A landlocked country bordering China, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, the “land of the Tajiks” has ancient cultural roots. The people now known as the Tajiks are the Persian speakers of Central Asia, some of whose ancestors inhabited Central Asia at the dawn of history. The tradition of artistic embroidery has long been a part of Tajik culture.
In Tajikistan we are working in Khujand, one of Central Asia’s oldest cities in the north of the country. There we have partnered with a social enterprise called Ozara, who coordinate the work of a large number of embroiderers. The craft of embroidery has been passed down by women from generation to generation, and artisans are skilled in bosma and chain stitch embroidery, which is applied to furniture, clothing and decorative items.
Following independence in 1991, Tajikistan faced a series of crises, economic collapse and civil war. Today the country has high emigration, and the many men emigrating to Russia leave large numbers of women and children behind. Jobs are needed in these marginalised communities, giving people a viable alternative to migration. The EFI is now working in Tajikistan to support artisan communities and create employment.
Margilan, a city in the east of Uzbekistan, was an important stop along the ancient Silk Road. A region with a rich history of silk and cotton production, this tradition has been carried along through generations, and the city is famous for its Ikat designs. We are working with a number of communities here to build export capacity and create employment in the region.
After completing extensive research in the region, EFI has partnered with social enterprise, IkatUz, and a cooperative of independent artists. IkatUz brings together 5 masters, 9 workers and more than 50 weavers, and serves as an open platform for creating opportunities for them to introduce their products to new markets, while preserving traditional craftsmanship and cultural values. In smaller, independent workshops in Margilan we are collaborating with a cooperative of artisans to implement our social and environmental standards.
By meeting and interviewing different stakeholders, producers, artisans, designers and local authorities, the EFI team has completed an assessment of skills, materials and resources available in the region and suitable for the international lifestyle market, defined possible supply chains for textiles, interiors and accessories and identified main challenges and issues affecting trade and production.
EFI’s work in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan is funded by the European Union.