The centuries-old cultural tradition of the peoples inhabiting the steppe expanses of Central Asia, Kazakhstan and the foothills of the Tien Shan includes the mastery of wool processing and the art of carpet making.
The exhibition presents carpet products of several closely related ethnic groups-Kyrgyz, Kazakhs, Turkmens and Uzbeks. In their culture, the traditions of the ancient nomadic population of this region have been preserved to the greatest extent. Occupying independently different territories, they created their own special carpet products in form and purpose for the device and design of a portable nomad dwelling-a yurt.
The most necessary item for the equipment of the yurt was felt. They covered the wooden frame of the yurt, covered the floors. Felt carpet was made by felting, in which the sheep’s wool was rolled and compacted in the form of a strong cloth, resistant to climate changes and moisture penetration. It was also used to make clothes, bedding, bags, bags and other items needed in everyday life.
In the exhibition you can see the best samples of felt carpets from the museum’s collection, created by the masters of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan-syrmaki and shirdagi. These carpets were made of multicolored felts in the technique of inlay or mosaic, sometimes applications, for which patterns were cut from cloth or cotton fabric of contrasting color. Especially elegant look carpets with a complex and finely worked pattern, containing the largest number of colors. The pattern of felt carpets mainly consists of abstract forms in the form of a shamrock with numerous branches connected in various complex figures-variants of the traditional pattern of “ram’s horns”.
Similar patterns, endowed with the magical power of the amulet, can be seen on other carpet products of Kyrgyz and Kazakh craftsmen. Ornamental ribbons for pulling the rods of the yurt frame-bau( Kyrgyz), baskur (Kazakh) – were made in the pile or lint-free weaving technique, as well as combining both weaving techniques – terme (i.e., combined). For a special strength, the base of the ribbon was woven from white cotton threads, and the pattern was made of multi-colored wool. Several wide ribbons sewn together served as a carpet for the floor, a bedspread, or a decoration for the central wall of the yurt.
Pile carpets in Central Asia were woven everywhere on horizontal looms of a simple type with the help of a small set of tools. The machine consisted of several wooden beams connected to each other, dug into the ground. They were stretched with warp threads, on which rows of pile knots were tied, which were fixed with weft threads.
Carpets made in the same way were distinguished by a great variety of local traditions.
In the foothills of Uzbekistan, a completely unique type of carpet with a long fluffy pile resembling the skin of a bear was created. Hence the name “julhirs”. The unusual thickness of the fabric structure and bright colors gave the impression of warmth and comfort in the nomad’s home. The pattern of the carpet includes motifs of abstract and plant origin, embodying the life-giving forces of nature.
A characteristic feature of Turkmen carpet weaving was the presence of a whole set of carpet products for the design of the doorway of the yurt. From the outside, the entrance to the yurt was covered with a small ensi carpet. It served as a luxurious decoration of the facade of the dwelling. On the inside, the doorway was decorated with a lighter product, a rectangular shape-a kapunuk, consisting of a ceiling strip and numerous threads descending to the floor, decorated with rows of colorful brushes and beads. They brought a festive, decorative beginning to the appearance of the yurt. The floor of the yurt was covered with mats, and on top of them with khala carpets, which are distinguished by the subtlety of weaving and elegant pattern, thanks to which the works of Turkmen craftsmen received world recognition. The carpet decor consists of a rapport of two types of radiant rosettes-gels and a special color scheme that shimmers with all shades of red. Therefore, the carpet adequately occupied the central place in the yurt, highlighting the place of special significance associated with the traditional image of the home.
Nomadic life defined the variety of carpet products such as bags and bags, which were widely used for storing and transporting all kinds of household items: food, tools, dishes, clothing. Some nomadic peoples had carpet bags and bags that were different in terms of manufacturing technique, shape, and purpose.
Turkmen sacks of chuvals and mafrachi replaced the furniture in the house. They were placed near the walls of the yurt as chests, placed one on top of another, or hung on the walls.
Kyrgyz bags are of two types: chavadans in the form of a long roller and rectangular in the form of an envelope-bastyks, which could be used as pillows or seats.
Almost all products were woven from two pieces of fabric. One side of the bag was made in the pile weaving technique and decorated with a traditional pattern. The reverse side consisted of a piece of smooth, unornamented fabric. The edges of the bags were decorated with colorful cords, fringes and tassels.