Armughon Handicrafts - Tajikistan
Armughon Handicrafts is the handicrafts arm of the Zerafshan Tourism Development Association (ZTDA) in the Sughd region of northern Tajikistan. ("Armughon" means "gift, a reminder of a place" in Tajiki.) Armughon was launched in 2009 with the mission of preserving, nurturing and developing local art traditions and improving the quality of life for women living in the rural areas by creating new sources of income.
In June 2013, Designer Munira Akilova of Khujand (who also has her own craft business - now known as "Munir") began to work with ZTDA. She was initially invited to do research on the traditional Tajik crafts of Suzani (embroidery), Quroq (patchwork) and carpets. Today she is the manager and designer for Armughon. Munira began her career in economics and spent 14 years as a university teacher, before she decided to leave the university and spend her time on the embroidery that she loved.
Whenever she creates a new design for Armughon, she "always tries to put a part of Zerafshan into it. It means all of [our] products should have Zerafshani ornaments/patterns." She also thinks deeply about how the product will be used, by whom and when, and then focuses on color. As she explained, "Each piece has its own meaning."
This is the process that led to the development of multiple products that have received the UNESCO Award of Excellence for Craft, as well as numerous other awards and recognition at national and international exhibitions. In 2018, Armughon received a regional award for the Best New Product in the Sughd Region.
Today, Armughon provides handicraft work for approximately 25 women in several rural villages and surrounding areas. They receive regular training and master classes to improve their technical skills and learn design and business principles.