Tumar: a tool for building equal partnerships

The institution of marriage plays a dominant role in the lives of girls and women in patriarchal contexts. In Kyrgyzstan, it is a union between two families, rather than between two individuals. In the stages prior and during marriage women are often treated as objects of marriage as opposed to active participants.

Tumar, a talisman in Kyrgyz, is a tool that aims at introducing discussion on this “sacred” aspect of life. It consists of nine objects representing spheres of married life that offer their user the agency for decision making, facilitating the married couple to become active participants. These objects correspond to spheres of marital life: love, sex, children, finances, internal and external relationships, career and work, traditions, religion and spirituality.

Each of the objects is given its special ornament, which symbolizes the sphere it relates to. The symbolic ornamnts are derived from Kyrgyz culture. The main elements connecting this project with its cultural context are these ornaments. They also serve as communication agents thanks to the narrative ability of Kyrgyz ornament. The symbols contain various messages on equality, sustainability and partnership. Tumar is accompanied by cards with questions to each sphere. Questions on traditions, social and gender norms, healthy relationships, etc. (on picturs below)


The aim of this project is to bring awareness and invite a discussion on social and gender norms with marriage as a pretext.










 © Zhyldyz Kozhoiarova 2019

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