In the summer of 2022, as part of a public program organized by the Davra collective, I hosted a participatory and performative collective manty cooking session in the backyard of Europe's oldest public museum, the Fridericianum Museum in Kassel, as part of the documenta 15 exhibition.
This text below I have written for Chilltan publication about manty.
Among Turkic peoples, the words қыз, кыз, qız, kız, gyz, qiz mean ‘girl’. Манты, манду, manty, mantu, manta, mantı is a traditional dish in many Asian cultures. ‘Manty’ are steamed dumplings consisting of a meat or vegetable filling in a casing of thinly rolled dough.
Girls, women and grandmothers use the word «қыз» as an affectionate form of address, reminiscent of the friendship of childhood.
The preparation of ‘manty’ is a collective practice that unites women of all ages. Like the chiltan, the forty spirits who replenish their ranks by replacing those who have grown too old with new suitable people, the girls replace one another in shaping and filling the ‘manty’. These could be very young girls, just setting out to acquire the art of shaping these edible sculptures. ‘Manty’ are very accepting; they don’t mind how quickly you work. You are still learning, watching the elders at work, trying to copy the dance of your mother’s, sisters’ and aunties’ hands. No one tells you how or gives you instruction; the knowledge is transmitted by the atoms in the air.
When you make ‘manty’ together with other women, it feels like you are part of some sort of sacrament. It’s the time and place for living stories. When the words come to an end, time stops. At such times, it’s as though my mother’s face freezes over, only her fingers move, until the dough and minced meat disappear before our eyes.
Photo archives, 2010