Kyrgyz ornamental applied art - handicraft

Shyrdak - decorated felt carpets
Ala-kiyiz - colored felt
Matting - made from some shafts of chiy, weaved with colored wool
Kyrgyz national fluffy products

Kurak - a creation some ornamental compositions from colored parts of material
Tush-kiyiz - it is wall decoration, panel
Ayak kap - It is a bag, decorated with embroider
Tekche - It is an embroider on leather, has warm brown and yellow tones.
Leather products
Horse harness
Carving on wood
Jewelry hand works
Tradition kyrgyz clothes

Kyrgyz ornamental - applied art was born by centuries - old public history. It is bound up with needs and tastes of kyrgyz people, who were nomads in the past. Communication with virgin nature with it’s snowed tops of mountains, wild rugged rivers, oases and high-mountain valleys formed character and delicate artistic taste of kyrgyz people. Aspiration of kyrgyz to the beauty brought about different kinds of ornamental - applied art-patterns of public fantasy and perfection of artistic vision. Ornament and color are the main means of artistic expression. Ornament usually decorates all things, surrounded kyrgyz since he was born until he dies. There is rich imagery, terseness, simplicity, severity of artistic forms and meaningful diversity of elements for kyrgyz ornament. Multiform ornamentals composition (hornlike, vegetable, geometrical) have a realistic base and direct connections person with environment.
The applied art is not separated from mode of life in public consciousness, it is grounded not only by practical requirements but also by spiritual requests.
Traditional kyrgyz artistic applied art are making decorated felt carpets different types and things of home usage, made from ornamental felt. It is weaving of decorated mattings from prairie plant chiy, winded around with colored wool threads. Decorated weaving can be fluffed and non-fluffed. The embroidery is usually done on leather, felt, silk and cotton. Kurak - a creation some ornamental compositions from colored parts of material. Making decorated things from leather. Wood carving. Artistic manufacture of metals. Hand made weaving wool and silk belts, tape, fringe, lace. Every thing has it’s own ornament.    Top

Shyrdak. Kyrgyz felt art is one of the most ancient. Decorated felt carpets – shyrdaks - important part in the sandwich room decoration. Shyrdak - is the main carpet in the kyrgyz art and it combines some rules of national decoration, its outstanding traits. Shyrdak - is the carpet for floor and made of dense rolled ovine wool of fall shear and consists of central field and border. As a rule, shyrdak has a shape of rectangle, where long side is equal to two short sides. The carpet differs in bright colors and legible image of decoration compositions.
Shyrdak is made in a technology of cutout, mosaic and very seldom met – embroidery. The most wide spread way of decoration is mosaic. There is a way of creation of positive and negative image in the base of technology: colored felt is cut into pieces and put in pairs, composing two pieces with contrast colors, then decoration is plotted, cut out, pieces positions are changed and sewed on in a way that background and decoration are different colors pieces. Thus, full equability of background and figures are reached.
Shyrdak differs in clear image of decoration, distinguished contour, color contrast: red and blue, brown and orange, white and brown and etc. The decorations are always monumental and clear. In the past composition of central field of shyrdak was amounted from circles, later some horn decorative compositions depicted in the rhombs got a wide spread.
Embroidered shyrdaks are unique and rare, because the process of felt fancywork of big measure is labor-intensive. Embroidered shyrdaks are very impressive, delicate and beautiful.    Top

Ala-kiyiz are felt carpets, which sometimes serve as carpets, and sometimes as wall hangings. They can be large or small and it is possible to find examples that are like pictures.
Wool is first of dyed different colours. It is not spun into a thread or made into a felt blanket but kept in a bag as loose wool.
A background is laid out taking wool of one colour and placing it on a mat of chiy. Strands of other colours are then laid on top to create a pattern or picture. The resulting mat of loose wool can be several inches thick. The wool is then soaked and the chiy mat is rolled up and string tied around it (like a Swiss Roll - the chiy taking the place of the sponge cake and the wool that of the jam). The combined roll is taken to an open space and rolled, kicked and trodden on for several hours. This melds the wool together into a friable whole. The mat is then unwound and the wool carpet left to dry.
When the wool has dried it becomes apparent that the colours have partly «washed out» - and the borders between them are less well defined - giving the individual motifs and the carpet as a whole an individual and unique appearance. For this reason, the technique is becoming particular popular for making «picture» panels.
Because the wool is not stitched, but is melded together by this process, Ala-kiyiz are not such sturdy carpets as Shyrdaks - lasting only about half as long - but they are quicker to make.    Top

