Yes, I’m finally back here in Central Asia! I’m not absolutely positive, but I’m pretty sure that I started talking about the idea of leading a tour way back in 2018. I know that I was displaying a Tour flyer at an event in the fall of 2019. But the pandemic intervened, so it feels like a miracle that we’re finally here on the ground in the heart of the ancient Silk Road.
The main inspiration for the tour was always the opportunity to visit our HoonArts artists and introduce tour participants to these amazing people. I wish you ALL could have come with us to enjoy this amazing adventure. But since you couldn’t, I wanted to give you a quick introduction through our weekly newsletters to the regular HoonArts master artists that we’re connecting with along the way.
Munira is a mother, a teacher, an internationally acclaimed master artist and designer, an entrepreneur, a project manager, an international consultant, a certified tour guide, and (most important to me), my “Tajik daughter.” Munira joined the Tour group as a co-guide when we began our journey in Tashkent, Uzbekistan and continued with us as we visited the majestic Silk Road cities of Bukhara and Samarkand.
If our itinerary doesn’t change, today is our last day in Samarkand. Tomorrow we head for Tajikistan, where Munira has organized all aspects of our program in Panjakent, Istaravshan and Khujand. We’ll say goodbye to Munira when we cross the border back into Uzbekistan and head for Margilan, the ikat weaving capital of Uzbekistan.
When she’s not leading tours, one of Munira’s many jobs is acting as the manager for Armughon Handicrafts, the handicraft arm of the Zerafshan Tourism Development Center. She also runs her own handicraft business known as “Munir,” and acts as consultant or manager on many other projects around Tajikistan and beyond.
Munira has participated in numerous international exhibitions, and she has won many awards for her stunning suzani embroidery. She’s also a born teacher, as those of you who have participated in some of her master classes have learned!
For more information about Munira, check out this blog article I wrote way back in 2015, entitled “Munira Akilova, Artist, Designer, Teacher, Community Leader” (and please forgive the technical glitches that happened when we shifted our blog to our new website, which caused some of the photos on that blog post to disappear). Or learn something about Munira’s design process, incorporating deep meaning and cultural significance into every embroidery pattern, in this video interview I recorded when she visited Albuquerque in April 2022.
And stay tuned for a special surprise for those of you at home. In a couple of weeks I'll be announcing an exciting and brand new opportunity to connect with Munira in a way you’ve only dreamed about before.
Two modern masters of Suzani embroidery-Munira Akilova of Tajikistan and Madina Kasimbaeva of Uzbekistan. These two lovely masters are preserving the cultural heritage of the region for future generations.
A super-size Suzani from Uzbek master Madina Kasimbaeva, three years in the making!
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