Kazakh craftswomen of Mongolia's ‘rich cradle’

An exhibition on craftswomen and their textiles


This exhibition focuses on Kazakh craftswomen living in the Altai Mountains of western Mongolia and their textiles. The aim of the exhibition is to bring to life the craftswomen behind the artefacts, the everyday lives of which these crafts are part, and the skills and processes involved in their production.

Kazakh textiles, and photographic and video material from the area are displayed. A furnished yurt shows the home environment for which these textiles are made and which in turn works as a source of inspiration for craftswomen in their daily lives.

The Kazakhs form the largest minority in Mongolia and live mainly in the western-most province of Bayan-Ölgii, meaning ‘Rich Cradle’ in Mongolian. Most Kazakhs in this remote, mountainous region are dependent on domestic animals for their livelihood. Many move up to several times a year with their herds between fixed seasonal settlements. Other families with smaller herds stay closer to their winter house during the summer but will nevertheless set up a yurt (kiiz yi, meaning ‘felt house’).

The summertime yurt (and to a lesser extent the winter house) is richly furnished with embroidered, felt and woven textiles. These textiles are made of a mixture of raw materials derived from local herds (for instance sheep’s wool and camel hair), but also integrate new  materials, colours and designs. New tools and techniques are also developed by the craftswomen, resulting in changing styles and fashions in textile production. The exhibition focuses on these craftswomen, painting a picture of their creative practices and lives.


Brunei Gallery, SOAS

Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H oXG

09 July - 19 September 2009

More information about the exhibition and associated events is available from the Brunei Gallery website

or from the curator.