Matting. Matting is inalienable part of kyrgyz art, made from some shafts of chiy, weaved with colored wool. Cheiy is high prairie grass and from it’s shafts mattings are usually made with decorations or without. The harvest season for chiy is September. The products from chiy are widely used in daily life amongst rural population. The cheiy matting install against wind by the fireplace or drying wool. Also it is put under felt carpets, defending from damp and spoilage. As press form it is used while making shyrdaks and ala-kiyizes. Cheiy`s matting girds around yurta with kerege - national kyrgyz house, makes it warm and decks.
There are some types of matting`s decoration. There are octahedral ornament and ornament with diagonal symmetry of color- red, white, blue - they remind weaved carpets.
An equipment for making cheiy`s matting is machine or wooden construction with two horizontal traverses.
The process of making:
Some craftwomen choose an outline and make settings of decoration elements by needle on the every shaft. Then every shaft is weaved by wool different colors and connected with each other. For this purpose, nall thread for binding shafts are winded on some small freight and connected by loop in order to prevent being winded off. The length of threads should be 4 times longer that future matting. Then all threads are put over the traverse on the distance 20-25 cm from each other. Then cheiy, weaved by wool, is put on the traverse with threads and the ends of threads are put on the contrary sides. It is done until all picture has finished yet.
Matting making takes high skill, patience, perseverance. The complexity of process is that every shaft is weaved by wool separately and connected with others later. That is why it is impossible to predict future decoration. Thus, all elements craft woman takes in her mind. The most difficult part in weaving matting - an ability to create a clear image with compound and interesting decoration. Kyrgyz mattings differ in merry colors and decorations.It is reached by big forms of decorations and colors contrast.
 The style of ornaments of chiy matting looks after decorated fabric or fluffy carpet.    Top

Kyrgyz national fluffy products - art heritage of Kyrgyz South. They are characterized by geometrical figures of ornament, which consists of matton horn, octahedrals and other figures. Colors: blue and red. As shyrdak, the decoration of fluffy carpet is accompanied by colored contrast borders, enriching the decoration. Since ancient times they have been made for special occasions and usually small size. In this technique some bags, pokes for clothers, horse equipment (horse sweater - terdick). The kyrgyz masters begun to manufacture big fluffy carpets kilem not long time ago.    Top

Weavedproducts. Hand made weaving took special place amongst home fabrications in the ancient times. It was done with wooden mill machine – ormok - tight threads, which were made of ovine and camel wool. The most popular colors are: red, blue, yellow, brown. In former time the only vegetable colors were used for fabrication, nowadays some aniline colors are only used.
Milled wool fabrics – taar - are used for sewing street clothes and things of every day life. Patterned milling takes big position in the decoration of yurta. Yurta is inconceivable without patterned stripes - boo - made in technique terme. The fabric, made in this technique, durable, with a raised finish, with deep infiltration of background and decoration. Geometrical design is visible only on the right side. The kyrgyz decoration of dwelling consisted of patterned-weaved carpets necessarily. It is known there are some ways of making fabric: terme, kajary, beshkeshte.    Top

Kurak. It is interesting and pictorial way of kyrgyz creation-know for a long time. Patched technique is used by many peoples and has it’s own features. Kyrgyz kurak can be characterized by ornamental decoration with principal using of geometrical elements. The composition is built on the relation local contrast color elements and has vivid decorative character. Some woolen patches are usually used for making kurak. Kurak is added by embroidery, made with traditional seams. Kyrgyz small carpets are very interesting, made from separated pieces of leather of different color and put on the surface according to rule of distinguishing a main field and edge. There are some quadrants and triangles as decorations on the kurak.    Top

