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From Yurts To Kimchi, Protecting The World's 'Intangible' Cultures

A Eurasianet partner post from RFE/RL

Seventy-year-old Kakesh Jumabai-Kyzy has spent her entire life working with felt.

The mother of eight lives in the mountainous Kyrgyz area of At-Bashy, where many families still tend flocks of sheep that provide the warm, fluffy wool that Jumabai-Kyzy transforms into traditional Kyrgyz clothing and the colorful felt rugs called shyrdaks.

"I learned carpet-making from my mother, and after that I continued working by myself. I make yurts, shyrdaks, kementais (wool coats for men), and kalpaks (national wool hats)," Jumabai-Kyzy says. "Dozens of my items have been sold abroad. But only my younger daughter-in-law and one of my own daughters are continuing my craft. My other children didn't learn it."

Jumabai-Kyzy is one of a dwindling number of artisans skilled in making shyrdaks and alakiyiz, an appliqued felt carpet.

The rugs, which combine rich colors and striking graphic patterns, were traditionally used for warmth and decoration in Kyrgyz households.

But Nazgul Mekeshova, a historical-legacy specialist with the Kyrgyz Culture Ministry, says the appeal of shyrdaks and alakiyiz is dying out.

To read the full story

RFE/RL correspondents Baktygul Chynybaeva and Arifa Kazimova contributed to this piece from Bishkek and Baku

A Eurasianet partner post from RFE/RL

From Yurts To Kimchi, Protecting The World's 'Intangible' Cultures

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