I didn’t forget you, Aziz! I just ran into the holiday flurry.
I was fortunate this year to be able to spend time with my younger daughter and her family who flew in for Christmas, as well as enjoy the beach in Southern California with my older daughter, my son and their families. Extended time with family reminded me how much the cherished people in our lives matter! It even inspired me to dub “people” my “word of the year.”
So I want to round out my year-end (and year-beginning) focus on gratitude with this letter to Aziz Murtazaev, the founder of Marikat (formerly known as Craft Studio Ikat Uz), our Uzbek ikat weaving artisan group based in Margilan, Uzbekistan. As with all of our gratitude letters, there are countless aspects of our relationship for which I am grateful. This letter just identifies just a few of the highlights over the years.
1. Thank you Aziz for welcoming me into your booth at the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market (IFAM) in July 2016, and beginning the long journey of educating me on the ikat dyeing and weaving process.
Aziz Murtazaev (Center), Rikki Quintana (right), another IFAM Volunteer (left)
2. Thank you, Aziz, for always welcoming my numerous questions over the years about the ikat production process and helping me communicate that 100-step process to the HoonArts community in a meaningful way.
3. Thank you, Aziz, for taking time out of your busy schedule soon after you founded Craft Studio IkatUz (and were understandably overwhelmed just getting your own business up and running) to take photographs of various stages of the production process so that I could put your artisan page up on the HoonArts website. I’m still using many of those same photographs to entice our fans and introduce them to this incredible artistic world.
One of my favorite images of ikat weaving from that first set of photographs Aziz provided.
4. Thank you, Aziz, for taking the time to photograph all the patterns of ikats you had in stock at a time when you didn’t have a catalogue and I didn’t know what I wanted to order.
A kaleidoscope of ikat patterns from Marikat.
5. Thank you, Aziz, for helping me understand the vocabulary of the ikat production process, and sending me new photos, so that I could write my blog on The Vocabulary of Ikats, when the pandemic was beginning to rage around the world.
6. Thank you, Aziz, for working with me to create custom colors of the “cloud weight” silk scarves and unique block-printed scarves with natural indigo dye, when my orders were small and it took an excessive amount of your own time. (By the way, I want to include some more of those beautiful block-printed indigo scarves in my next order. We’ve been out of stock for a while now.)
Block-Printed Silk Scarf, Hand-Dyed with Natural Indigo
7. Thank you, Aziz, for working with me on the first two rounds of the Silk Road Design Encounter series of live, online Zoom experiences—16 hours of live online time (plus who knows how many hours of preparation time at your end), almost all beginning at 9:00 pm your time.
I know what it took for you to add this new educational burden at a time when you were also juggling running (a) the regional World Craft Council organization during the week from Tashkent and (b) Marikat from Margilan on the weekends, as well as managing the Uzbek national crafts organization and putting together multiple national craft festivals! And I know that your share of the net proceeds from these online series was nowhere close to adequate compensation for your valuable time. But I know you did it because of our partnership and your passion for sharing the artistic heritage of Uzbekistan.
8. Thank you Aziz, for taking us into your home and your family during these online experiences, including a walk around your neighborhood during Navruz.
Live screenshot of Aziz’ family enjoying Navruz breakfast in Margilan.
9. Thank you for sharing your time and photos and slide shows to enable us to put together our blog on Tying a Cloud-Silk Ikat Weaving from Uzbekistan, which includes a short video that showcases many of the steps of the process.
10. Thank you, Aziz, for coming to meet me at the hotel in Tashkent late in the evening during our 2022 tour, just to connect and say hello, when I’m sure you would have preferred to be home spending your limited free time with your family.
Aziz (left), Rikki (center) and Munira Akilova (right).
11. Thank you, Aziz, for taking the time out of your busy day during the Dallas Market last summer to allow me to shop live over Facetime, so that I could have my order ready to go (and pulled from the products scheduled for IFAM) when you arrived in Albuquerque.
12. Thank you, Aziz, for sharing your time between the Dallas Market and IFAM last summer with me, my husband and the HoonArts community. Although we were technically the “hosts,” we felt like the guests, since you and your fellow artist Sanjar cooked traditional meals for us every night! We loved the opportunity to get to know you and Sanjar on a much more informal basis (and learn what great cooks you both are).
Enjoying authentic Uzbek plov prepared by the cooking team of Aziz & Sanjar.
13. Thank you, Aziz, for putting on a fabulous seminar on ikat weaving for textile artists and enthusiasts in Albuquerque last summer. I’m still getting rave reviews on the experience. And, as always, I learned new things myself! (HoonArts fans who didn’t get a chance to attend in person can purchase online access to the video replay for $20.)
14. Thank you, Aziz, for all you do to preserve the artistic heritage of Uzbekistan, not only through ikat weaving at Marikat, but for artisans all over the country, in all the artistic media. You are a superstar in the cultural heritage world of the Silk Road.
15. Thank you for trusting me to share your work with the HoonArts community in so many ways. I’m looking forward to seeing you when we visit Uzbekistan in the spring on our second tour. If all goes well, we’ll also be able to visit Marikat and meet your family in person during our time in Margilan!
Happy New Year!