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Preserving Traditional Arts: UCA Co-Hosts Exhibition in Bishkek

The University of Central Asia’s Cultural Heritage and Humanities Unit (CHHU) со-hosted an exhibition of traditional arts in Bishkek on 20-21 March as part of the "Bashat" (Origins) international fellowship program. The program aims to promote the preservation of cultural heritage and traditional knowledge through innovative approaches.

The exhibition showcased the works of 10 young Kyrgyz artists across various fields, including digital, photo, video, craft art installations, a design collection, and film products produced within the program over the past six months. The event was attended by more than 500 people, including diplomats, journalists, and notable public and cultural figures of the country.

"This exhibition has a special and interesting format, and the content encompasses a wide range of traditional meanings, which are vividly reflected in the creative works of the fellows. It is rare to be able to see such events with a deep message, so it is very valuable and important for our modern society," – said Dinara Chochunbayeva, an expert on traditional culture sharing her impressions about the event. 

The exhibition of traditional art hosted by UCA in Bishkek. Photo by Zhanybek Mukashev.

As the exhibition coincided with the national holiday Nooruz, visitors had the opportunity to witness the process of preparing the traditional festive dish "sumolok" made from germinated grains of wheat, butter, and flour.

The exhibition concept reflected a creative understanding of traditional roots, a reflection on past and present, and a search for origins and identity. As part of this objective, the CHHU supported the project of historical reconstruction of the clothing of a 9th-century noble Kyrgyz warrior in collaboration with prominent archaeologists, historians, ethnographers, and practitioners of traditional knowledge of Kyrgyzstan. The reconstruction was carried out by young researchers and practitioners Askat Ryspaev, Janysh Botoi and Aibek Baiymbetov, a CHHU research fellow and artistic director of the program. The CHHU also supported designer-artist Yntymak Abdyldaev and his project on the philosophical meaning of "Boz" - gray color in the culture of the nomads of Central Asia.

According to the TV journalist Nazira Aaly kyzy, "the exhibition, in an unusual way immerse the viewer in an atmosphere of mystery and the search for one's own roots. You can reflect on cultural heritage in a very interesting and interactive way. We witnessed the premiere of the presentation of the armor of an ancient nomad warrior and such an exhibition should be presented to a wide audience."

Demonstration of reconstructed closing of an ancient Kyrgyz warrior. Photo by Zhanybek Mukashev.

The “Origins” is an international fellowship programme supported by the World Union of Indigenous Spiritual Practitioners (WUISP), the Arga Bilig Association, the Rural Development Fund, and the Cultural Heritage and Humanities Unit of University of Central Asia’s Graduate School of Development.