Folks Crafts Experiencing a Revival

Эхо времениThe Altyn Orda House of Creative Design is bringing back ancient crafts and presenting them in a new light.

Nowadays, it is hard to surprise people with anything due to the diverse selection of goods available. Even products from leading Western brands such as Gucci bags, Louis Vuitton scarves, Chanel dresses and the likes are readily available. To certain people, these are everyday items. However, in the modern age of globalization and technocracy, says Yrza Tursynzada – the head of Altyn Orda, – people tend to feel nostalgic for their traditions and values. The term “neo-ethno-style” was coined in modern interior design; it compliments modern, hi-tech, classical, neoclassical and deco art styles amongst others.

For four consecutive years, the company has won the public goods award in the nationwide contest the Best Goods of Kazakhstan and its leader was awarded the Order of “Kurmet” (“Honour”) for her contributions to the revival and development of Kazakh culture and traditions.

Turning to the Past

The gallery of the Altyn Orda creative design house is a special world; it is warm, pleasing to the eyes, cosy and without exaggeration, luxurious. It displays intricate interior design themes and clothing and furniture crafted using national motifs. It incorporates ancient Kazakh folk craft techniques such as patchwork, embroidery, oyma and felt art with a modern twist. These things are complemented with Swarovski rhinestones, fringe, organza, velour, beads, natural feathers, and even pearls, turquoise, corals and other decorative stones. The mix of fabrics, colours and geometric figures creates an inimitable style. The patchworks attract the eye with their multihued diversity.

A striking template of innovations, reflecting neo-ethnic-style is a hand-sewn couch, which was sewn with classic materials and fabrics. These materials include tuskiiz, mat, tekemets, yarn, alasha, takyr-clem, syrmak.

In the modern ethnic room, in place of curtains, a shimyldyk is offered in a variety of new styles, colours and hues, bringing back the memories of the past.

Topping it all is an exclusive collection of dowries with historical articles that have been forgotten for all too long including quilts and other pieces of bedding crafted in folk styles such as shabadan, shimyldyk, kos zhastyk, jer zhastyk, shai korpe, kuyeu korpe, makhabbat korpe, ak kzol, bata kilem, kuda korzhyn, korzhyn and  kalta, aniana.

Unique things for babies are hand-made in traditional folk style at Altyn Orda too.

Amid the variety of solid and attractive ethnic articles, you feel plunged into the world of childhood and adolescence and that you are getting closer to the nation’s historical roots. The clothing almost transmits the warmth of the crafters’ hands to you, while giving you energy and preserving memories of the past. Yrza Tursynzada says that visitors, especially older ones, are grateful for the shop; foreign guests take interest in the crafts too. More than once, the shop was complimented at international exhibitions, especially while in Europe.

Risk paid off

Kazakhs innately respect their elders, their traditions and national heirlooms. The Kazakh people are naturally open, hospitable, amicable and peace loving; they seek to live in harmony with the world and dig deep into the cultural traditions of the Great Steppe, Tursynzada said. Interest in the best traditions of folk art and the desire to revive unjustly forgotten arts and crafts has noticeably grown in recent years. This trend can be ascribed to the growth of culture in society and a more profound and objective perception of the nation’s heritage and traditional style.

While in Moscow, she bought traditional hand-made articles as gifts for her friends and acquaintances: a pouch, a cushion and the likes.

Tursynzada’s first steps in business came in the form of 3-4 quilts that she made together with her housekeeper; they were sold within a week. Visitors started coming; they were interested in buying quilts and other ethnic articles meant for special occasions and celebrations such as matchmaking events, weddings and births. That’s how she got the idea of  running her own business.

Altyn Orda’s products are not only beautiful, but also carry a historical and aesthetic idea. They are part of Kazakh culture and national memory. The in-depth meaning of tradition and how it is carried out is painstakingly explained to visitors.

Guests are likely to remember a well preserved custom that has great educational value, rather than the expensive restaurant it took place in. It is sure to leave an unforgettable impression.

As ethnic crafts came into demand, Yrza Tursynzada had substantially invested in the new business, acquiring modern equipment from the Japanese, Swiss, Russians and Chinese. They use fabrics and furnishings of high quality; the young company is particularly intent on using quality to carve a secure niche in the market for our goods. This is unattainable with simple machinery.

The technologies applied are the most advanced too, they include photo-printing, computer embroidery and working with stone. Combining them with hand crafting techniques yields amazing results. Altyn Orda crafters have made a quilt called the “Echo of Time,” in modern and ancient embroidery, which is a real work of art.

Tursynzada selected artisans for her enterprise from all over Kazakhstan. They have 35 enthusiastic seamstresses and embroiderers, dedicated to this delicate work; they do everything painstakingly.

The head of the company believes that the needlework, which develops artistic taste and skill, patience and accuracy, enriches one’s inner life and is aesthetically pleasing.

She said, “At first, people said this was a crazy idea and a risky venture, there is little money in crafts.” But she persevered and became obsessed, and rightly so, as the articles are in great demand, not only at home, but also abroad.

Quality is of the essence

Quality, according to the business lady, is a strategic business development tool.

“High quality should be the standard for our society,” she stated. “If each of us put his heart into his/her job, we would be unrivalled.”

According to her, quality is particularly relevant now that Kazakhstan is in the Customs Union.

“Deepening integration is an inevitable process,” Tursynzada asserted. “Alone, we could be simply swept away and forgotten about in this fast paced world. We are bound to be in vogue, in the mainstream and to be among the 30 most advanced nations. We must learn new things and make everything with supreme quality.”

The Altyn Orda is now planning to take part in EXPO 2017.

Get The Astana Times stories sent directly to you! Sign up via the website or subscribe to our Twitter and Telegram!