Armughon Handicrafts (Munira Akilova, Consultant and Designer) - Hand-Crafted Needlework
Armughon Handicrafts is the handicrafts arm of the Zerafshan Tourism Development Association (ZTDA) in Panjakent, Tajikistan. ("Armughon" means "gift, a reminder of a place" in Tajiki.) Supported by grants from the Soros Foundation and other international donors, ZTDA implemented projects on crafts in 2009, 2011 and 2013-2014, with the aim of preserving, nurturing and developing local art traditions and also improving the quality of life for women living in the Panjakenti rural areas by involving them in the local economy. Through these craft projects they have started to work with unemployed women from the impoverished mountain regions, and now work with several clusters of women. In June 2013, Designer Munira Akilova of Khujand (who also has her own craft business, Arinumcrafts) began to work with ZTDA. She was initially invited to do research on the traditional Tajik crafts of Suzani (embroidery), Quroq (patchwork) and carpets, and has now become the new product designer for Armughon. Munira began her career in economics and spent 14 years as a university teacher, before she decided to leave the university and spend her time on the embroidery that she loved. Whenever she creates a new design for Armughon, she "always tries to put a part of Zerafshan into it. It means all of products should have Zerafshani ornaments/patterns." She also thinks deeply about how the product will be used, by whom and when, and then focuses on color. As she explained, "Each piece has its own meaning." This is the process that led to the development of products that have received the UNESCO Award of Excellence for Craft, the small set "Tuppi" needlework ornaments modeled after traditional male and female hats (already offered by HoonArts under the Arinumcrafts brand), and the wall hanging "Marhamat" (which we plan to add to our collection). All the Armughon products are made by unemployed Panjakenti women living in the mountainous areas.
These are photos of the Panno (wall hanging in Tajiki) "Marhamat," (meaning "welcome" in Tajiki) which recently received the UNESCO Award of Excellence for Handicrafts.
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