Discovery Kyrgyzstan
Discovery Kyrgyzstan travel guide #10/2008

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The "Arts and crafts of the peoples of Central Asia" exhibition in a bookshop

In the very center of Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, in the Ala-Too square, there is a cozy bookshop, «Raritet» (Rarity). A descending way into a half-cellar and the spacious halls of the modern bookshop hit the eyes of an amazed visitor. Unexpectedly light spaces with rows of shelf stands full of books. Rare little tables with piles of books remind you of the name of the shop. The thoughtful exotic fishes staring at you from behind the glass of aquariums, and terrapins taking then-ease and basking under the artificial sun - they set your mind wandering on philosophical paths; you feel like turning the pages slowly and reading the books that entice you with the mysterious and yet unknown world hidden under the covers. But the visitor is intrigued not only by books, but by small wooden doors entirely plated with carved patterns and symbols as well. Only few can guess that it is simply a door into a yurt. Behind that door there is a mysterious world - exhibition of the
decorative-applied art of the peoples of Central Asia.

The land of Central Asia was inhabited by nomads. Their lifestyle has left an imprint on the whole material culture. The dwelling places, clothes, utensils - everything was adapted to the nomadic life. But, while producing any work-piece, the masters tried to meet not only practical needs of household activities, but spiritual demands as well. In the national perception, the applied art is non-separable from everyday life, and beauty - from usefulness.
The external and internal furnishings of the yurt, clothes and utensils, female garnishments, horse harness bore national ornaments that, together with trimmings, convert them into works of art. In a small room of the bookshop, samples of all kinds of the applied art have been collected: carved wooden chests, leather vessels for koumiss and milk, metallic jugs for water, parts of a horse harness decorated with enamels and silver, patterned embroidery - saima, and female garnishments.
Crossing the threshold of the exhibition, you find yourself in the amazing world of ancient symbols and signs. From the most ancient times, patterns and ornaments protected the people from influence of evil force and spirits. Rings, ear-rings, headgears, bracelets, and particularly tumars and amulets had power over the other world and controlled the life of people, bringing them good luck, health, and protection. In the exhibition, you can see Turkmen, Kazakh, Uighur, Dungan, and Kirghiz ornaments and clothes. The guide will tell you about secrets hidden under the ornamental patterns, and about all kinds of the applied art. You may not only see ancient masterpieces, but will be allowed to touch them, or, if you would like, to try them on. There is still a magic force lingering in them, which was enclosed into the ornaments by an ancient master. Unfortunately, with each year, it is getting less and less common to see these works of art in people's household. Here, in the «Raritet» bookshop, you always have a chance to feel the vividness of the nomads' culture, experience the magic of ancient workpieces, learn something about mysteries of eternal symbols. As well as to buy books on art, traditions, and customs of the nomadic peoples.

Victor Vagapovich Kadyrov,
the director of the «Raritet»
publishing house

Discovery Kyrgyzstan #8

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