Armughon Handicrafts is the handicrafts arm of the Zerafshan Tourism Development Association (ZTDA) in Panjakent, Tajikistan, just across the border from Samarkand. ("Armughon" means "gift, a reminder of a place" in Tajik.) ZTDA works to preserve, nurture and develop local art traditions, while also improving the quality of life for women living in the Panjakenti rural areas by involving them in the local economy. ZTDA designer Munira Akilova (at left in photo) creates new products that incorporate traditional suzani (embroidery) and quroq (patchwork) techniques and traditional patterns and ornaments from the Zerafshan Valley. As she explains, "Each piece has its own meaning, [and] a part of Zerafshan." Several of her designs have received the UNESCO Award of Excellence for Craft.
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