The history of ikat atlas and adras-making technologies in the territory of modern-day Uzbekistan dates back to the Late Antique Period. Historically, Margilan was the centre for making atlas and adras – vivid and fine traditional fabrics. Traditional crafts went through turbulent times during the Soviet period, jeopardizing some ancient handmade production technologies. Due to the acute need to revive and safeguard traditions at risk of disappearing, the local community came up with an initiative to launch the Crafts Development Centre (CDC) in 2007. The CDC’s goal is to safeguard, develop and promote the method of Uzbek traditional atlas and adras making through innovative training sessions, exhibitions and craft fairs, traditional textile festivals, and the publication of safeguarding materials and manuals. The CDC also promotes the use of natural materials, and supports the transmission of knowledge and skills about nature and the universe and their role in ensuring people’s health and wellbeing. The CDC’s success stems from its focus on a spirit of partnership, and the local communities play a key role in its initiatives since there is a common understanding that atlas and adras fabrics are central to their identity.
Margilan Crafts Development Centre mainly operates at the national level, Ikat craftsmanship is also promoted at the international level through such activities as exhibitions, craft fairs and international festivals. Moreover, the Centre also connects craftspeople with art connoisseurs, fashion designers and markets in general, thereby ensuring their promotion both nationwide and internationally.
The Centre’s mission includes: safeguarding traditional atlas and adras-making as a practice of intangible cultural heritage; ensuring respect for this element of cultural heritage and its bearers; raising awareness about its importance; and promoting respect for diversity and human creativity. It also encourages sustainable development based on heritage values that boost self-employment and the generation of income, as well as the inclusion of youth.
The Crafts Development Centre has established professional relations with craft workshops across the country. Moreover, the masters of the CDC visit foreign countries and eagerly transmit their knowledge and organize master classes and training activities, such as the workshops held in Kabul and Issikul and other related events in India, the USA, South Korea, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The practice is also disseminated through festivals, exhibitions and craft fairs.
The CDC has developed within a context of social transition and has addressed many issues that are often pertinent to developing countries. The project can be considered as a model for social entrepreneurship, such as in light of the inclusion of youth, assistance for vulnerable groups, the revitalization of cultural heritage and sustainable development.
In 2017 December, Margilan Crafts Development Centre, safeguarding of the atlas and adras making traditional technologies have been included in UNESCO’s Register of Good Safeguarding Practices. This decision was made during the meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Jeju, South Korea.
Margilan Crafts Development Centre are fully in line with the Ethical Principles for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage.