Fatillo Kendjaev’s weaving sorcery
I like to dream, yes, yes
Right between the sound machine
On a cloud of sound I drift in the night
Any place it goes is right
Goes far, flies near
To the stars away from here
Well, you don't know what
We can find
Why don't you come with me little girl
On a magic carpet ride
Well, you don't know what
We can see
Why don't you tell your dreams to me
Fantasy will set you free
~ Magic Carpet Ride, Steppenwolf
Back in 2010, HAND/EYE traveled to Bukhara, Uzbekistan to witness the brilliant brew of natural dyes concocted by master dyer, carpet weaver, and artist Fatillo Kendjaev. Recognized and respected by textile and carpet connoisseurs worldwide, Fatillo’s magical and breathtaking carpets aren’t just pretty floor coverings, but magic carpets that will transform a room.
Raised in a family of weavers, Fatillo always had art and craft in his life. Graduating from Bukhara University with an art degree, he subsequently took his talent to teach for the next 11 years but drawing wasn’t enough for him. Wanting do more with traditional craft, he followed in his father’s footsteps as a furrier and made traditional Bukharan fur hats. Still a teacher at heart, he began to privately teach apprentices in the craft. In 1997, looking for a challenge, Fatillo embarked on a new journey—traditional Bukharan carpet weaving and natural dyeing.
Fatillo’s lushly textured silk and wool carpets are a riot of reds, oranges, blues, greens and yellows that vividly capture the 14th and 15th century medieval designs and motifs that he has adapted. To achieve the various eyepopping hues, Fatillo uses natural dyes that are sourced from yellow onion skins acquired from vegetable sellers at the market; walnut hulls collected in the mountains; madder root imported from Afghanistan and indigo and cochineal from India. The pigments are mixed in large copper pots and are used twice—the first round for creating intensely rich color needed for the carpets; the second, which is softer in tone, for suzanis. Color consistency is a constant challenge during the dyeing process. Certain ingredients deliver different color results by changes in soil, temperature, and the seasons. Dyeing typically occurs during the spring and autumn due to the region's blazing hot summers and numbing, frigid winters.
In 2001, Fatillo’s dedication to his craft was recognized by UNESCO for his research, natural dyeing process and carpet weaving projects. With that prestigious endorsement, he opened a UNESCO School of Carpet Weaving, which he led for more than 10 years. Since the school’s inception more than 250 apprentices have graduated. Apprentices who wish to continue to hone their carpet weaving and dyeing skills, but also working full-time are provided with workshops, materials, as well as a stable income while other apprentices go out on their own to establish their own workshops.
Via UNESCO’s support in 2005, Fatillo taught carpet weaving and natural dyeing to students of the craft in the Nukus, situated near the Aral Sea. This effort was part of UNESCO aid to an economically depressed area to help turn it into a viable one.
Since 2005, Fatillo has attended the International Folk Art Market for 13 consecutive years. He will be in Santa Fe showing off his wizardy from July 13-15.
For more information please visit www.folkartmarket.org