Distinguished participants of the festival!
Ladies and gentlemen!
I am sincerely glad to welcome you in the picturesque and hospitable Ferghana Valley, in the ancient and beautiful city of Kokand.
With all my heart I congratulate all of you on the inauguration of the first International Festival of Folk Applied Arts held under UNESCO auspices.
Let me take this opportunity to express deep gratitude to the President of the World Crafts Council, Ms. Rosy Greenlees, for her participation in today’s event.
It gives me great pleasure to welcome Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation Vladimir Medinsky, Minister of Culture and Sports of the Republic of Kazakhstan Aktoty Raimkulova, Minister of Culture of Turkmenistan Atageldi Shamuradov, Minister of Culture of the Republic of Tajikistan Shamsiddin Orumbekzoda, Minister of Culture of the Republic of Azerbaijan Abulfas Garayev, Minister of Culture, Information and Tourism of the Kyrgyz Republic Azamat Jamankulov, the First Deputy Minister of Culture of the Republic of Belarus Natalia Karchevskaya, Deputy Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of the Republic of Armenia Narine Khachaturyan.
Meanwhile, for a product to turn into a work of art, a true master, whether a potter or chaser, weaver, carver or jeweler, must have the basics of knowledge in chemistry, biology, medicine, physics, geometry, astronomy, history, philosophy and other sciences, and be able to put them into practice.
Let me cite one example.
The astounding mysterious ornaments, truly divine patterns, and the unique colors of one type of our national embroidery, “suzane”, that enjoys worldwide fame, embody cosmogonic imaginations of distant ancestors.
Our people have always revered skillful artisans, genuine masters of their craft, deferentially calling them usta (master) and ustazoda (descendants of masters).
In this regard, I think it will be apt to recall the wise maxim of the outstanding thinker Bahouddin Naqshband, whose 700th anniversary we will celebrate next year. “Craft is like a fabulous ambler, on whose wings one can reach the highest levels – recognition and respect of the people”.
Naqshband was not just a great Sufi and philosopher, but also a wonderful craftsman, spiritual mentor of artisans. And today, following his covenant that said “Let your heart be with Allah and your hands – at work”, thousands of folk masters in our country, with their hard and honest labor and the best human qualities, serve as an example for many, especially the young people.
In the meantime, in this age of globalization and high technology, we, unfortunately, often encounter lack of serious attitude to this unique art, stating allegedly that it is only a relic of the distant past. If we do not support the folk arts widely, at the public level, tomorrow may be too late – handicrafts could end up unable to withstand fierce competition from serial production.
In this regard, such international forums as this one are important for the careful preservation, revival and advancement of folk crafts throughout the world, for the transfer of the traditions of artisans on to future generations, for the unification of our efforts and opportunities along this path.
In Uzbekistan, we have been fashioning essential legal foundations for the effective creative work of artisans and deserved appraisal of their job; they are granted a great deal of benefits and preferences. The Hunarmand Association, for instance, unites thousands of craftspeople and is designed to protect their rights and interests.
As a bright confirmation of the considerable significance attached to the services and merits of representatives of this sphere, the celebrated Bukhara-based master of gold embroidery Muyassar Temirova, the brilliant restorer Mirumar Asadov from Samarkand, as well as the famed woodcarver Abdugani Abdullayev from Ferghana have been rewarded with a high title of Hero of Uzbekistan.
We are creating extensive opportunities for fostering a younger generation as harmoniously advanced personalities, for them to master modern knowledge and professions as well as folk crafts. Dozens of festivals and fairs, exhibitions, contests, and handicraft schools for youth are there in the capital and provinces. Crucially, people of this industry have been making remarkable contribution to creating new jobs, attracting young people to socially significant work, and developing tourism.
Surely, we will continue to pay attention to handicrafts that reflect our history and national identity, ancient and rich traditions. Therefore, views, proposals and recommendations to be expressed during the current international festival are important to us.
It is no accident that Kokand was chosen as the venue for the International Festival of Folk Applied Arts. This ancient city, distinct with its unique flavor, is considered the pearl of the Ferghana Valley, which is called the Golden Valley that it deserves to the full.
Hukandi Latif, meaning the gentle, pleasant Kokand, wields a 2000-year glorious history and has seen plentiful great events. It is one of the brightest symbols of our national statehood, a place where science, arts and literature thrived along with a great diversity of handicrafts.
We are proud that the fertile land of Ferghana has nurtured dozens of prominent thinkers, poets and artists who have made a great input into the development of world science and culture.
They include Ahmad Fergani, Burkhonuddin Marghinani, Zahiriddin Muhammad Babur, Boborahim Mashrab, Amiri and Nodirabegim, Jahon Otin Uvaisi, Mavlono Mukimi, Zokirjon Furkat, renowned craftsmen like Kodirjon Khaidarov.
Ferghana region has long been notable for many crafts that have become national brands. I think there’s no need to talk about the world-famous Marghilan atlas and adras, shimmering with all the colors of the rainbow, as well as the unique pottery of Rishtan, along with Kokand schools of woodcarving and ganch.
Today, the image of the Ferghana region, as much as that of the entire nation, is changing, along with Kokand that has been turning into one of the comfortable places to live in Uzbekistan, major economic and cultural centers of the country.
As you may know well, another important event took place in the life of the city just ahead of this festival. The World Crafts Council has decided to list Kokand as one of the World Craft Cities. Thus we can say that Kokand has earned a solid spot on the international map of folk arts.
This wonderful town is the first in the Commonwealth of Independent States to be awarded such a status. We consider this a high international recognition of our efforts to promote decorative and applied arts in the country.
President of the World Crafts Council for the Asia Pacific, Ms. Ghada Hijjawi-Qaddumi, recently presented a corresponding certificate to the city of Kokand.
With all my heart I congratulate the esteemed residents of Kokand as well as all the craftspeople of Uzbekistan with this high acknowledgment.
Let me express, on my own behalf and that of all our people, gratefulness to the World Crafts Council and its President, distinguished Ms. Rosy Greenlees.
I believe this international festival is a great celebration for the multiethnic people of Uzbekistan as much as for artisans around the world.
This is a forum of true friendship and cooperation, which tunefully combines the distant past and present, traditions and values of diverse nations, and unites hearts close in spirit.
I feel convinced that this festival, designed to strengthen peace and harmony, to bring good and beauty to people, will certainly take its rightful place in the international cultural space.
Once again, with all my heart I welcome you all on the hospitable and gracious Uzbek land.
I convey my profound gratitude to all our compatriots, the hardworking and generous Ferghana people, residents of Kokand who have done everything necessary to make sure this culture forum is held at the highest organizational level.
I wish every participant of the festival, our esteemed guests, a sound health, happiness and new creative achievements!
Thank you for attention.