ASTANA – The National Museum of Asian Art in Washington, D.C. hosted a fashion show highlighting Kazakh craft traditions as part of the Soul of Tengri program at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, reported Kazinform news agency on July 13.
The show, organized by the Smithsonian Artisan Initiative, the Kazakh Union of Artisans, and Chevron, featured collections by three local artisans – Aizhan Bekkulova, Aizhan Sembigaliyeva and Tilek Sultan.
The collections showcased the unique textile and jewelry-making traditions of Kazakhstan, illustrating its diverse culture.
Bekkulova presented handmade Turkic clothing, including wool headdresses shaped like sun-headed deities based on petroglyphs found in southeastern Kazakhstan, which garnered significant interest.
Sembigaliyeva drew inspiration from the nature and national reserves of the Mangystau Region, dedicating her collection to this region and its textile traditions.
Sultan got inspiration from the attire worn by the country’s ancestors. His collection represented the traditional clothing of Kazakh tribes, which featured a wide range of costumes, jewelry, and color palettes.
Clifford Murphy, the Director of the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, stressed their commitment to supporting artisans preserving ancient traditions in modern attire.
“We were delighted to support the Kazakh side and provide a platform for showcasing their creative work,” said Murphy.
The Smithsonian Artisan Initiative Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage initiated a partnership in 2020 with the Kazakh Union of Artisans, Chevron, and the United States Department of State in Almaty to bring together Kazakh and American artists of the same craft traditions and share their experiences.
Established in 2012, the Kazakh Union of Artisans aims to preserve and promote traditional arts and enhance artisans’ living standards, foster professional growth, and support the development of craft businesses and the creative industry in the country.