Sunday, March 8, 2009
Exploring a distant land
Thanks to a dear friend here on the Cape, I have a new project in which to immerse myself--once again adapting an original work of art to needlepoint. For this, a little background is definitely in order!
Kyrgystan is a country in central Asia. an entirely mountainous land slightly smaller than the state of South Dakota, with a population today of a little over 5 million people. But the first written record of the Kyrgyz tribe, nomads of central Siberia, appeared among the Chinese in 2000 BC. The tribe's history has been tumultuous, highlighted by a takeover by the Mongols--Genghis Khan's son--in the 13th century, and its annexation by the Russian Empire in 1876. It regained its independence from the USSR in 1991.
Its history is also rich in its textiles, cotton being one of its significant industries. Long known for its exquisite embroidery, the Kyrgyztani are moving away from the traditional, more personal family heirlooms--less favored by today's generation--while still maintaining a trade in felt rugs to the general public.
Luckily, there are some who cherish these traditions, including Canadians from British Columbia who are retrieving and preserving non-commercial textiles from this area. The piece I am working from is a tush kyiz, a large, elaborately embroidered wall hanging. Made by older women to commemorate the marriage of a son or daughter, the tush kyiz hung over the marriage bed as a symbol of tribal tradition. Now out of favor with the younger generation, it is no longer being made. But this fragment -- almost seven feet along-- has been preserved and mounted--gifted to my friend and on loan to me for further study.
I'm hoping to adapt this amazing work of art to needlepoint as a pillow. I've measured the motifs, compared colors with the threads in my stash, and now have a bit of calculating to do. The motif I'm planning to adapt is at the center of the complete picture and at the right in the smaller picture. Wish me luck!