Embroider - the anciens kind of kyrgyz decorative art. It is known by diversity, ease, picturesque images. An ornamental system with a dominance of vegetable motives: leaf , branch, offspring, flower, round and curled nozzles. Free improvisation is often met in the fancy work. Craft women used different techniques and fabrics. They embroidered with woolen, silk, cotton threads on homemade fabric, leather, chamois, felt. The most favorite materials are-silk, velvet, sateen. The things inside yurta, clothes, women hats, horse equipment, bags, cases were decorated by embroider. The embroider is field of women creation. Alot of embroidered thing is necessity part of bride`s dowry.
Skilled craft women can embroider without preliminary tracing of image, improvising and composing decoration which are always in memory of them.    Top

Tush-kiyiz. It is wall decoration - panel and the most characteristic sample of embroider art. This carpet has a shape of wide lengthen rectangle. The body consists of monochromatic fabric without fancy work. There is an embroider as wide border atop and from sides. The upper side of carpet is usually decorated with one, two or three triangles as mascots.
Tush-keeizez are done with high taste, characterized with clear rhythm of an alternation of embroider, riches of motives and manifold of seams, delicacy in the alternation of colors. In the past tush–kiyiz are trimmed with otter`s fur for emphasizing of carpet beauty.    Top

Ayak kap. It is a bag, decorated with embroider. The bag has round caudal part, decorated with fringe and hand-made lace. Bag`s hood is equipped with triangle flap with decoration, which consists of similar elements, developing the main theme of composition. The fancy work is done by special  tamburnyie seam .The decoration always underlines the shape of thing.    Top

Tekche - woman`s hanging shelf, which has shape of rectangle carpet, lengthen on pintle. It reminds tush-kiyiz (on composition), but done from velvet with front side embroidered. Very often the base of decoration is convoluted shaft or range of repetitive motives (tumar, kyayl, central nozzle).There are red and dark red colors in the colours of mekche.
It is an embroider on leather, has warm brown and yellow tones. Tekche with leather embroider is more ancient. There are some diversification of ornaments, clear composition, a harmony of decoration and background. The decorations are built according to rule of criss-cross axises, thus the motives, which are equal in color and decorations, have diagonal contradistinction. Very often the main way of organization of decoration is using of mammock or curved shaft.    Top

Leather products. One of very interesting field of kyrgyz national art is art manufacture of leather and things form leather. In the past, leather was used widely. After primary manufacture, leather was used for shoes and clothes (from ovine leather). Dishes for diary products (sabaa, kookor, konok, konochok) were done from manufactured and smoked camel leather. For making home needed things (wooden boxes, cases for caps and etc.) and horse harness (undertailers, shaffles, girths, belts, thongs) were used from leather of cattle, camels, horses. The dishes for diary products were made by women. The cases for caps (piala) were done by men. Horse equipment was done only by skilled workers (usta).
While decoration of leather products different ways of tracing of decoration were used. The most simple way is pressing the decoration by wooden stick on the  damp leather with leather pattern atop. Bunchy decoration were done by tracing an image on the contrary side. By the way of hot emboss with metal form, the decoration was done especially clear. Besides emboss, the dishes were decorated with seams, embroiders with metal threads, bands, colored leather cutout. Very special interest is represented by leather cases for caps (pialas) - chyny kapy, different shapes, richly decorated, with embossed metal shapes.    Top

Horse harness. Kyrgyz people paid great attention to the horse equipment and the decoration of horse harness. The set of horse harness (at jabdyk) were often prepared for young girl and was an important part of dowry. The set of horse harness – it is entire, well – designed, finished art set. The majority of things, which are in the set of horse harness, are done from leather and metal, saddles are covered by leather, hammered  to the base with decorative nails and shape some design. Very often the saddles are decorated by leather colored cutout and open-work silver shapes. Sweater – clothes and caparison are decorated by bright embroider (some vegetable motives and solar) and huge racemes - effective decorations and mascots-defenders.
The sweater-clothes – terdik - is paid special attention and covered by ornamented leather and designed by embossing and silver buttons.
Some metal parts of harness are also very interesting: a snaffle, cinches, chest plate, part under tail are very decorative. They are decorated by metal parts, covering the connections of straps.  These metall parts can be flat and bunchy, covered by black color with embossed decorations and hatchings. A whip – kamcha - is done with original art taste and consists of delicate handle and scourge, done from tightly weaved leather.    Top

