Kazakh jeweler carries on nomadic traditions with his art

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Using a burner and simple tools such as tweezer and hammer, Berik Alibai turns metals and precious stones into pieces of art.

The 56-year-old man, born in a small village in the Zhambyl Region in southern Kazakhstan, has the epithet the "golden hands of Kazakhstan."

In his workshop, swords and daggers seem to have been taken from Oriental fairy tales. Rings, earrings, and bracelets made according to nomadic traditions bring visitors closer to the life of Kazakhs in ancient times.

Alibai comes from a craftsman's family and has worked as a jeweler for about 40 years. The master also took part in the restoration of jewelery relics for the country's national museum.

"My great-grandfather and grandfather were jewelers. When I was young, I always helped them with the craft work. I had dreamed of having my own workshop," Alibai told Xinhua.

"In the 1990s, the dream came true," he added.

Alibai said that Kazakh jewelry art was flourishing in the 17th and 18th centuries, and his works have drawn inspiration from ancient masters.

"Our work is piecemeal, everything is done manually, without the use of machines, computers, technical devices," he said.

"This is the only way to make an exclusive piece of jewelry," he said.

Alibai is now focused on passing on his skills to the next generation.

"Being a jeweler is not easy. A lot of young people get excited about jewelry art, but only a few can finish the apprenticeship," the master said.

"I do not refuse anyone, so there have been many boys and girls in the workshop. I teach them for free, hoping that the beauty of Kazakh arts can be inherited," he said.

Alibai has been recognized as an honored worker of Kazakhstan and has received the Honorary Order of Carl Faberge.

His works are exhibited in the National Museum of Kazakhstan as well as in private collections both in Kazakhstan and abroad. The hand-made jewelry he makes is also presented as national gifts for foreign leaders. 

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