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 pictures.
Wool is first or 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 on which a felt base has been stretched. 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 covered with a cloth so that it doesn`t move and sprinkled with
hot water 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,(with the hands, elbows and feet), kicked and frodden on for
several hours. This melds the wool togenter into a friable whole. The
mat is then unvound 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.
An Ala-Kiyiz carpet can vary in size- examples measuring 3m by 1m or 4m
by 2.3m, are quite common.
Usually there is a large central pattern surrounded by a narrow border
area. The pattern in the central area has a pattern surrounded by a
narrow border area. The pattern in the central area has a pattern with
horn-like curls,(called "muyuz"). A wide variety of colours are
used-such as reds, blues, brown, yellov and orange on a dark black or
Because the wool is not stitched, but is melded together by the process
used to manufacture them, Ala-Kiyiz are not such sturdy carpets as
Shyrdaks-lasting only about half as long-but they are quicker and
easier to make than to make and are more widely found than other types
It is possible to arrange demonstrations of traditional Kyrguz crafts
in several places-Ask if you are interested.