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The Great Steppe! This is the reflection of the bright traces of our ancestors on the Eurasian continent – in the Great Steppe. This is the truth. The history of the Great Steppe has influenced the culture and civilization of many countries between East and West. Civilization in the Great Steppe never faded, but shone with light, turning into the greatest particle of world culture, occupying both the steppe and the city, becoming a great bearer of its culture. The Silk Road, as a trade highway, originated in the III century BC and existed until the XVI century of our century. The main route of the Great Silk Road through the territory of Kazakhstan ran through the south of the country. From the border of China, trade caravans moved through the city of Taraz to Central Asia, Persia, the Caucasus and Europe. The city of Taraz, founded in the 40s BC, as a military fortress on the banks of the Talas River, with a 2000-year history, has become a symbol of Turkic culture. One of the oldest cities, which has its own specifics in the development of history, sung by the outstanding poets of the East Khayyam, Hafiz and Rudaki.

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The road connecting East with West played a huge role in the development of Taraz. Thanks to her, the city was destined to become not only a place for commodity circulation, but also a point where different civilizations, cultural traditions and religious trends, scientific and technical achievements met.

1. Key craft with significant impact on social, cultural and economic development.


Geographically, the Zhambyl region, the second largest region of Kazakhstan with the main city of Taraz, is located in the south of the country. The population is 1,150,000 people. Due to the mild climate in the region, agriculture and cattle breeding are highly developed (in particular, sheep breeding of fine-fleeced merino breeds).


For a long time, nomadic life in the steppe and a completely natural economy forced people to produce everything they needed on their own. This is how Kazakh folk crafts were born, which satisfied all the needs of people and quite rarely became the subject of trade.


The key types of crafts in modern Taraz are the same types that were traditional and popular in ancient Taraz, i.e. crafts related to the processing of wool and leather, weaving, weaving, bone inlay, wood carving, jewelry, ceramics, etc. The excess of their own raw materials necessary for handicrafts (clay, wool, wood) and training courses in handicraft for young people in the workshops of famous masters give a great opportunity to do their favorite thing to 20% of the population of the region, earn and create new jobs.



2. Origin, history and traditions, of the crafts as well as their cultural identity


Wood products

One of the most important materials in the life of Kazakh nomads was wood. Woodworking craft provided the population with many items necessary in everyday life for household management, housing (yurts). Wood species were used as the material: birch, poplar, willow, juniper, walnut.


National musical instruments

Nomads who have contributed to the world civilization have been using musical instruments since ancient times. And the musical instruments they used had a peculiar sound, a manner of performance.

In ancient Taraz musical instruments were used during enemy raids instruments were used: drum (dabyl), daulpaz, uran, karnai (kerney), dangyra, asatayak, shankobyz. Singers and kuishi used stringed musical instruments such as dombra, sybyzgy, syrnai, kylkobyz.


Ceramic products

It is ceramic tableware that occupies the main place in the list of active use in the economy of our ancestors. Archaeologists have proved that for the first time clay products appeared on the territory of Taraz at the moment when people began to lead a sedentary lifestyle. Also, our archaeologists claim that in accordance with the ornament, production techniques, form, it is possible to clearly establish when the product was made, as well as to outline the portrait of the master.

The main material for the manufacture of ceramic products for Taraz craftsmen, as well as in ancient times, and in other things throughout the modern world, was clay. Mineral substances were added to the clay, which gives the final material special qualities. And the strength was achieved by high temperatures during firing.



The history of Taraz jewelry art, the origins that go back thousands of years, has always occupied a huge place in the cultural history of the nation. Archaeological excavations have shown that since ancient times, products made of copper, tin, gold, silver and other precious metals have been created on the territory of modern Taraz. Jewelry was also an integral part of clothing, household items and, of course, the decoration of horse equipment among the Kazakhs. Jewelry art was of a professional nature, this was due to the specifics of production. Jewelers working with gold and silver were called "zergers" from the word "zer" (Persian) - gold, gold jewelry. Zergers worked, as a rule, alone, often inherited their skills.

Modern artisans of Taraz make jewelry such as bracelets, rings, earrings, necklaces, sholpas, tumars, pins, buttons, belts. They treat their work very reverently, with enviable professionalism, creating jewelry with their own hands individually for each girl.


Leather processing, leather goods

A large and important place in the life of the Kazakhs was occupied by various objects made of leather and hides of cattle and camels. Clothes were sewn from skins, shoes were made from leather, vessels for various purposes, horse harness was made, wall panelsand chests were also created.

In Taraz, they have long been able to make leather and paint in different colors, mastered the technique of embossing, patterned sewing on leather. Dyes were obtained from plants and various minerals that were mined locally. The main plant from which yellow, brown, orange, red, burgundy, purple and other dyes were obtained was madder and its roots. To obtain, for example, a saturated yellow dye, a large number of roots were boiled in a special solution of alum. Many craftswomen added mutton fat to the solution for the stability of the paint.


Artistic embroidery

Embroidery is one of the main and favorite female activities and one of the most popular types of needlework in the world. This is due to many reasons, among which one can note the simplicity of its execution and the beauty of the finished product. For their dowry and wedding gifts, the girls embroidered a large number of products. The secrets of craftsmanship and various techniques of embroidery were learned by girls through ancient towels embroidered and decorated by their ancestors, so even in the XIX century, archaic motifs associated with pagan beliefs and religious beliefs of the people were found in ornaments. Possession of the art of embroidery, passed down from generation to generation, was a means of labor education, a school of skill that determined the prestige of a girl in a rural community.



One of the types of crafts of Kazakh women is weaving (carpets, decoration of the yurt). There are two types of carpet – pile carpets and short-haired carpets. In the southern regions, carpets with pile were woven mainly. They were woven by hand from the wool of sheep, goats, camels, as well as from cotton, silk, linen, and kendir threads. The pile of the hand-made carpet was woven by using threads of different colors for each field. Small patterns, if necessary, were applied to only one field. They are often two-layered, sometimes oneand-a-half-layered, the tips of which were brought to the surface and cut off depending on the required length.



The cult material of nomadic peoples - felt, has become one of the most relevant and modern today. It fits perfectly into any environment. It is eco-friendly, simple, plastic, multifunctional. Things from it are made by hand and carry the warmth of hands. The history of felting goes far back into the centuries. People were born and died on felt, dressed in felt clothes, covered horses with felt blankets. Felt, according to traditional beliefs, protected from evil spirits and enemy forces, saved from heat and cold. Taraz modern felting is based on the experience accumulated over many centuries, actively using the creative achievements of many generations. Today, Taraz felt masters use all known techniques of making felt and invent new ones. Fashion includes felt accessories and felt jewelry, clothing, felt paintings and toys, souvenirs and interior items. Unexpected combinations of felt with ceramics,

metal, glass become real finds.





3. Utilitarian, decorative and/or ritual use of the crafts

Today, handicrafts of Taraz craftsmen are used for three purposes. Consumer goods mainly include household items, clothing, tools, etc. Decorative items as artistic or design works for interior or exterior decoration, gifts and souvenirs. Ceremonial items used for weddings, funerals and religious purposes.


4. Where is the craft made? For example, workshops, artisan’s houses, museums, studios, etc.

In Taraz there is a significant number of artisans who lead an independent economy and make products to order. The main number of artisans work in a workshop in their own yard, as well as in laboratories and workshops in educational institutions (colleges,schools).

There are artisans with ample opportunities who have separate workshops. The workshops have various equipment, machines that facilitate the work and accelerate the production process, without depriving the results of such work of the individuality and creative message of the master. Also, for novice artisans, the local executive body provides premises on a free basis.

In order to support the development of handicrafts as small and medium-sized businesses, there are state programs of preferential lending: «Business Roadmap-2025», «Economy of simple things», «Enbek», etc.


5. What raw materials are used, how they are produced and what are the production technologies?

The region has a rich supply of raw materials: wool, clay and wood. Agricultural production occupies the 2nd place in the structure of the gross regional product of the region. In all 10 districts of the region there are a large number of farms that breed all kinds of livestock. This gives a sufficient, even excessive amount of wool. In 2021, wool production in the region amounted to 150 tons. In the city of Taraz, «The Factory POSH –Taraz» LLP operates. At this enterprise primary processing of wool, processing of the washed wool, production of TOPS, yarn is made. The factory was built in 1961, and the production of tops was launched in the second half of 2010. The design capacity is 873.6 tons per year. Zhambyl land is rich in clay deposits of different varieties and artisans can get it themselves.


6. Markets – who buys products from a craftman?

Are they sold at retail locations, museums, shops, traditional markets or boutiques?

First of all, handicrafts are produced to meet the daily needs o the population. Handicrafts are sold in all markets of the city, as well as in special shops and boutiques of shopping centers. There are special trading places on the territory of the ethno-cultural complex «Kone Taraz», where artisans are given the opportunity to carry out free trade on a permanent, free basis. In addition, there is a lot of state support for those who want to participate in the exhibitions of artisans in Taraz, other regions of Kazakhstan and international exhibitions with trips to foreign countries. The best products and products of artisans of the region are exhibited in the regional Museum of local lore. Handicraft and souvenir kiosks, and somewhere there are shops at train stations and at Taraz airport.


7. Statistics on Artisans – traditional training, studio crafts, etc.

The subjects of handicraft activity include 200 - 230 individual entrepreneurs and 50 - 60 small enterprises or more than 2% of the total number of small businesses in the region. The Association of artisans is functioning. In educational institutions of the region, artistic and professional education is provided in some specialties (stonecutter, jeweler, tapestry specialist, artist - teacher of folk crafts, etc.). More than 10 masters are trained. 30% of handicrafts are made entirely by hand, 70% with the help of additional tools. You can find products of a different nature aesthetic, artistic, creative, decorative, functional, traditional. The bulk (number) of products reflect cultural identity, some have religious, social symbols, etc.



8. Trade in handicrafts

Recently, the handicraft sector in Taraz has been of increasing importance for economic development. Opportunities for the sale of handicrafts are expanding, which contributes to the establishment of stable incomes of the population.

