Ernest Hemingway said: “The person subduing his spirit is stronger the one conquering cities”.

How hard it was not to tell, not to divulge to the whole world about the event which by its scale has all reasons to become a 2012 event and even not Kazakhstan but Kazakhstan-American. But the founder and president of Saby Charitable Foundation Aselle Tasmagambetova always makes a continuous pause between a fact occurred and its lighting, in order to confidently tell about them after having been reassured by results.

The effect from the social and cultural campaign Nomad’s Way, which took place from February 13 to February 17, 2012 in New York and whose ideological father, organizer and sponsor was Saby Foundation, is already clear and we can proudly tell about it.

Nomad’s Way

During triumphal 2012 Olympic Games, the World Wide Web burst with numerous search requests for the word “Kazakhstan”. The West knows little about our country associating it, first of all, with a vast territory, oil and gas. But besides mineral resources and virgin corners of wild nature, we have other things to present to the world. Our country is unique. It is young, being independent for only 20 years but, at the same time, the art of Kazakh ancestors has a deep history. Not every modern person from Kazakhstan knows this part of national ethnos, let alone overseas connoisseurs.

Saby Foundation set a goal to present to the world a rich historic heritage and uniqueness of Kazakhstan, to show the possibility of successful integration of the East and West by the example of our country, where paths of many civilizations, which made possible the cultural cross-fertilization of peoples and nations, mingled in complex interlacement.

As a mean for the realization of these purposes Nomad’s Way project, which included two stages, was designed: the exhibition of antique Kazakh jewelry held in Christie’s Auction House and the charitable auction organized in the building of New York Public Library. And where else is it possible to realize such high ideas if not here, in New York, the world center and integration cradle.

The jewelry collection of the nomad period, carefully made by Imangali Tasmagambetov and currently occupying an honorable place at the State Museum of Kazakhstan, was exhibited abroad for the first time. It became a real discovery for the American public. Thousands of visitors, amateurs and professionals revealed with surprise the culture of Central Asia. Nomad way of life left a mark on a spectrum of cultural development of our people. We cannot boast with architectural masterpieces or ancient writings but it is impressive how our ancients, who in fact did not have any constant settlements, reached such a high level in applied arts. The jewelry created mainly for the decoration of women’s suits astound by their creative ideas and multiplicate technologies. Works of ancient nomad masters are unique not only because of their historic value but because of the fullness of symbolism – each detail, each line of a piece of work carries a definite meaning.

Inspired by antique masterpieces, the world-famous jewelry houses of Europe and America – Avakian, de Grisogono, Jacob & Co, Chopard, Chatila have made especially for Saby Foundation the unique adornments created in accordance with the best traditions of Kazakh people. The unrivaled masters of the current jewelry art have made unparalleled products, using in their works features of old specimens, archaeological evidences, ancient petroglyphs, interweaving inexplicably the wealth of historical heritage of the great nation and recognizable personal mastery of contemporary artists.

These adornments were presented as lots at the charity auction, which was immediately called a "grand event" and "discovery of Kazakhstan" by the mass media. It does not surprise as the whole world of New York bohemia gathered in NYPL, a symbolic if not iconic place frontage of which during the whole evening was decorated by Kazakh national ornaments with glowing deep blue and gold luminescence. The event guests were well-known businessmen and politicians, world artists, showmen and society lions, such as Keith Rubinstein and Mike Zoi, Igor Krutoi and Nikolai Baskov, Michelle Rodriguez and Somers Farkas. The concert program included Robin Thicke, Craig David and Raquel Castro. The actress, mega star and triple Oscar nominee Sigourney Weaver willingly agreed to host the evening. The event was supported by the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Kazakhstan under UNO in New York, with personal commitment of the permanent representative Birganym Aitimova who rendered invaluable assistance and contribution. It is symbolic that cultural event held in such high level was timed to the 20th anniversary of the Independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Participants of the auction showed a philanthropic activity taking an interest not only in jewelry lots but also in the works of contemporary Kazakhstan masters, whose fame spread outside our country a long time ago. The attention of connoisseurs was attracted by an exquisite workmanship, complicated technique and tangible spirituality based on myths and legends of the ancient nomads mysteriously mingled by artists in graphics, photos and sculptures. As a result of the auction, the sum in the amount of about 1 million US dollars was raised. All funds were directed for the realization of charitable projects held by Saby Charitable Foundation. Among them, the special place is taken by the Alem Young Talents Support Program which became the main beneficiary of the auction.

The Alem Program is designed for talented and promising young people from Kazakhstan backblocks with the objective to create economic and organizational conditions for their intellectual and creative development, life establishing and social self-realization. The program is to provide children and young people with the equal possibilities to realize their potentials independently of their place of residence. Talents should not be ‘buried’ only because a person with talents lives in a distant village, little town, far away from the so-called ‘civilized’ world. Within the framework of this program every child or young person from any backblock can send to the Foundation a letter with his/her résumé or post it on the specially created website -, where all inquires are received and considered. The talents and skills of an applicant are estimated by distinguished specialists in different fields of culture, art, science, technique, sport, etc. Summaries of the high professionals allow to find really talented people for whom the Foundation makes all possible to develop their best qualities and to correctly direct them to the future. Saby Charitable Foundation provides those having really unique talents with educational grants in special institutions, allows to take part in competitions, contests, exhibitions and others, offers trainings in leading companies and enterprises.

After holding the Nomad’s Way campaign, over 500 inquiries were sent to the Foundation. After the serious selection, grants were conferred to 27 persons. The work continues and we wait for new talented and brave applicants ready to work hard and achieve high goals. And we will help you. Honorable sons of their ancestors, continuers of centuries-old traditions of the Kazakh people will become a pride of our young country.


Saby Charitable Foundation
Saby Charitable Foundation has been operating since 2002 having become one of the first foundations in the charitable movement of Kazakhstan. The field of activity of the Foundation can be guessed by its name, the translation of which from the Kazakh language means ‘baby’. Therefore, the main activity covers health of children and their physical development, spirituality and availability of education. Paying attention to the most vulnerable groups of society, Saby Charitable Foundation renders assistance to orphaned children and children left without parental care, talented children from socially unprotected families, people with limited capacities.

The experience in the organization of charitable auctions held by Saby Charitable Foundation began in 2008 when, in October, a charitable auction and the exhibition of creative works of Kazakhstan masters were held in London in the world’s most honorable and prestigious auction house Christie’s. This event became significant not only for the Foundation but for the whole Kazakhstan because it opened to the world one of the constituent of the country’s culture: modern art of Kazakhstan. Guests of the event showed a great interest to the presented lots thanks to which the sum in the amount of 1,000,000 US dollars was raised. All funds were directed for the purchase of specialized cars equipped with hydraulic elevators for wheelchairs which were donated to the societies of disabled people of Kazakhstan cities with aiming to organize Invataxi highway transport service which renders free transport services to people with limited capacities. The ‘Decent Life for Disabled People’ Project initiated so successfully still has its continuation. By now, 52 cars have been purchased and delivered to 16 cities of the country, in each of which Invataxi service started to work.

February charitable auction in New York became the second in the history of Saby Charitable Foundation. Its unconditional success once again confirmed that the selected direction of the activity and work methods of the Foundation is right.

This article contains extracts from the book of I. Tasmagambetov
‘Works of Zerger Masters of Central Asia’, DIDAR, Almaty, 1997

Photos here