Kazan is TripAdvisor’s Destinations on the Rise

What can be more exciting than to find out from the coworker that my home town is one of 10 top places to travel in the world and she wants to visit Kazan the sooner the better!


Downtown Kazan, Russia

TripAdvisor (an American website that provides reviews of travel-related content) named Kazan, Russian Federation, as its #8 Traveler’s Choice Destinations on the Rise. in 2015. This award highlights spots around the world that have received the greatest increase in positive feedback and interest from TripAdvisor members over the years. CNN notes that historic Kazan “along the Volga River has stunning architecture to admire, including the Kazan Kremlin, which offers “a mix of Orthodox Christian and Muslim cultures”.

Indeed, Kazan city presents fascinating, peaceful and empowering collaboration of various cultures, religions, traditions and mindsets.

Chiteks – gorgeous and comfortable

Among many attractions and works of art that Kazan offers, there is an exceptional, unique and functional one created centuries ago by the Tatars – the Art of Leather Mosaic.

These one-of-a-kind chiteks (Tatar boots) are created through a complex process of stitching genuine leather patterns by hands with so-called Kazan stitch and golden twisted threads. The patterns are build up into sophisticated designs that incorporate motifs of Islamic art traditions. Tatar boots look impressively beautiful and exceptional on one’s legs!


Chiteks – cosy, warm and cute!

If Kazan is on your 2015 travel list, and if you want to own a pair or two of Tatar boots and to see how chiteks are created, email me at uniqueleathermosaic@gmail.com.

Exceptional boot is called chitek

When you google boot, tons of images of different boots come up:  fancy, classy, ugly, modern, in all shapes and colors. But the boots that are created using leather mosaic technique do not come up… I am realizing that it is not only because of my poor implementation of SEO tactics but also because the boots that I am talking about on my website belong to different category. These boots are right between footwear and art. These boots are one-of-a kind and hand-made, always!

New Sah boots

made by Sahtian

The special category that they belong to is Chitek . The word chitek comes from Tatar word çitek (читек or ичиги ) which means  “a boot made from soft leather and ornamented with cutout designs that are stitched together by hands”. The technique is so unique and sophisticated that no other ethnos but the Tatars could master it over the centuries. Chiteks are very popular in many regions of Russia and highly treasured by their owners because you can conquer the world in them.  The word читек is googalabe. But chitek is not yet…  I am on a mission to figuring out the ways to make association of boot  with chitek more recognizable in people’s and web workers’ mind. If you have any ideas, I appreciate if you share them with me via uniqueleathermosaic@gmail.com

made by Sahtianboot 4boot 5


Better way to get away from politics


At the times when it is so confusing and upsetting to watch news and follow politics, I always turn my eyes to the art and… shoes…. I feel so lucky to own this pair of flats that is so beautiful, comfortable and excepional. IMG_1761

And they are piece of art…. unique art. This shoes are hand-made – every bits of them – by craftsmen from Sahtiyan.IMG_1743

The three-colored flower ornament is designed using the best traditions of Tatar folk patterns.

The patterns are cut out and stitched together from inside by hands using silk threads of different colors.


this is how the ornament looks inside


Let me know (UniqueLeatherMosaic@gmail.com)

if you want to own something like this and  I will make sure you have it!

25 cultures in one spot!

Do you know that almost every school in the area called Research Triangle Park (RTP) in North Carolina can boast of population of students whose families come from so many different cultures and countries? Local communities here in RTP: kids and adults – are exposed to such an exceptional and unique mixture of languages, cultures, traditions, arts, music and flavors from all around the world.

Tonight, my son’s elementary school hosts an International Festival – an exciting celebration of more than 25 cultures and countries! Kids and their parents will have an amazing opportunity to explore the cultures of the world from first hands without leaving US! What a treat!

international festival in elementary school

The Tatar culture is represented in the 2013 International Festival

Flags in the school hallway represet countries of students' heritage

Flags in the school hallway represent countries of students’ heritage

Tatar Leather Mosaic at Raleigh International Festival

This year the introduction of Tatar culture and arts at the 28th annual International Festival in Raleigh, North Carolina has become inevitable because the theme was “Art, Crafts and Music”. The Tatars have so much to share and to be proud of! There are several unique art techniques that the Tatars developed, among which Tatar leather mosaic takes the special place. This year the festival was attended by over 25000 guests. Debutant of the festival -Tatar cultural exhibit – was warmly welcomed and heavily visited. Amazing volunteers from different cultural backgrounds (Tatar, American, Uzbek, Indian, Chinese…) helped to put together and run the booth.

