Kazakh National Crafts

Kazakh National Crafts

Kazakhstan has its unique folk crafts that originated in antiquity and developed over the years. Kazakh folk crafts were formed under the influence of the nomadic culture of the Kazakh tribes. The tough and harsh life of the nomads forced Kazakh nomads to independently make everything they needed for life from what they had at hand. 

Cattle breeding and hunting were the main job of the nomads, which is why products obtained from animals were used as materials for crafts: leather, wool, down, bones, horns of cattle, and small ruminants. All this led to the evolution of such crafts as felting and felt making, leather dressing, sewing leather and felt clothes, making carpets, and felt. The bones and horns of animals were used to make jewellery and some household items. Livestock leather and animal fur were used to make a wide variety of household items, from winter clothing and military armour to horse harnesses. Felt making is one of the most important and ancient Kazakh crafts.

Kazakh leather tradition

Leather was used to make shoes, in particular boots, because the nomads wore boots both in winter and in summer. Leather products were often decorated with embossing – this art was highly valued not only among Kazakhs but also among neighboring nations.

Kazakh wood crafts

Wood craft was another significant material that nomads worked with. From wood Kazakh made dishes, weapons, furniture, and other household items, parts for saddles, handles for working tools, various lockers, and chests were made of wood. 

All these items were often decorated with ornamental wood carvings. A special place in wooden crafts is occupied making Kazakh yurts and traditional Kazakh musical instruments

Traditional Kazakh wooden tableware with national ornament is sold on the street market.

Kazakhs wool and felt

Felt is made from wool using various methods to compress the wool fibers to form a thick, durable, and warm material. The raw wool is placed upon cloth, wetted, and rolled tightly. It is then rolled, traditionally by being drawn behind a horse.

Felt products and processing remains as one of the most popular crafts in the decorative art of the great Asian steppes like Kazakhstan and other Central Asian countries. It was a major craft in Kazakh nomadic life as well as a significant work of women. Felt in Kazakhstan used mainly for flooring as a carpet well as covering a yurt. In addition, you can get a Kazakh felt souvenir toy, warm slippers, vests, scarves and much more.

Kiiz

Kiiz is a simple felt carpet made of white, brown or grey wool, used as a foundation for making other products or to cover various parts of the yurt.

Syrmak

Syrmak is a floor carpet, made by designing on a basis (kiiz) ornamental patterns cut out of think multicolor felt which are then adjusted to the basis and sewed with color lace along the contour of the pattern.

Tekemet

Tekemet is the Kazakh felt carpet with inserted color patter on top of each other before rolling, different tribes in Kazakhstan each have their designs.

Tuzkiiz

Tuzkiiz is a wall carpet, made by sewing ornamental compositions on felt or solid color fabric like velvet or silk, and then sewing them to the felt basis.

Kazaks metal crafts

Kazakh national wedding dress. Ornaments and embroidery on fabri

Metals are another material that Kazakh artisans used for the craft, by melting metal and making tools, dishes, and weapons from it back in the Bronze Age. Now while excavating, archeologists have discovered a lot of deposits that have survived on the site of ancient settlements, where ore was mined and iron, silver, and copper were smelted. Many items were also made of native copper. Blacksmithing was an essential skill in the life of nomads: they constantly required horseshoes, stirrups, harness parts, and harnesses for horses, knives, weapons, and other tools. Although blacksmithing demanded a more settled lifestyle from the artisan, so forges were built and worked mainly in settlements and cities of the Great Steppe. Nomads often bought finished metal products from settled blacksmiths, rather than made them themselves. Blacksmithing and jewelry craft was developed in cities such as Sygnak, Otrar, Taraz, Turkistan, and others.

Additionally, Kazakh jewelers were common with many techniques: forging, chasing, stamping, and others. The main material for decoration was silver, less often gold. Silver was used to creating rings, bracelets, earrings and pendants, clothing details – buckles and buttons. Weapons, furniture, clothes, and other household items were often inlaid with silver.

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