Made in Kazakhstan. Part 1

Kazakh folk has always been famous for its textile-making traditions and applied arts. Using natural materials like leather, wool, and down, Kazakh women used to create not only clothing, but also home decorations, carpets, bedding, etc. The craft was passed from generation to generation, from mothers to daughters. In addition, all goods were embroidered with various ornaments, which were not only for decoration but actually represented the vision of the world, contained some messages for both people and spirits that the folk (originally pagan) were worshipping.

Traditional Kazakh ornaments can be grouped into four types: cosmogonic, zoomorphic, floral and geometric. Unfortunately nowadays the meaning of many of such ornaments is lost and cannot be decoded. However, modern Kazakh designers often look for inspiration in the traditional crafts and some even revive the ancient technologies.

Here three local projects worth checking.

  1. Aigul Line is a company named after its founder Aigul Zhanserikova, who strives to preserve and revive the nomadic craft of felting. Felt has always been praised for its protective qualities: it was highly useful against the cold and heat as well as protected from evil spirits and served Kazakhs throughout their lives. Aigul Line produces felt goods such as scarves, rugs, slippers, and other accessories. Huffington Post ran a story about her and wrote, “Aigul is breathing new life into a rich heritage of textile-making that was almost unknown to a new generation of globalized Kazakh citizens.”
  2. Kurak Korpe is a project that is inspired by another important Kazakh craft of patchwork – Kurak. This ancient technique of sewing patchwork-mosaics widely used in the manufacture of blankets (Korpe), striped rugs (Alasha), pillows and many other textile products. Kazakh grandmothers put all their love making colourful rugs and blankets. Kurak Korpe reminds us of the gone times by interpreting them in a modern manner.
  3. Kazakhssha leather Art Style manufactures leather bags, wallets, belts and other accessories, retaining the traditional style and decoration that the inhabitants of the steppes highly praised. Traditionally Kazakhs used leather for a variety of things: to make crockery, shoes, belts, wallers, sewed vessels for carrying water and storing koumiss.


A beautiful documentary about the craft of felting in Kazakhstan and Aigul Line made by Michal Shapiro, International Music, Culture and Travel Videoblogger.