Carving on wood. Kyrgyz art of working and decoration of wood by carving. The wooden dishes were decorated by carving (choichok, aayk, tabak), boxes for bread storage (yukok), sandyki (for dishes storage), musical instruments, cases for plates – pialas, (chyny cap, kasa cap), stands, yurta`s door and etc. Kyrgyz wood carving stands out with clarity and softness of some outlines, lending some charm to the decoration. Wood carving was composed with painting, fill, silver enchasing. The main parts are circles, mating horny scrolls, whirly nozzles, rhombs and other geometrical motives.    Top

Jewelry hand works. The decorative manufacture of metal - it is one of the most ancient kind of national kyrgyz art. Especially popular amongst people some works from silver - white metal. The words ak means in kyrgyz language not only white. Ak - is truth, aesthetic idol, deity. Initially, the possession of silver for kyrgyz man was as touching something sacramental, bequeathed by ancestors. It became as a jewelry later, but it served as guard from vicious pitches and at the same time alluring  people by its embodied in metal beauty.
The art metal manufacture was the pure manlike work, but craft women are also famous as zergery (jewelers). Kyrgyz jewelers used different kind of polishing of metal: hatching on silver and iron, pressing, stamping, open – work carving, granule like carving, enamels.
Jewelers decorated horse harness, man`s leather belts (kemer), created women silver decorations, which were necessary parts of national suit. Women wore different decorations according to age and social state. Jewelries had different purposes. The quantity of jewelries depended from the riches of family. Some young women and girls wore a lot of decorations. There are a lot of head and braid finery. The braid hangers (chach ushtuk) – the most precious finery.
Some temporal and breast finery (soiko, jel-burooch) are also interesting and  peculiar and were worn in some state cases. The decoration consists of two big cones with some hooks, weaved by silver wire and connected by the chain with tiny, similar to a leaf shapes. The chains are usually connected on the chest by mascot of triangular or rectangular forms, decorated by some patterns and semiprecious stones.
Silver rings and seal-rings (shakek) are very simple design and often have oval and rhomb shape in the center. Bracelets (bilerik) are often unclosed – weaved or flat, decorated with diagram pattern.
Some buttons (topchu) differ with a diversification of forms, served as a fastener and adornment of clothes.    Top

