s poorest area, the “Completely happy Grandmas” additionally hope promoting the home made rugs will increase their pensions.
“I get round 6,000 som in pension (round 64 euros a month),” mentioned Saliya Bozhoyeva, one other girl within the group.
“We are able to promote rugs for a number of hundred euros, it permits me to compensate (for) my pension.”
The rusty, deserted metals manufacturing facility – which used to make use of most of the girls – towers over Kadamjay.
Its chapter has led to unemployment and an exodus of the working inhabitants.
“My husband and I used to work on the manufacturing facility, however at the moment younger individuals are pressured to look elsewhere,” Khakimova mentioned.
Like many households in Kyrgyzstan, her kids have gone to Russia – a conventional place of employment for Central Asians – to search for work.
However the “Completely happy Grandmas” have some hope: there was a renewed curiosity in conventional Kyrgyz carpets.
Easing tensions with neighbouring Uzbekistan have raised the potential for attracting vacationers to this distant area and the prospect to strengthen the native economic system – with some orders even coming from overseas.
“We’ve lots of orders, primarily from Bishkek,” mentioned Dzhoroyeva.
She added, joyfully: “And shortly, we’ll ship a rug to Japan.”