Kazakh craft fair offers handmade souvenirs

ASTANA – This summer, the capital is welcoming more tourists than ever. As EXPO 2017 nears its end, guests are seeking mementoes to take a piece of Kazakhstan home with them. The Sheberler Ayuly (Village of Crafts People) offers a variety of handmade products in national style. The exhibit, located near Baiterek monument, will be open until the end of the expo.

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“Foreign tourists and guests of our capital necessarily want to get some souvenir or gift that is connected not only with the city of Astana and the expo, but in general with the symbols of our country. Here, everyone is able to find such original products made by local crafts people,” said Sheberler Ayuly organiser Aigul Zhanserikova, according to the city akimat (local administration) press service.

The exhibition features products of crafters from different regions of Kazakhstan – Almaty, Astana, South Kazakhstan, Petropavlovsk, Atyrau, Kostanai and Semei. Anyone can buy souvenirs with Kazakh symbols at affordable prices.

Exclusive products made of leather, ceramics, wood and clay, various jewellery, traditional Kazakh embroidery, wallets and bags, children’s slippers and other handmade souvenirs are especially popular among tourists.

“The whole world is now moving in the direction of eco and ethno. This is becoming a big trend; therefore, all the products produced by artisans reflect this style. Prices here are acceptable and affordable for many,” said Zhanserikova.

Similar products can be found near the Yessil River embankment, where craft shops and artist’s workshops are located in 14 half-yurts.

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Photo credit: astana.gov.kz

“Every city in the world has its own Arbat,” said Astana’s Saryarka district Akim (Mayor) Arman Turlubek referring to a famous walk-only street in Moscow. “This is the place where folk craft people, musicians and artists gather. They are representatives of a unique subculture that is always open for each person and pleasing with their works and talents. Their style forms a special look of districts and cities. As you can see, the most skillful masters of applied art are gathered here. The atmosphere of the Yessil River embankment makes this place truly beloved and popular.”

Fans of handmade items can purchase bead and stone jewellery, knitted and ceramic products and interior and play dolls, as well as soap. Masters engaged in pottery, leatherwork and embroidery demonstrate their best products to fair visitors.

“I have been engaged in art for seven years. At this exhibition, we offer albums, postcards, decoupage boxes, paintings, handmade soaps and so on. Both foreign tourists and local residents visit the site, looking for some unusual souvenirs associated with Astana,” fair participant Evelina Andrakhanova told the paper.

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Astana’s promenade was created on the initiative of city Akim (Mayor) Asset Issekeshev. The facility is designed to awaken an interest in the history and traditions of the Kazakh people among the younger generation.

“This is my second visit to Kazakhstan. I am from the Czech Republic. I live with my friends near the embankment and almost every week I come here to pick up some gifts for my family members. I like the atmosphere here, I really enjoy it. People come here not only to buy something, but look at these amasing handmade items, play chess, sing karaoke or just relax,” said tourist James Kral.