TURKESTAN – In Turkestan’s new centre of arts and crafts near the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yassawi, visitors can see the process of making traditional handicrafts as well as buy them.
The centre consists of three blocks, each with its own purpose. There are workshops, two exhibition halls and classrooms on the first floor, as well as retail shops selling work by local craftsmen. More than 296 million tenge (US$1.9 million) was allocated from the local budget for building the centre.
Potter Abaikhan Rysbayev was one of the first to move into the new centre of applied art. According to him, the centre has all the necessary conditions for masters to work and their pupils to learn. Those who are interested in the process of modelling clay or making tapestries or jewellery can watch masters at work.
Under the eyes of visitors and students, clay turns into jars and traditional musical instruments, which viewers are encouraged to try, in the master’s hands. Rysbayev follows the tradition of ancient ceramics from Otrar, creating bottles with narrow necks and recognisable printed patterns.
Rysbayev has long wanted to open a school of ceramics, where he could teach teenagers and young adults to create as a hobby or as a potential profession. As traditional ceramic pitchers are increasingly in demand among visitors to Turkestan, the traditional craft may become a more lucrative career. Last year, about 700,000 people visited Turkestan.
When the idea of the centre was proposed by local authorities, many craftsmen supported it. The exhibition that celebrated the opening of the applied art centre presented a variety of souvenirs and artwork, including pottery and jewellery, stone-encrusted leather harnesses, tapestries and handicrafts made of wood and felt.