The mission of Altyn Kol is to provide income to the local felt artisans of the Kochkor Region and thus carry on Kyrgyz culture and traditions for generations to come.
For many years in Kyrgyzstan, shyrdak production was traditionally for household use. A large, ornate shyrdak was the pride of a household, but in the past few decades, the traditional method of shyrdak making began to become lost among the younger generations of women.
That was until the winter of 1996, when a group of women in the Naryn Oblast of Kyrgyzstan realized that making traditional carpets could become a viable method for creating jobs and income for women in the rural areas of the region. These women had the needed skills and they had the will to work hard, but they lacked business and marketing experience. So that spring, the group began receiving assistance and training from the Helvetas Agro-project, the predecessor of the Rural Advisory Services in Naryn.
Soon they had their first sales exhibition and they had a terrific response from clients in Bishkek. Their feedback encouraged the group to introduce new colors and patterns into their repertoire, as well as emphasizing the need for quality management in production. These adjustments led to increased sales in the bi-annual exhibitions, and in the summer of 1997, the group produced 100 small shyrdaks for export, confirming that a market for their goods existed outside of Kyrgyzstan.
Encouraged by their success, the women set about improving their skills. In the autumn of 1997, more than 100 women attended sewing training in Kochkor. As the group grew, and the members increased their skill, it became clear that a formal organization was necessary. In the spring of 1998, more than 200 women formed Altyn Kol, an NGO with the aim of generating income by producing and selling felt carpets and defending the interests of private felt carpet producers.
In 2009, Altyn Kol changed its status to a formal cooperative.
Below: Svetgul Akmotova, Director of Altyn Kol. Was a teacher, she is married, born in Kochkor, married, 4 kids, and has been to the US and Switzerland on business exchange programs.
Below: Mairam Omurzakova, AK distribution and logistics manager. Was a chemistry teacher, born in Kochkor, married, 6 children and she has been to the US
Below is Ypol Malchieva, Altyn Kol accountant manager. Born in Kochkor, married, 4 children.
Below: Gulmira Chonbagysheva: AK trade and design specialist. Born in kochkor, married, 3 sons.
Below: Burul Jakypova: AK accountant and handicraft expert; Burul manages all orders for AK, so you will most likely be talking to her when you email us! Born in Kochkor.
Below: Dinara Nurmanbetova AK English and customer service specialist and she manages the AK retail outlet. Born in Kochkor, married, 1 son.
While Altyn Kol produces many handmade, felt products, we are most famous for our shyrdaks.
Shyrdaks are the traditional Kyrgyz felt carpet. They are all handmade, from the shearing of the sheep until the final stitches are sewn into the felt.
Each shyrdak produced by Altyn Kol is unique. Each shyrdak is designed and prepared individually, using the indigenous knowledge Kyrgyz of patterns, symbols, coloring and sewing techniques. When making a shyrdak, the women act together, keeping shyrdak production as a social and economic role in their lives.
We hope that you appreciate the individual care and effort that has been put into your shyrdak. To learn more about the process of making shyrdaks, please visit our page Sheep to Shyrdaks.
Altyn Kol has also been featured in the Saudi Aramco Magazine…
The women of Altyn Kol invite you to visit their places of production throughout the Naryn Oblast of Kyrgyzstan. Each summer they provide many opportunities to those traveling in our country to learn how they might also create their own unique memory of Kyrgyzstan in the form of a shyrdak.
If you are traveling to Kyrgyzstan and to Kochkor, please do not hesitate to contact us about a visit or a shyrdak demonstration.
Read more about Kyrgyzstan, its history, and its people, with these links:
Directions To Altyn Kol Office in Kochor
Altyn Kol is located next to Kochor branch of Community Based Tourism (CBT), which is a 3 minute walk from the center of Kochkor.
Upon arriving in Kochkor, you will disembark at the taxi stand near the bazaar. Walk east on the main road (towards Bishkek/Balykchy; away from Naryn/Song Kol) until you arrive at the first left-hand street, this is Pioneerskaya Street. Turn onto this street.
You will walk about 50 meters and see the sign for Altyn Kol, our showroom is to the rear of the building.
In Kochkor, the most common form of accommodation is in a home-stay. There are currently 3 agencies which arrange for home-stays in Kochkor.
CBT Kochkor: www.cbtkochkor.com