In addition to the «classic» souvenir shops, there are several existing systems of sales of artisans' products – through showcases in tourist accommodation (hotels, guest houses, etc.); permanent exhibitions and sales in cultural institutions - houses of culture, art schools, ethnocentres; direct sales of artisans to tourists (made to order); Internet sales; as well as craft fairs organized by the Mayor's office of the region on holidays. Also, in a number of tourist places, such as the mausoleum «Aisha Bibi», «Karakhan», the ethnocultural center «Kone Taraz», a system of direct sales of artisans of their products to tourists has developed.

Approximately half of the artisans (51%) are focused on more traditional sales channels (by order, fairs, direct sales). About a third (31%) of artisans have successful sales experience through stores or retail outlets. About one in eight artisans uses the opportunities to sell their products via the Internet (12%; this is 19% of those who show their products on the Internet).

The demand for traditional handicrafts is high not only in domestic, but also in foreign markets. Taraz artisans annually participate in many prestigious exhibitions, including Sharjah heritage, Berlin Bazaar and others.


9. The connection of crafts with local tourism

Taraz is one of the tourist centers of Kazakhstan. There are more than 400 cultural sites in the city, and tens of thousands of tourists visit the city every year. Handicrafts are the main brand in the promotion of tourism. The international fashion week «Aspara Fashion Week» is held twice a year in Taraz. Many travel agencies offer special packages for this period. At this time, tourists will have the opportunity not only to visit the sights of the city, but also to get acquainted with crafts, music, dance, gastronomy and other ethnic traditions. For tourists, master classes are held on: felting, leather and souvenirs with Taraz symbols. Craft workshops are also open in all places for tourists to visit.


Craft education

In this sphere, more than in any other, a certain craft most often becomes a family tradition passed down from generation to generation. In this case, the master craftsman teaches his children a skill and a skill directly related to his craft in the form of individual training. Also, each craftsman in his workshop can teach several students. Thus, 15 artisans of Taraz train 150 students annually, who participate in the production process in their workshops. Students are trained by a craftsman until they themselves become masters, professionals in their field. At the same time, vocational education is an important prerequisite and an indispensable condition for the development of handicrafts in general. Therefore, in all secondary schools, special hours are allocated to the lessons according to the curriculum, where the basics of decorative and applied art and art history are taught. There are more than 15 schools of various kinds in Taraz for teaching handicrafts. They also teach to take care of the heritage of the past, cultivate diligence, the ability to appreciate and respect the experience of the best creators of beauty, contribute to the development of aesthetic and artistic taste in the younger generation. They often conduct master classes at various event events held in Taraz, in other regions of the Republic and abroad. Where in a short period of time, under the guidance of a craftsman, the participants manage to make a piece of jewelry that can be immediately used for its intended purpose. Due to the great demand for felting products, author workshops and schools have been established in the region to train women of retirement age and the younger generation of this art form.




Information about artisans

1. Statistics on artisans, for example, have they traditionally studied at school or universities; do they work in studios, etc.?

The subjects of handicraft activity include 200 - 230 individual entrepreneurs and 50 - 60 small enterprises or more than 2% of the total number of small businesses in the region. The Association of artisans is functioning. In educational institutions of the region, artistic and professional education is provided in some specialties (stonecutter, jeweler, tapestry specialist, artist - teacher of folk crafts, etc.).


2. What are the social conditions of artisans? Do they have medical care, pension rights, etc.?

All social conditions are created for artisans. Every craftsman can retire. All the rights of artisans are protected by the state.


3. What are the working conditions of the masters? What materials are used in the workshop? What are the environmental conditions in the work area, etc.?

Handicraft workshops are regularly checked by the centers of State sanitary and epidemiological supervision, fire services and the Ministry of Emergency Situations. centers, fire services and the Ministry of Emergency Situations, and appropriate penalties for violators of safety regulations are applied to violators of safety regulations. They fully comply with safety regulations and instructions. Explanations are regularly provided by local media. Separate rooms are provided for work in craft workshops, canteen and hygiene. The main work in the production process is done by manual labor, with special attention paid to the use of natural raw materials available locally, and some materials are imported from abroad. Working and study hours are set no more than 8 hours and are open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Artisans often work at home, setting their own time.



4. Is there a standard wage rate and if so, how much?

Artisans are individual entrepreneurs who receive full profit from the sale of their products. They pay monthly contributions to the State social insurance fund in the amount of the minimum wage. They also do not pay any fees and taxes.



Are there any opportunities for creative partnership?

Artisans can collaborate with other artisans across the country. Produce and sell products together. They can collaborate on art projects and open a store. There are many such masters who share their experience with each other. Just an example: felting: one can wash, dye and comb wool, another can make an artistic sketch, and others can perform high-quality technology. There are many such examples. In the end, each master puts a price on his labor and raw materials, and the final price is agreed. Partnerships are projects of intellectual cooperation with other craft cities.


To view the photos/videos of the Taraz Evaluation visit held on July 30 – August 1, 2022, Click here:

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