Ayit Imi is a Instrument craftsman in Jayi village, Xinhe County, in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
Being the fifth generation in the family to make musical instruments, 68 years old Ayit Imi has worked as craftsman since he was 15. He is also one of the national intangible cultural heritage inheritor.
In his village, nearly one third of villagers are living on making musical instruments.Musical instruments and music play an important role in the villager, as well as in Ayit Imi’ s life.
In his home, there are full of musical instruments, such as Dutar, Etyek Rawap, the traditional musical instruments in Xinjiang.
“In my memory of childhood, the music never stopped in my home. In the morning, I woke up in the music, and in the evening fell asleep in the music. Music has been melt in my blood and been part of my soul,” said Ayit Imi.
Unfortunately, an accident nearly ruined his dream of being craftsman in his twenties. In 1976, his right hand was disabled in an accident. For a long time, he couldn’t play music, not even to make instruments.
The young Ayit Imi lost his direction of life at that time. He didn’t know what to do, but locked himself in the workshop, staring at the raw materials.
“At that time, I lost my craft of making instrument, the stable income and all my happiness,” said Ayit Imi.
Fortunately, deep in his heart,the love of music and the craft never go away. With the help and encouragement from family, Ayit Imi pulled himself together. He accepted his disabled hand, and tried to control the hand in a new way to do his work.
And he made it and finally became a famous musical instrument craftsman.
In 2008, Ayit Imi met Tursun Memet, a disable young man.
“When I first met him, I remembered when I was young. And I thought I might do something for him. So I took him as an apprentice,” Ayit Imi said.
Tursun Memet was very surprised when he heard the news. “I am a disabled person. I don’t know if I can do this work. But when I know my teacher is also a disabled person that encourage me a lot. And finally I decided to have a try.”
After more than ten years hard work, Tursun Memet has become a good craftsman. And his life has changed. “By this craft, I have get off the poverty, and live a better life. My teacher not only taught me how to be a craftsman, but also how to be a good man. And I will try my best to pass on the craft and to help others.”
For years, Ayit Imi has taken 200 apprentices, most of them are from poor family and 6 of them are disabled person. “Life is full of magic. When you lost, you receive. Now I see my apprentices have changed their life and lived better, and I feel my life is complete too.”
Ayit Imi’s home is full of music instruments. (Xinhuanet, Rustan)
Ayit Imi is teaching in his workshop. (Xinhuanet, Rustan)
Tursun Memet is making musical instrument in the workshop. (Chimengul)
Ayit Imi’s apprentice is making musical instrument. (Xinhuanet, Rustan)
Ayit Imi is debugging musical instrument. (Xinhuanet, Rustan)
Ayit Imi is chatting with his apprentice. (Xinhuanet, Rustan)
Ayit Imi is looking at his certificate as national intangible cultural heritage inheritor. (Xinhuanet, Rustan)