On the 18th of August the UNESCO Tashkent Office hosted a presentation of books on the region’s traditional culture dedicated to the 15th anniversary of independence of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the inauguration of the Museum of Traditional Applied Art that was opened on the 28th of August 2006 in Baisun district centre (special material about the Museum and its collection will be published in one of the subsequent issues of the journal). The presentation was attended by Rustam Kurbanov, Minister for Culture and Sports of Uzbekistan, Mr. Barry Lane, Head of the UNESCO Tashkent Office, and Ravshan Mansurov, Head the Main Administration for Protection and Utilization of objects of cultural heritage of the Ministry for Culture and Sports.

In 2002, Baisun — one of the most interesting centres of traditional folk culture — along with another 18 cultural objects worldwide, was recognized by UNESCO as Masterpiece of oral tradition and intangible heritage of the humankind. This decision has given a significant impetus to the process of comprehensive study, record and preservation of folk culture in Baisun region. One of the projects under the comprehensive programme to promote and develop traditional folk culture was the opening of the Baisun Artistic Crafts Revival Centre. Following the UNESCO Tashkent Office initiative, in the centre of Baisun city a building was constructed, in which filament dying workshops were set up and looms installed; the building offers space for women-embroiderers and good hands at making traditional carpets and janda textiles. The first wonderful samples have already been created; the manufacturing of the items is based on ancient technologies of dying with natural pigments with the use of classical Baisun ornamentation. The gala ceremony to inaugurate the Crafts Revival Centre took place in May 2006.

UNESCO Tashkent Office, with the support of the Good Will Ambassador Sheikh I. Gasan Shaker, made an important decision to locate the Baisun Museum of Traditional Applied Art in the same building that houses the Crafts Revival Centre. The idea of creating the museum has to do with the fact that many wonderful pieces of Baisun artistic craft are not accessible to the general public and are inadequately represented in the museum collections of Uzbekistan. Procurement expeditions with the involvement of lead experts have resulted in the acquisition of 60 items of Baisun traditional artistic textile. These include suzane (embroidered wall-rug), zardevor, bugjoma, oina-khalta, choi-khalta, kulchata, etc., as well as carpets, such as gajari gilyam, oq-enli gilyam, dig-diga (horsecloth), etc. There are real masterpieces among them. For example, a unique oq-enli carpet that dates back to the late 19th — early 20th century.

Over a short period of time a lot of mounting and design work has been done in the museum in accordance with the requirements of international museum standards. Some exhibits will be handed over to the museum from the museum collection of Baisun khokimiyat (local administration), and it will also receive collections from the Baisun Foundation. Major scientific and preparatory work that preceded the exposition brings hope that the museum will become one of the must popular places to visit for both Uzbekistan residents and foreign tourists.

The opening of this unique Museum of Traditional Applied Art that has not yet had an analogy in Central Asia in one of the remote regions of Uzbekistan is very important for the conservation of the richest cultural heritage of the area and for bringing up young generation in the spirit of love and respect for the homeland.

The creation and selection of items for the Museum of Traditional Applied Art was preceded by serious fundamental research into the culture and art of Baisun. In 2003 a complex Baisun scientific expedition began its operation; the objective of the expedition was to explore the folk culture of the region. The most important outcome of its work has been monographs authored by the staff of the Institute of Art History A. Khakimov and Elmira Gyul «Baisun: Atlas of Artistic Crafts» (2006) and R. Abdullaev «Baisun: Traditional Musical Culture». The first one («Baisun: Atlas of Artistic Crafts») presents and analyses vast factual material, including illustrative one, on traditional crafts. Information is organized geographically, i.e. information on the location of centres, about master craftsmen and types of craft is presented in sequence, by individual settlements.

The monograph by R. Abdullaev discusses the traditional musical culture of Baisun as local song style, in all its uniqueness, distinctions and similarities with the styles of other ethnic and cultural areas of Uzbekistan. The place and role of traditional musical art in contemporary everyday life of Baisun (the entire district and the district centre) is another subject the study addresses, which is inseparable from the peculiarities of creating songs and traditional musical performance; it covers both song heritage, including folk epic tales, and ethnic instrumental art.

It should be underlined that the publications offered to the public reflect a priority objective of October 2003 UNESCO Conference: crating a catalogue of traditional artistic craft items of Baisun. Given a large number of areas, which preserved authentic cultural and artistic traditions in our country, these publications can be considered a model for creating an inventory and cataloguing intangible items of cultural heritage in other areas and cultural centres of Uzbekistan.

One of the most important prospects for Baisun is linked to its development as an international tourism ground. This is to be facilitated by an illustrated catalogue «Baisun» (A. Arapov) published by UNESCO and the Baisun Foundation. The catalogue presents history and archaeology, ethnography and folklore, traditional crafts and applied art of Baisun, its cultural and natural sites. It includes detailed area map and materials on the most curious, in terms of ethnography, settlements, and on the traditions of the past and present. The objective of the catalogue is to demonstrate the most remarkable aspects of Baisun as an area with unique culture and amazing landscapes, and to provide travel agencies with essential material to promote new routes and itineraries that include mountain areas of Surkhandarya.