Aidai Asangulova was raised in the tradition of felting; her grandmother was a well-known maker of felt carpets in the small village of Kyzul-Tuu in Kyrgyzstan during the waning years of occupation by the Soviet Union. From an early age, she had a fascination with the artistic possibilities of working with felt. She says, “As a child, I was always trying to make new things out of felt—was it possible to make a stone, an apple, or a felt apricot? My relatives joked about it, saying, “Aidai looks at the world through felt glasses.’”
A nomadic people, the Kyrgyz have been utilizing the wool from sheep in their region for centuries, and felt has been used for yurts, boots, clothing, decoration, and rugs. This Kyrgyz artistic tradition was almost lost when the oppression of Soviet-era regulations restricted the creation of traditional art in favor of work on collective farms. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Aidai and others of her generation have endeavored to reclaim the heritage that was lost under the oppressive regime. She is attending the Folk Art Market to attempt to spread that heritage and tradition to a wider audience.