Down with Bridewealth, Down with the Veil! Soviet Campaign for the Emancipation of Women in Central Asia in Graphics and Textiles between the 1920s and 1930s

In: Central Asian Affairs
Snezhanna Atanova Assistant Professor, School of Sciences and Humanities, Nazarbayev University Nur-Sultan Kazakhstan

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Varied visuals (paper-based, textiles, ceramics, etc.) targeted men and women to join the struggle for a new happy life in Soviet Central Asia. I designate these visuals as “Soviet material ideology” and I consider them as a powerful tool in spreading new ideas and practices. In this paper I explore posters and carpets created in the 1920s and 1930s that call for the emancipation of women of Central Asia. Studying of graphic and textile iconography helps to understand how the image of a woman of the “Soviet East” was reproduced and which ideas about women’s emancipation were promoted. The analysis of Soviet visuals, which were a part of everyday life, explores a multidimensional picture of Soviet history and reveals the links between tradition and modernity, national and supranational, top-down and bottom-up narratives. Finally, textiles and graphics reflect Soviet trends pertaining to gender roles in the 1920–1930s. The paper is based on posters from the collection of the department of the Russian State Library and the Mardjani Foundation. It also relies on the examination of carpets from the Museum of Fine Arts of Turkmenistan, the State Museum of Oriental Art, the Russian Museum of Ethnography, the All-Russian Museum of Decorative and Applied Art and private collections.

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