Boot showcase

Explaining that the boot has been stitched by hand

Over 3 days we explained our guests who are the Tatars, where majority of them live, why Tatar culture is different from Russian, what are the arts and crafts that Tatars are accountable for. We showcased Tatar leather mosaic, embroidery, weaving, jewelry, book illustrations. We gave opportunity to listen to Tatar music, to repeat Tatar dance moves and to decorate paper boots; aprons and hats by very own Tatar ornamental patterns.  We observed such emotions as surprise, when guests learned about the ethnic group the majority have never heard before; the excitement, when the guests realized that they discovered something new and interesting; the amazement, when they saw how the leather mosaic is created… I, particularly, will never forget the big amazed eyes of a young girl when she realized that all the boots in the exhibits were made by hand.

I hope this first experience of showcasing Tatar arts and crafts to such broad American audience is a good start in changing stereotypical associations of Tatars with Mongols, warriors and peace breakers. I want Tatars to be well-known as peaceful, creative, innovative, sport-loving and caring people with culture and arts to be inspired and strived for.

I want to thank everyone who supported and encouraged me to organize and run the exhibit! I am, particularly, expressing my cheers to an exceptional American girl – Lily – whose incredible desire to learn and enjoy Tatar language, whose unimaginable inner power and strong and humble personality inspire me to diligently spread the word about the Tatars and their rich and mesmerizing culture.


Leather mosaic by Sahtian

Come to get a taste of Tatar Culture and Art  as well as  to celebrate many other cultures at the International Festival in Raleigh, NC, on October 4 – 6, 2013.

This is the first year the Tatar Culture is presented in this annual festive celebration of ethnicities and their vibrant cultures. This year’s theme is “Arts, Crafts and Music” – and the Tatars have so much to offer and share.

Please stop by to see beautiful exhibits and samples of Tatar leather mosaic, embroidery, weaving, jewelry, decorations, illustrations and more. You will have a chance to realize why technique of leather mosaic is so unique and why Tatar decorative art  is so exceptional and beautiful! You will also have a chance to try yourself as a designer of Tatar costume: Boots, hats and aprons are waiting for you to be decorated with Tatar ethnic ornaments and patterns.


Unique Leather Mosaic from Kazan

Among many decorative leather art techniques (application, burning, stamping, embroidery, and painting) mosaic is the hardest to execute and to find.

There is a place where the art of leather mosaic has been created and refined, where masterpieces have been meticulously and individually crafted. The name of this place is Kazan, a city situated in the heart of the Russian Federation in the beautiful and peaceful Republic of Tatarstan, the homeland of the Turkic ethnic group called the Tatars.

Kazan leather mosaic is a unique type of leather crafting that was developed in the Kazan area centuries ago. This art is a sophisticated and delicate combination of the softest leather and traditional Tatar ethnic ornaments cut and stitched together by hand.P1060232

Widely popular and famous across Russia and throughout Europe and Asia in the 18 and 19th centuries, so-called Kazan or Tatar boots crafted using the leather mosaic technique are slowly regaining their popularity thanks to dedicated and passionate craftsmen in the Kazan area who have been creating masterpieces by hand.  Kazan stitch – the bonding mechanism of the technique – cannot be reproduced by a machine. There is nothing else in the world that looks and feels the same!

The art of Kazan leather mosaic has an interesting and rocky history. The period since the Soviet Union collapsed has been the hardest time for the few craftsmen left to keep the art alive. They are doing a wonderful job of preserving the art with the limited resources available to them. Much still needs to be done to preserve, revive, and popularize the art of unique Kazan leather mosaic across generations and nations.