50 Amazing Female Artists of Central Asia

50 Amazing Female Artists of Central Asia

Happy International Women’s Day! 

March 8, 2024

This holiday celebrates the accomplishments of women around the world, encourages action to educate and raise awareness about women's equality, and calls for positive change advancing women.

This year’s theme is “Inspire Inclusion":

Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that's diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women's equality. Collectively we can all #InspireInclusion.

This is a work of the US Government and is not subject to copyright protection in the United States. Foreign copyrights may apply.

I couldn’t think of a better way for HoonArts to celebrate the contributions of women today than to share the Lookbook of Central Asian Women Artisans, a collaboration developed by several US government agencies, including the Smithsonian Institute. The Lookbook was originally published in December 2023.

As the Introduction explains:

The "Lookbook of Central Asian Women Artisans" represents a collaboration between the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Smithsonian Institution (SI), and the United States Department of Commerce’s Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP). This initiative was designed to uplift the talented and skilled women artisans of Central Asia, showcase their remarkable craftsmanship to the world and expand their commercial opportunities. In rural regions, women and their families not only contribute to household incomes but also stand as guardians of local, national, and regional history and cultural legacy. These women are the custodians of age-old traditions, including the intricate arts of carpet and textile weaving, embroidery, silk production, wood carving, metalworking, ceramics, and jewelry making, among other handicrafts. For generations, these crafts have been a source of beauty, historical significance, pride, and identity, shaping the rich heritage and traditions of the communities. With effective management and exposure to broader markets, these crafts have the power to substantially increase income, enhance education, and significantly improve the lives of rural families, especially benefiting women and girls. The "Lookbook of Central Asian Women Artisans" fosters economic independence, cultural preservation, and gender equality, marking a significant stride towards a more inclusive and prosperous Central Asia.

I was delighted, but not at all surprised, to see two of our HoonArts artistic masters featured in the Lookbook: Munira Akilova of Tajikistan (page 177) and Farzana Sharshembieva of our Kyrgyz parter, Seven Sisters (page 167).

I also recognized other artists that I have met, through my previous visits to Central Asia and/or my relationships in the region. We’ll be visiting several of these artists during our upcoming Silk Road Cultural Discovery Tour that kicks off April 21, including Nigina Ikromi of Tajikistan (page 181), Madina Kasimbaeva (page 225) and Lola Sayfi (page 235) of Uzbekistan.

I encourage you to browse the Lookbook and enjoy this visual and artistic journey to the heart of the Silk Road. These artists are working to preserve their cultural heritage and build an economic bridge to the future. Their success is an inspiration to all of us, and a beam of hope celebrating inclusion and diversity in today’s polarized world.


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