Tush Kiyiz are a special case
in the use of embroidery. Embroidery was a very popular and widespread
craft practiced by women of all ages from the very young to the very
old and was more individualistic than some of the other traditional
crafts, because it didn't require a collective effort.
Many objects lent themselves
easily to embroidery: sashes decorating the cupola of the yurt, the
cloth covering the doorway of the yurt, bags, horse cloths, and
clothing. Head-dresses, in particular, with long flaps were highly
decorated. In the twentieth century even covers for radios and
television sets were often made and decorated with fancy needlework.
In the north of the country
women would often stretch the material on which they were working over
special frames whereas in the south, the material would be pinned to
the woman's dress stretched over a bent knee and the woman would sew
whilst sitting on the floor. Ornaments made from precious metals,
corals or other materials would often be incorporated into the pattern.
A variety of stitches were
used chain, tambour, whip, satin and buttonhole but please don't ask us
to explain the difference … it is better to look at several
examples and see for yourselves.
Some of the museums throughout
the country have examples of embroidery but very little dating from
before about the 1880"s has been preserved.
Wood carving is an ancient craft and the
Kyrgyz often decorated the wooden parts of their yurts, furniture and
utensils by carving and painting patterns on them. Objects such as the
juk where linen was stored, bread-bins, harnesses and saddle pommels,
containers, the pishkek used for stirring kumiss, ladles and
candlesticks would all have been decorated like this.
The wooden frame of the yurt
itself was not carved - but the kerege (the lattice work frame which is
stretched around the circumference of the yurt), the door, lintels and
doorjambs may have been carved with patterns and/or painted with
coloured clays usually red and/or blue. Quite often the working of wood
was a specialist skill, and performed by masters who worked "to order".
There were even (and still are) those who specialized in making spoons.
Originally patterns were
drawn freehand giving a greater degree of individuality and character
to each piece but over the course of time many craftsmen started using
stencils. Many of the motifs used are similar to those found in
Many different types of wood
were used varying in softness and flexibility.
An adze would be used to
create the basic shape, details would be created using chisels and
special sharp, curved, knives. As well as carving reliefs, other
techniques were also used such as turning and bending. Small children's
cups were made of cherry and plates were also turned on a lathe.
A special place went to those
craftsmen that produced musical instruments such as the Komuz and the