Name of Product: Silk and Felt Scarf
Product Type: Handicraft
MP Region: Central Asia
Country of origin: Kyrgyz Republic
Name of the Mountain Area: Kulanak, Kara-Too Mountains, Naryn Region
Altitude Range: Class 4: elevation 1 500-2 500 m and slope ≥ 2
Narrative label: This Silk & Felt Scarf is handmade by a group of Kyrgyz mountain women. Finely decorated, their scarves are entirely composed of local sheep’s wool and handwoven silk. Scarves are often gifted to thank hosts and relatives for an invite.

The Agency of Development Initiatives (ADI) is a network of community-based organizations. ADI supports its members in getting access to economic resources and in running effective income-generating activities in rural areas. Its Bai El Self-Help Group is composed of 10 women that prepare felt crafts. They work in challenging conditions but look ahead optimistically, appreciating the teamwork and the opportunities this activity creates to better support their families.

Felt and silk are seamlessly fused using a traditional technique called ‘wet felting’ that has been handed down over centuries by Kyrgyz mountain peoples. The fibres are merged by pressing the wet wool on the silk and shrinking it to the desired shape. Being non-woven, felt can be shaped as easily as wet clay. The scarves are coloured using natural dyes made from mountain herbs and flowers, walnut, onion, currant, sea buckthorn and pomegranate skin.

This scarf contains sheep’s wool and woven silk. The sheep’s wool comes from the mountainous Naryn Region of the Kyrgyz Republic from the village of Kulanak, which means white onager in Kyrgyz, in memory of the wild animal who once used to inhabit the area. Kulanak is located at 2 000 metres at the foot of the Kara-Too Mountains. The woven silk is from Margilan, a city in Fergana Valley in the Uzbek Republic.

Kyrgyz artisans have roots in a nomadic mountain tribal culture that has a long tradition of felt making. Crafting felt decorations on scarves keeps their history and cultural heritage alive.
Producer: Bai El Self-Help Group, a member of the Agency of Development Initiatives (ADI)
Contact person: Aida Jamangulova; [email protected]
Labelled since: 21.11.2016
Label latest verification: 21.11.2016
Type of producer: Cooperative, Women association
Smallholder: yes
Size of company: 11-20 people
Distribution channel: Export, Intermediary, Local market
Traditional product/production: Yes, the scarves are produced using a traditional technique called ‘wet felting’ that has been handed down over centuries by Kyrgyz mountain peoples.
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