Textile Museum Associates of Southern California
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"The Kazakhs and Their Traditional Textiles, Ornaments and Worldview"
with Dr. Alma Kunanbaeva,
Professor of Anthropology, Stanford University

         The Kazakhs are a distinct population, now occupying the largest of the "stans" of the former Soviet Union in Central Asia, Kazakhstan. Formerly a nomadic people, their history goes back to before the Mongol invasion of Genghis Khan. The "ornament," or symbol of the Kazakhs can be found on every item of the traditional household, and the function and meaning of this ornament are far beyond its decorative purpose. The idiosyncratic symbolism and sacred meaning of its elements can be read as a philosophical dictionary; they follow specific rules of grammar and syntax. Professor Kunanbaeva will try to reveal the cultural code of Kazakh ornament on traditional textiles, including felts, carpets, trappings and costumes.
        
        Dr. Alma Kunanbaeva is a cultural anthropologist and ethnomusicologist specializing in Central Asia. A native of Kazakhstan, she earned a Ph.D in St. Petersburg,  Russia. She is an author of numerous articles and dozens of entries in Kazakh, Russian, British, and American encyclopedias, and her book "The Soul of Kazakhstan," was published by the Exxon Mobil Corporation in 2001. In Russia she was the Chairperson of the Research Department of Ethnography of the Peoples of Central Asia and the Caucasus, at the State Ethnographic Museum of the Peoples of the former USSR in what was then - Leningrad. Since 1993, she has been teaching in various American universities. Presently she is Visiting Professor in Anthropology at Stanford University, teaching such courses as "Nomads of Eurasia," "Folklore, Mythology, and Islam in Central Asia" as well as Kazakh and Uzbek languages. Since November 2006 she has been president of the Silk Road House- a pioneering nonprofit Cultural and Educational Center in Berkeley.

 


 

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