I didn't know it at the time, my travel to Osh was life changing. More about this some other time. When Kamila (dressed in red and the U.S. Embassy employee assigned to escort me) asked if I want to meet some artists, I did not hesitate to say "yes!" We traveled to a village outside of Osh to this couple's home (Sorry I have searched for my notes which I cannot find because I do not remember their names.And while I feel names are important, I'm not sure it is vital to this story.) on what could barely be called roads. I marveled that our town car did not break an axle. A Texas rodeo was going to travel around Kyrgyzstan and Condalisa Rice had commissioned this couple to create Kyrgyz cowboy hats for the American cowboys to wear. I wanted one badly but there was none to be had.
The Kyrgyz people were once nomads and the horse is revered. I should also add that the Kyrgyz people feel that they have a close relationship with Native Americans. Many feel they are related and don't understand that there are actually more than 500 different tribes living in the U.S.
Anyway, the couple works closely together. They card the wool, create the felt by hand, cut felt into the pieces for hats then sews them together on treadle sewing machines. They did not speak English. To be honest, they had little interest in me and yet answered all my questions politely. I was fed as a guest of honor and blessed Allah for the meal as the couple was Muslim. I did not get to meet their children because they were in school. Both of their faces lit up when they talked about their two children who also help with the family business. They took great pride in their work. I was told that they are known throughout their country as one of the best felt makers. They make their living for the most part by making traditional Kyrgyz hats for men. I'll share more soon.