My Central Asian Awakening

Central Asian Map
Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet Republic, is sandwiched between the Pamir and Tien Shan mountains

In April 2001, I travelled to Peshawar, North Pakistan near the border of Afghanistan. From my first step, I fell in love with the smell and sounds of Central Asia.

I couldn’t understand everything that I saw. In those days, I tripped over curbs and often almost fell into pits along the road, because I was constantly distracted by what I saw. I was intoxicated by the city of textiles, the smell of charcoal, liters of green tea, and getting no sleep because of the heat.

Over the years, I have learned how to deal with Central Asia, to cope with a completely different rhythm of life, the pace, the agreements…

I realize that the Central Asian people that I met are a different tribe to the tribe I come from.

On my first trip there was too much to be seen for me. I came back totally broke and loaded with tribal textiles such as ikat coats, dresses from Swat Valley, Afghan caps, rugs from the Beloutch. When I opened my suitcase, the smell was amazing and threw me back into the medieval streets of the Silk Road. Later back home, I realized that I did not see any women making these beautiful textiles and I missed the colorful felt carpets & rugs of Kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyzstan Landscape
Beautiful Kyrgyzstan landscape complete with 2 traditional felt rugs

So I made two decisions. The first was to open a shop and the second to organize a trip to Kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyzstan is the country sandwiched between the Pamir and Tien Shan mountains, a former Soviet Republic where you can actually meet the women who are so skilled at their craft of making by hand the beautiful traditional textiles that are the hallmark of the Shirdak Textile Gallery.

Kyrgyzstan Felt
A selection of felts from Kyrgyzstan from the Shirdak Gallery, Amsterdam

View more nomadic felts & textiles at Shirdak Online.