Kazakh National Clothing

Traditional KAZAKH Clothing

Kazakh traditional clothes, costumes and dresses have a long history that reflects the Kazakhs lifestyle and culture in the steppes. The region has very hot summers, strong winds and a bitter cold winter. Traditional Kazakh clothing was made of wool, cottony silk or velvet fabrics and outer garments were usually lined with fur. 

Throughout the years, Kazakh national clothes have been distinguished by simplicity and practicality. Nowadays contemporary Kazakhs tend to wear a lot of Western clothing but traditional forms of Kazakh dress are still very much in use still, particularly on holidays and special occasions. 

Kazakh Kalpak

Kalpak is a popular, usually white colored felt hat of Kazakh men. “ayyr kalpak” is another version of this hat which is decorated with precious fabrics or gold embroidery in the form of plant ornaments.

Shapan

Shapan or also called chapan, is a large long dressing gown. These robes are not as gender-specific as other clothes, and both men and women commonly wear them, but they are still considered more as a man’s clothing. Shapan is sewn from various fabrics and colors although most often in the main monochrome or dark colors that are lined with a layer of wool or cotton wool. Festive shapan is sewn from velvet, decorated with applications and gold embroidery. Such a dress was part of the clothing of rich Kazakhs.

Traditional Kazakhl man's costume

Saukele

A wedding dress called Saukele, was always been a very significant part of the Kazakh wedding celebration. A girl to be wed had to be suitably dressed while leaving her parent’s home for the house of her future spouse. In addition the bride had to wear several pieces of jewelry as each piece of jewelry had its own symbolic meaning. Saukele, as the headdress for the bride, was still the most precious part of the attire. 

Saukele has many inherent mythological symbols in the Kazakh culture and the most precious part of the attire. It serves as a symbol of the beginning of a new life and the memory of the former carefree youth. The

Kazakh Jewelry

For Kazakhs, jewelry was very important, it was believed that the ringing of metal jewelry scares away evil spirits. A woman could be without jewelry during a period of mourning.

Clothing like head wear and footwear were decorated with different pieces of jewelry.  Coral, pearl and colored glass was used to decorate gold, silver, copper and bronze jewelry of women. Earrings, flat and wrought bracelets, rings had national ornaments like flowers together with other beautiful patterns. Belts were a compulsory element of both male and female clothing. It was ornamented with embroidery and silver badges were sewn on it.

Takiya

Takiya is commonly worn by young women. The skullcap is a light summer cap made mostly of velvet. They were lined with fur and decorated with silver and gold braids. 

Kazakh national wedding dress. Ornaments and embroidery on fabri

Koilek

Kazakh grandma pours tea

Kazakh dresses for women are decorated with national ornaments and the colors of the dresses are in harmony with the surroundings of the pastoral region. Older women wear loose pleated dresses concealing their whole body, made of light-colored cloth or dark-colored silk fabrics or velvet with stand-up collars, embroidered with geometric patterns, that normally reach the knee.

Tymak

Eagle Hunter with his golden eagle

Tymak is a men’s winter time headdress, sewn mainly from the fur of a corsac, fox or marmot and combined with some fabric. This hat has a high crown, earpieces and a back blade. The outer part of the cap is covered with black ivy, the upper part is black chintz.

Kimeshek

Kimeshek is Kazakh and Kyrgyz headdress of married women made of thin white fabric, tightly fitting the head, covering the neck, chest, shoulders and back. Kimesheks cut differs according to the Kazakh tribes and clans as do the details on the head part, length and character of the ornaments. The kimeshek of young women was especially richly decorated with embroidery, colored stitching, braid and coral and pearl beads, silver plaques and other details.

Kamzol

Kamzol is a long vest without sleeves with embroidered national ornaments. Its length is usually below the hips and it is sewn mainly from bright velvet.

Old woman wearing traditional Kyrgyz clothes and elechek

Places to see Kazakh traditional clothing

Page updated 2.2.2022

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