babouche wool slippersby Gulnara Kydyrmyshova
- the story
Treat your tootsies to the comfort and beauty of the remarkable craftsmanship of artisans working a world away. These unique slippers are made by Kyrgyz tailors through the aid of Gulnara Kydyrmyshova, an entrepreneurial local artisan who has helped revive and bring attention to the distinctive handicraft of this recently-independent nation and its people. Each snuggly but firm pair features a traditional Kyrgyz design rendered intricately in vibrant thread and soft felt made from wool shorn from local sheep. The slipper's toes are turned up because the Kyrgyz believe that we should always respect the planet, and thus, not directly step on it. Perfectly suited for brief strolls as well as extended lounges around the house, the woolen material absorbs moisture and odor as it keeps feet dry and warm. Plus, when slipped on bare feet, the friction created from the wool improves blood circulation, and the lanolin in the fabric soothes aching muscle and joints. Handmade in Kyrgyzstan.
- Item ID
- Made from
- vinyl, wool
- See below for measurements.
- Sizing: Small = Men's 9-10; Medium = Men's 11-12; Large = Men's 12-13
Care: Clean with damp cloth, air dry
- the maker
Gulnara Kydyrmyshova is the Director of 'Kork, Fiber Art Group.' In 1991 when Kyrgyzstan became an independent country most of Kyrgyzstan's talented artists fled to the more creative cities of Moscow or Bishkek, the captial of Kyrgyzstan. However, Kydyrmyshova had to stay behind in Karakol, a fairly unknown city in Eastern Kyrgyzstan. A specially-trained artist under the Soviet Union, Kydyrmyshova was commissioned for many projects reflecting the ideology and nature of the Union. Post independence Kydyrmyshova established a small retail store called 'Kork,’ meaning vision in the Kyrygz language. Kyrdyrmyshova’s vision was to revive Kyrgyz craftsmanship and help relieve her nation of poverty through the trade of handmade felted works. For about twelve years she supported local craftsmanship by selling felted handicrafts in her store. She also conducted free sewing classes to unemployed women in her community.
Around 2003 Kydyrmyshova wanted to expand the reach of Kyrgyz felted handicrafts and with members of her family began to participate in regional and national exhibitions. From 2003 to 2008 she would attend festivals and exhibitions in Turkey, Germany, Canada, and Russia.
Little by little Kydyrmyshova’s vision of reviving Kyrgyz craftsmanship was becoming a reality. In 2011 Kydyrmyshova connected with Peace Corps Volunteer Andrew Kuschner, and together Kuschner and Kydyrmyshova worked together to bring Kyrgyz handicrafts to the American market. Through their work together they have been able to bring stable work to over twenty artisans and create an interest in the revival of traditional craftsmanship amongst the local population.
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