Art and handicrafts of Kyrgyzstan reflect traditions and nomadic lifestyle of “Kyrgyz”s and they were established during several centuries.
Needs of Kyrgyz nomads paved a way for the development of art and handicrafts in Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyz craftsmen were inspired by pure nature of Kyrgyzstan. The reflection of vibrant colors of beautiful landscape of Kyrgyzstan can be easily mentioned in the colors and patterns of felt carpets, embroideries. In the past items such as felt carpets or embroideries were made by many households and it was a part of nomadic people’s lifestyle. Handicraft items were used for personal uses and later on those items made by more skilled craftsmen were sold in the market.
Materials used by craftsmen while production were mostly natural such as wool, leather, horn, wood and etc. Dyes used in felt making or embroidery were extracted from leafs and roots of different plants.
Shyrdak is the most popular type of felt carpet in Kyrgyzstan and it is produced by sewing shaped colored pieces of felt. In the patterns of Shyrdak symmetric design is usually stressed while in the design of Ala Kiyiz (another type of felt carpet) more individualistic approach can be mentioned. It was usually used the patterns found in animal horns and in the ancient pictographs that pepper the Kyrgyz landscape Felt was primarily used to cover the outside of yurts and Shydrak was used to cover the floor. Thick felt carpet Shydrak do not resist cold and keep the floor warm.
Embroidery is the second biggest craft of Kyrgyzstan. The most popular embroidery in Kyrgyzstan is called Saima and it is primarily used as decoration by hanging onto wall. Kyrgyz people prefer bright and vibrant colors so reflection of this preference can be seen on the Saima embroideries. Design of Saima was inspired flowers, leafs or offsprings. Fabrics such as silk, sateen and velvet were used in the embroideries.
Another type of embroidery called Kurak is also plays a significant role in the art and crafts of Kyrgyzstan. Kurak is an embroidery made of leftover fabrics. Over the world there are equivalents to kurak and it is like a patchwork. The principal difference of Kyrgyz Kurak is that in the design of Kyrgyz Kurak geometrical elements are mostly used. In general embroideries were used to decorate the interior and were the significant part of bride’s dowry.