Discovery Kyrgyzstan
Discovery Kyrgyzstan travel guide #10/2008

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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.


CraftsWood 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 shyrdaks.

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 Kyiak.


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