A Thank You Letter to Usto Sodiq, Master Carver from Tajikistan

A Thank You Letter to Usto Sodiq, Master Carver from Tajikistan

Continuing our theme of gratitude this holiday season, today I want to express my heartfelt thanks to Usto (Master) Sodiq Zaripov of Istaravshan, Tajikistan. Usto Sodiq was also one of the initial HoonArts artisans who continues to partner with us across 12 time zones.

Dear Usto Sadiq,

Thank you for being a part of HoonArts from the very beginning, perhaps without even realizing it. Here’s an incomplete list of the many aspects of our collaboration that have helped HoonArts to survive and thrive in the world.

  1. Thank you for sending some of your beautiful hand carved combs in the very first shipment of products from Tajikistan at the end of 2014. That was the beginning of an inspiring relationship for me, and an educational adventure for the HoonArts community.

    A couple of our very first combs from Usto Sodiq, received in November 2014

  2. Thank you for trusting Bakhriddin Isamutdinov and me to handle every shipment over the years, sending them on a long and winding journey to the other side of the globe. First you put your lovely creations into a taxi to send them to Bakhriddin in Dushanbe (even in the dead of winter, like the year the taxi driver was trapped on the highway for 24 hours due to an avalance). When the products arrive in Dushanbe, Bahkriddin retrieves them, sorts them, creates an invoice, packs and arranges to send them to New York, where they are repackaged and sent on to me in Albuquerque. 

    Bakhriddin Isamutdinov (front), who inspired the creation of HoonArts in 2014 in my living room and continues to support our efforts in 2023.

  3. Thank you for always being willing to experiment with new ideas and new products:

    (a) Hair barrettes – both clip and "stick" barrettes--working only from Amazon photos of the general types of barrettes I wanted.

    (b) Business card holders

    (c) Jewelry, both earrings and pendants.

    (d) Egyptian comb reproductions for the Penn Museum in Philadelphia, even when you were sure that the photo provided was of an "old Tajik" comb, not an Egyptian comb, proving yet again the power and reach of the Silk Road.

    (e) Wooden spoons reproduced from an artifact found at an archaeological site in Tajikistan for the UK organizer of historical reenactments.

    (f) Wooden animals that still roam the mountains of Tajikistan or journeyed through along the Silk Road.

  4. Thank you for welcoming me to your studio on my first trip to Tajikistan in October 25, 2015 -- sharing your story and introducing me to your sons.

  5. Thank you for always being willing to answer questions passed through Bakhriddin (because we don't speak a common language), no matter how confusing or silly those questions might seem.

  6. Thank you for welcoming our HoonArts tour to your home and studio in October 2023, where you generously shared your time and your stories, while demonstrating the carving of a comb before our eyes. And for introducing me to your family, including your beloved grandchildren.

  7. Thank  you for allowing us to take and share photos and videos of our meeting, so that others can appreciate your work.

  8. Thank you for continuing to work with us through periods of illness and family challenges when it would have been a lot more convenient to just say "I can't."

  9. Thank you for trusting us to share your story in a way that conveys your artistry, your passion for cultural heritage preservation, and your dignity in good times and difficult times.

  10. Thank you for the work you do to pass on your skills to the next generation – your sons as well as other students, so that your artistry is not lost to time.

  11. Thank you for being mindful of preserving and protecting the environment and only buying wood from walnut and apricot trees that have stopped producing nuts and fruit.

  12. Thank you for continuing to produce pieces of beauty for the world to enjoy.

  13. Thank you for being a long-term HoonArts partner in bringing the culture of Tajikistan to life for people around the world.

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