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Mirzhakyp Dulatuly
Today in history

Rare profession — the museum restorer

Rare profession — the museum restorer  - e-history.kz

This year in the museum of our country there was historical event — the National museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan was opened in Astana.

The new museum meets all international standards and very impressive. The museum’s exhibits, which are structured by the latest technology, leave impression and pride. Multimedia guides, holograms, LED-technique, media floor (under of which the real archeological excavation were recreated) and many other things — all of these admire and turn the museum visit into fantastic traveling on time. If after a campaign in the new museum you do not want to be the archeologist or historian, then for sure you will start being interested in the past of our country more.


It seems that having evolved dramatically forward, the museum shall forget the methods of restoration and saving exhibits existing earlier. However, despite how technologies were developed, nothing can replace handmade technique. Especially, when person have talent and warm heart, literally can restore things back again despite of their age.

The Center of conversation and restoration which quickly became a smithy on interaction and exchange of experience with all restoration workshops of Kazakhstan, function in the National museum. Restores of fabric, carpet and felt products, books, papers, paintings, items made of woods, skin and bone work here. Having acquainted with many of them personally, we were convinced that the restorer is one of the extraordinary, difficult, responsible and interesting professions.

Time has no mercy neither to the man, nor the subjects created by his hands. The profession of the restorer is urged to stop destructive influence of time, to save historical and cultural monuments from destruction and keep them for future generations.

Already in the Middle ages people learned to recreate original appearance of things. However, "museum doctors" are also responsible for saving subjects of old times from destruction. Today, the word restoration and preservation is inseparable.

Entering into the small room, special workshop for restoration of fabrics, carpet and felt products we did not guess that we will meet with Tursunkul Zhaylaubayeva, who works with clothes of legendary person in the history of Kazakhstan more than 30 years.

Involvement in the second restoration of «Golden man», restoration of furniture "Sakas leader", "Pazyryks woman", caftans of Ablaykhan and Kazybek bii, many of Scythian fabric and leather products — all these works made by Tursunkul.


Restorers Tursunkul and Nazym Zhaylaubayeva


Caftan of Abylaikhan


Restored caftan of Abylaikhan

Having graduated school, Tursunkul Zhaylaubayeva arrived to the capital of that time, from Almaty region. Nothing indicated that she will forever connect the life with restoration in the museum. She selected university and enrolled to biological faculty.

However, soon, she had followed to "the need of the heart". In her spare time from studying, Tursunkul very quickly and skillfully learned sewing and understood that she wants to work in the museum. "She came to the museum and told that wants to be work in restoration (at that time this word was very famous). She started work as the restorer of the third category and later, passing the second step, transferred to the restorer of the highest category. Museum funds were here "home" — said jokingly her daughter Nazym — she was allowed to come into any fund and choose exhibit which according to her required restoration".

5675a7d36adc0cbc978dd4643c4ccbc6.jpg           b8e1badc7525ae30af968cf856b4101f.jpg

                Bridal outfit, 18th century                                                       Girl's suit, 18th century  


The very first thing which was restored by Tursunkul was the carpet embroidered by ornaments (tus kiiz). The work over it became her "exam". "The Minister of Culture Uzbekali Zhanibekov at that time, employed me, he did not ask the diploma, directly gave a carpet. In a month I gave Kazakh Museum Restoration a ready carpet" — said Tursunkul."

"In 1984 I restored Chapayev’s felt cloak which was sent to me by mail and after restoration I sent it also by mail to the museum of T. Shevchenko. I keep the letter of thanks for this work" — said master. Since that time Tursunkul Zhaylaubayeva recovered many things at home. Even "Golden man" was at her home. No wonder, her daughter Nazym, who grew up in the atmosphere of creativity went on her feet. She became the designer and later the restorer.

Tursunkul Zhaylaubayeva — the true professional of her work. It seems, in 30 years she learned «to feel» things and in a moment to understand how they can be saved and returned to life. "Reconstruction process very laborious also requires special knowledge. It is necessary to know techniques of creation of a product, threads and fabrics. Threads were not made in Kazakhstan. The major part of fabrics and threads came to us from Bukhara. To find threads for reconstruction, it is necessary to go to Bukhara. For example, we have a product of 18th century, we go to Uzbekistan where we buy ancient clothes, manual weaving which then we dismiss on the thread" — said Tursunkul about features of her work.


Kazybek biis's caftan before restoration 


Caftan of Kazybek biis during the restoration 


By the way, there is a question, whether modern threads used in restoration of fabrics. According to Tursunkul and her daughter, caftan of Kazybek bii had to be restored completely, as it was harshly damaged by the time. For this purpose the threads and fabric which used under the clothes which made by Uzbek masters several centuries ago were used.

One of the restorers of rarities with a wide experience is Nurgul Ashimbayeva. In our talk she said: «we as doctors — have no right for an error». Indeed, more exact characteristic for restorer’s work cannot be found. The artists-"surgeons" cannot neither to lower, nor to add to a masterpiece. It is impossible to interfere in authoring style and break its technique. Master should remove "enemies" and save a relic. First of all it is dust and improper storage.


Nurgul Ashimbayeva during the work 

"It is the Quran written by the Arab ligature, it is found in the south of Kazakhstan. "When I receive the book, first of all it requires mechanical cleaning, then the wet cleaning and steam out which straightens each leaf and at the same time disinfects" — says Nurgul Ashimbayeva.


At the last stage of "treatments" the gaps on sheets taking into account quality, colors and thickness of paper will be patched. Then all sheets are aggregated, and then the cover is updated. And only then the book is transferred to storage. There are no specialties as restorers, it comes internally, on a need of the heart" — told Nurgul Nurseitova.

Approach to each book or manuscript is individual therefore to say how long will take "sorcery" over this or that written source is impossible. It can take month, maybe half a year of daily work.

To be the restorer — means to have talent and enormous patience to argue with time, through huge work winning from it life of the masterpieces capable a lot of things to tell about our past.