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Feeling fine! International Felt Festival takes place in Kyrgyzstan’s Talas region

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« The 2nd Festival of Kyrgyz Traditional Felt Products took place at the Manas-Ordo National Historical and Ethnographic Complex in Kyrgyzstan’s Talas region on Saturday.
Footage shows women in traditional dresses weaving ala-kiyiz felt rugs by hand and on a special loom, while singing songs and displaying their work, as well as an exhibition of felt hats and shoes.
Gulmira Kasmalieva, one participant of the festival, explained that weaving a traditional rug took a great deal of time and effort, including preparing the wool before cleaning, loosening and whipping the material, and laying it out on a special straw mat.
« After all these manipulations, you can make an ala-kiyiz in one day. Now I have to pour boiling water over this [material]then roll it into a tube from one end, tie it tightly and kick the tube with my feet. After a long kicking, when the wool becomes felt, we untie it and continue working with our hands, » she explained.
Weaver Zhamby Karybekova also noted that ala-kiyiz rugs got sturdier over time.
« Any other thing breaks and ages over the years, but the kiyiz is the opposite – the more you use, the stronger, the more durable it becomes, and it lasts for many years, » Karybekova remarked.
According to Nurkan Moldobaeva, a representative of the Ministry of Culture which supports the festival, the event helped to preserve and popularise ancient traditional crafts.
« We believe that such events are necessary today, and the people need them, because many are tired of using synthetic materials. The people themselves are interested in switching to natural materials again », said Moldobaeva.
Craftsmen and designers from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia and Kyrgyzstan took part in the festival, competing for awards including the best felt carpet, the best modern pattern, and the best masterclass.
In 2012, the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee added the ala-kiyiz to the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.

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