Archive for November 5, 2007

Kazakhstan History Museum in Almaty

History museum in Almaty Yesterday I walked down the hill two blocks to the Kazakhstan Historical Museum. I paid 100 tenge so that I could look at the Pakistan handicrafts.  I first veered off into the direction of carpets and furniture but nothing recognizable there of handicrafts.  Then I went to the third floor and looked at the contemporary paintings by Uighurs and other artists. 

In the south wing of the museum I saw all the ethnic costumes or artifacts from many nations represented in Kazakhstan (supposedly there are 120 of them).  What I remember seeing in the different large glassed cubes was memorabilia and costumes from Japan, Korea, Tartars, Uzbek, German, Belorussia, China, Jews, Poland and finally Russia was next to Ukraine.  What interested me was that Ukraine’s exhibit was half the size of Russia and didn’t show any of the native dress but Russia’s did.  Obviously there is more ground to cover with Russia but my sympathies lie with Ukraine, of course. 

I went to the other north wing of the museum where it showed as you entered the independence date of Kazakhstan from 1991 up to the present.  Many President Nazarbaiev photos were showcased in the different glassed booths with many countries giving a ceremonial kind of gift.  Russia gave a gift of a lacquer plate while France had on exhibit a glass carved eagle, China gifted Kazakhstan with a beautiful ceramic vase.  Seemed that each country gave a gift which represented their country’s image, so I looked to see what the U.S. might have given to the young, fledgling nation in 1991.  However, I only found a letter from President Clinton which was written in 1995 concerning the current ambassador at that time, seems that William Courtney was stepping down. (Ken and I early in our courtship had been invited to his home for dinner in 1993 or 1994).  What I thought was so amusing was that Clinton’s letter was right next to a letter of congratulations signed by Fidel Castro. 

A booth displayed the cosmonaut feats and about medical and other things that was more in keeping to Kazakhstan’s contemporary history.  In the inner sanctum of this wing was an area dedicated to poets and authors from Kazakhstan, as near as I could tell. After seeing all the third floor I went to the second floor front wing that was difficult to get to but showed the old costumes of brides and grooms of the nomadic lifestyle. They also showed the inside of a yurt with the brightly colored felt rugs and wall hangings.  Everything that was in a yurt served a function for existing on the steppes.  I remember when I was in Russia in 1976, I bought a black piece (about 5’ x 3’) with brightly colored threads in floral patterns, little realizing that I was buying something that was NOT Russian but rather Central Asian! 

Finally, I went to the basement of the museum and looked at the displays of dinosaur bones and some stone age kind of artifacts.  A Soviet rendering of evolution was quickly walked through by me, how boring.  Everything about this part of the museum seemed to have a 1960s, Soviet feel of architecture from the banisters of the stairs to the wall mountings.  Of course, everything mostly was in Russian with some Kazakh translations.  English was sprinkled throughout these exhibits so it was good practice my Russian reading skills,

 Since I’m interested in rocks, I looked at the display of pretty minerals and rocks and was sounding out the words when I came across K-W-arts…ah, yes “quartz.”  It looked like it so then I peered at the rock samples more closely to see if I could find jade and other rocks that are familiar to me.  But after two hours of being inside the museum, I was ready to experience what was left of a beautiful autumn day.  I was about to leave feeling like I had seen a wide array of exhibits but hadn’t seen the Pakistani handiwork yet.  I went to ask the lady who had sold me the admission ticket and she pointed to the first place I had gone to, it was all about carpets and rugs from Pakistan.  Of course, I had been expecting to see dainty needlework and hand work like what I found at the market the other day. 

I then took a bus to the Green Market and found the fitted sheet and top sheet with pillow cases for our queen size bed.  What a good day it was on my adventure in the city of Almaty.

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Carl Larsson art and unknown handwork

second handworkDining RoomI found this elaborate handwork at one of the second hand stores here in Almaty for under one dollar.  It has the tiny initials T.F. stitched in a corner.  After a washing it looks pretty enough to put under glass except for a few places that need mending on the fringe edgings.  I have put about six Carl Larsson prints under glass and will maybe mat two more today.  It really dresses up our living quarters.  The one on the left is appropriately hung in the “Dining Room.”  That is what it is called and the one on the right is titled “The Evening Meal” with two little girls eating their soup.  Larsson was a Swedish artist from the turn of the 20th century and was born dirt poor in Stockholm.  His artwork elevated him to prominence.  The stitching done by T.F. will never be found out but I’d like to know what kind of handiwork this is, similar to Hardanger stitching

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