Day 1…Tour of TUMAR production

super standards in cleaning wool pre production

Understanding Tumar production…including videos and images.

I resisted sleep upon my early arrival and Kalmbar our driver for the week and the lovely TUMAR marketing woman Zhazgul (image right) picked me up late morning to take me to TUMAR production. We had set a pre schedule for the trip and today was to be one filled with the production tour and discussion with Chinara, Roza (image left) and Vladimir the last maker. I did not realise then how important Zhazgul would be not just as a language interpreter as Russian was the common tongue but as someone to educate me on TUMAR and Kyrgyzstan.

Roza and Zhazgul

TUMAR employs around 200 people. Production is set in around a courtyard full of creative activities. Along with the felt production is ceramics, cobblers for the slippers and innovation making including new design shrydaks and ala-kiyiz rugs, bags and home-wares. TUMAR Offices are off production site on the edge of the busy Osh Market. The building TUMAR offices are in was, when Kyrgyzstan was part of the Soviet Union, a Union supported centre for craftsman and artisans. The Soviets also aided in the regulation of trade between neighbouring countries. Since Kyrgyz independence in 1991, these artist and craftspeople have transferred to a more privatised model. I have immense respect for Chinara’s business vision and art direction for TUMAR. Herself, she comes from a family of felt making shrydaks and in committed to preserve the traditional skills in Central Asia.

The people who work at TUMAR and Chinara’s openness, creativity, commitment to the Central Asia crafts combined with her economic understanding and push for high quality standards, I believe is what makes TUMAR very special.

High standards are at the start of the production tour. Kyrgyz supplied ‘clean’ wool is cleaned again to bring the standards up to TUMAR expectation.

After ‘cleaning’ the wool is combed. This machine arranges the fibres and removes the shorter fibres so the fibres are longer therefore making better ‘tangles’ making the wool ultimately stronger.

From here the combed wool selected for longer fibres is laid up evenly…

For felt slippers and rolled felt products this prepared felt is used.

If making felt sheets, the wool is evenly laid up fibres are needle punched to make the felt sheets used for shrydaks rugs and sheet felt products.

From here the wool can be dyed. If small batches it might be boiled in pan or if larger a washing machine drum will be used. Dye can be natural with teas or synthetic to match a pantone colour.



Tumar Shop - Bishkek

Art group TUMAR,

was established in 1998 to preserve and develop the material culture of the Kyrgyz people through the creation and promotion of a modern, functional and high-quality craft products based on environmentally friendly, traditional and new technologies of production.

The company based in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan), where more than 200 artists on felt, textiles and ceramics work. Art group TUMAR working closely with design studios and designers in the creation of their products. The combination of different techniques and styles, the use of natural materials, mostly felt, are the basis for the author’s implementation of creative ideas of artists and craftsmen.

TUMAR was started by the clever Chinara who directs the company. Roza Makashovna is the felt master and innovator and has been here from the start. And Chinara’s brother, the engineer, designs and customises machines to make the production run efficiently. May I note, even the German felt makers we impressed with TUMAR’s felting tables production solutions!


slatted wood felting tables, soap, wool, patterns
TuMar felting tables - Water running through hardwood slats, caught into funnel under felting tables to disposal or reused when applicable

Tumar is a unique place, bridging the gap between new worlds and old, useful ways of making goods. Where craft was and is innovation.

As we face pressing sustainable solutions it is important to remember what we (collectively) already know about how to use our materials and resources with respect and efficiency. And this is what TUMAR is all about, evidenced in the refuse of bathtubs as sinks in the felting rooms and the beautiful felting tables with quality local hardwood  slatted over a big belly funnel so water runs into buckets to be reused as needed, I could go on….

I feel TUMAR sits full circle close to the biofabication communities.

But there is a difference, TUMAR because their circumstances, quest, energy and intelligence have stayed connected to the land, to their vernacular. In turn this has kept alive a kind of spiritualism, respect and belief. Fitting the name has historical, nomadic significance…

leather tumar


TUMAR is a triangular-shaped amulet made ​​of leather or felt, worn on the chest, which was sutured amulets, protecting the owner and blessing for many years. Our dream is that the art created by the people lived and prospered, and the products were stored not only the historical memory of the people, but also were “Tumar” for everyone. 


Tumar, Liz Ciokajlo, Arts Council and Liliya Serazetdinova

Valley of Unicorns in Kyrgzstan

A collaborative footwear project with focus on Kyrgyz material culture

between Art Group Tumar and Liz Ciokajlo, facilitated by Liliya Serazetdinova funds granted by The British Council and Arts Council England Artist’s International Development Fund.

The Aim of the Project…

is to develop a new prototype of footwear made from felt informed by traditional felt manufacturing methods used in Kyrgyzstan for contemporary design and performance requirements in Western Europe.  In other words learn about traditional Kyrgyz nomadic material culture and translate this approach for woman’s lifestyle shoes in the UK.