Tradition kyrgyz clothes. Kyrgyz clothes are characterized by many original traits, typical for nomad clothes.
The familiar print was done on the character of kyrgyz clothes by severe climate of high mountains country with harsh temperature swings. This fact requires the necessity in the different kinds of warm clothes, using even in the summer period. The permanent cold and absence of warm habitation makes nomad always wear warm clothes: cotton gown and sheepskin coat. The natural character of kyrgyz mode of life influenced hard on the clothes of basic part of populace.
The basic parts of man’s underwear in XIX century were shirt and wide trousers. The shirt jegde was sewed from white unbleached calico. The design was such as a tunica and some knocked scotches were sewed up to the side edges, the length was beneath knees, the sleeves closed hands. It was accustomed to sew some decoration as keshtek.
Djegdae was worn since age 6-7 and wasn’t changed till the end of life. The shirt was worn upper the wide trousers and with was girdled.
The shirt with cut shirtband got wide spread amongst kyrgyz people since XX century (uzun jaka).
Characterizing man’s underwear clothes, tunica with horizontal shirtband is noticeable - tuura jaka koinok with some strings or buttons on the shoulders. Thes shirts were worn by small boys before they wore jegde. Mullacha - cleric`s suit with horizontal line around collar and decorated with stripe. The men trousers were sewed from different material: unbleached calico, home made fabrics, goat and sheep leather, velvet, cotton fabrics, cloth.
The type of clothes – gown - was very diverse. It was indecent to go out without the gown. In the cold time men usually wore chapan, chepken, ton, ichik.
Kyrgyz people as all people of The Central Asia have a sheepskin coat as an overgarment. It was typical man`s clothes.
A fur coat ichik was winter clothes in rich families. It was done from otter`s, fox`s, wolf`s fur and worn without collar. Ichik was holiday clothes and worn very rare. The felt clothes of type of a raincoat (kementai) were amongst herdsmen in the North of Kyrgyzstan, especially during the cold time of year.
The necessary part of man suit is belt, the overgarment was girdled by means of it. The most wide spread belt was - kushak - belboo.
Scarves were used for this purpose in the south of Kyrgyzstan. Some rich people worn wide leather belts with silver finery, massive buckle, reminding ancient turkic composing belts.
The ancient national hat tyubeteika (burma topu or takyya) is included in  the set of suit of kyrgyz and uzbek old people.
It is a variety of tyubeteika - arakchyn, is as caudal hat, wearing under the upper hat - kalpak. Sallya - a turban in the west parts of Osh district. In the south of district the turban is called as selde and worn by clerics and old people during namaz. It is done from white fabric ystambul, daka.
Kalpak is also ancient white felt hat and inalienable part of national attire.
The basic parts of female costume are underwear dress and wide trousers. There are some traits for dresses last and beginning of our century: they were done long, till feet, sleeves were designed longer that hands.
The dress cutting was tied up by strings (while coming over for holiday, women fasten a piece of fabric to the end of cutting, which plaid a role of a wipe) and tied it with silver fibula. The bridegroom wears it first time and never took off until send of her life. The fibula was always bequeathed.
 A skirt beldemchi with a gash ahead, dressing up on the some dresses is unique and organically bounds with kyrgyz female national suit. In the past this attire was a necessary part of every kyrgyz .The prerequisite part of beldemchi is belt bash beldemchi. It was girdled around a waist and tied ahead by strings or buttons. It is always wide (6-18 cm), its length outreaches the waist, done from felt (cotton wool), covered by black fabric (usually velvet).
The skirt with cutting (etek), done from thin layer of wool, was sewed to the belt. Beldemchi is clothes of married woman and worn after giving birth to the first child. Under nomadic mode of life conditions it was necessary, coz enabled a woman to move free, defenses from cold while riding the horse. It has an embroider, was done by silk seem ilme. The decorations were diverse, consisted of quirks kochkorok.  Beldemchi was sewed from black and colored velvet - red, green, blue or bright, striped, patterned uzbek fabrics.
Ichik is also ancient woman clothes, even it was included into man`s wardrobe.
The design was similar. The most wide spread kind of female clothes was also chapan. Later chapan began to be done with cut waist part of back. These clothes were done from colorful half -silk fabrics. In XIX century in the south of Kyrgyzstan there were hats of conic form shokulo. It was sewed from red or crimson fabric or velvet, cotton wool or felt.
Shokulo has view of a helm and consists of a conic hat (height 25-28 sm) and sewed rectangular ear pieces and triangular part, coming down on the back.
The commonest hat for women in 19 and 20 century was elechek (turban). In the south it is called elechek, ilecki, kalan. It consists of seversal parts: helm-hat, coral hangers, kerchief, turban, finery and upper kerchief.
The tightly bound hat ken takyayl had straight forehead line, from side the earpieces (jaak) were coming down, and a long stripe was sewed behind (kuyruk), coming down together with braids. The size of turban depended from owner’s income. Some rich kyrgyz women did turban from 20-30 meters of white fabric and they reached the huge sizes.
Some finery of different shapes was attached on the top of turban.
In 1930 years, when a woman began to work in public sector of work, turban went out of use. The kerchief began to be the basic woman’s and girl’s decoration.    Top

Clothes are often decorated with embroider done by colored threads (velvet skirt-beldemchee).
Endless bags, cases, towels-sulgu, small bags, done with a high taste and skills, were important yurta decorations, demonstrating the mistress`s skills, her industry and her longing for beauty.
The conspicuous part of creation of kyrgyz craft woman is weaving. Decorated band from woolen threads for tier of body and barlings of yurta. The weaved bands-jelebo, they usually decorate tunduk. The weaved band - tegareech, ornamented prodigally and gaily decorated. Tush-keeize and sweat - clothes are decorated with weaving and fringe. These things show the infinite of masters` talent, who have specific skills, methods, exactitude of counting, skills of weaving lace, making some knots by hands.    Top     

Kyrgyzstan travel