Jan 20, 2015 | By Alec

Who’ve guessed that a creation tool like 3D printing technology could also be a preservation tool? Well, that’s exactly what the Russian designer Bashkosha and his team are using it for. For while I say ‘Russian’, Bashkosha is actually a member of the Bashkir tribe, one of the many ethnic minorities that populate Russia’s vast land mass. Some, like the Bashkir people, even have an autonomous republic within the Russian Federation, run by its own president and legislative assembly.

While all Russian citizens, these many groups or tribes often have their own history, culture (sometimes even religion) to go with their ethnicity. The Bashkir tribe constitute an Islamic minority (1,5 million people) from the western portion of the Ural Mountains. For centuries, they have carefully preserved their own cultural identity which, amongst other ways, is reflected in their distinctive dress. However, in recent decades that identity is becoming increasingly marginalized by new generations dressing and identifying with western and mainstream Russian styles. And to ensure that their culture won’t be lost in the maelstrom of ethnicity, Bashkosha and his team has turned to 3D printing to preserve it indefinitely.

Fortunately, the Bashkir dress style is particularly suited for this, featuring – as  you can see – of cloth covers and headdresses (the dulbega and kashmau, respectively) covered in lots and lots of decorative metal disks. These are traditionally made from old coins and jewelry accessories, which are hard to come by. But by relying on a Russian-made FDM Picaso 3D printer, Bashkosha has been able to beautifully recreate them in plastic. They have even experimented with an ‘action figure’ of a person dressed in traditional Bashkir style, made by scanning someone actually wearing that dress.

Now these 3D printed creations are not just very beautiful, they also serve the distinct purpose of preserving the Bashkir culture and increasing understanding of it. To that end, Bashkosha already took his creations to the 3D Print Expo in Sokolniki, Russia, where they were very well received.

In the future, he and his team also hope to use these creations for a variety of other purposes, such as props in movies featuring the Bashkir or as accessories for museums, cultural events, festivals and shows. They could even be used as cheaper alternatives by the Bashkir people to replace expensive metal ones, or be sold as souvenir to tourists visiting their Republic of Bashkortostan.

We see remarkable and innovative applications of 3D printing technology all the time, but preserving one’s centuries-old culture is a truly inspiring way to use it. It shows that this isn’t just a futuristic toy for engineers, but a creative tool that can be steered in any direction you desire. What artefacts and accessories from your culture could be given new life with a 3D printer? 



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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