Kyrgyz Folklore and History and Crafts come together
Gulayim Kozueva, a Kyrgyz language teacher at the Aga Khan School, Osh (AKSO), enjoys sharing her passion for Kyrgyz history and folklore with students during her after-school crafts club.
During the club meetings, Gulayim teaches knitting and sewing skills to around 15 students while weaving stories about Kyrgyzstan’s cultural history. The students leave each hour-long session with a deeper understanding of their country’s struggles, triumphs, and traditions.
“Through crafts we learn the historical facts and folk legends, [and] tales connecting the crafts with the habits, festivals, sorrows, and culture of our nation,” said Seitbekova Meerim, a grade 8 student at AKSO.
Knowledge of sewing and knitting came naturally to Gulayim, who was surrounded by these skills during her childhood. Her interest in Kyrgyz folklore and history also began when she was a child, and she is now “always in search of more stories and legends.” She said she often reads historical Kyrgyz literature in order to learn more facts and myths that she can share with her students in the crafts club.
“Students’ learning is always enriched with the legends and stories related to the history of the Kyrgyz handicraft,” explained Gulayim.
She shares these stories in creative ways, such as describing the cultural and historical meanings behind the intricate patterns of waves and flowers that the students have sewn. She explains to her students how some interpretations have “reached our time from our grandmothers through their handmade, ornate felt rugs and silk tissues.”
AKSO teachers encourage female students to attend the club because it is a cultural requirement for young Kyrgyzstani women to obtain practical skills such as sewing and knitting. It is also a unique way to pass on the country’s cultural values and traditions from generation to generation.
Once a year, the 15 students showcase and sell their hand-crafted products at a school fair. The funds collected from their creations go towards purchasing materials for exciting new crafts.