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Decoration of a Traditional Yurt


A number of fine examples can be seen in a variety of museums around the country … in the Museum of Fine Arts in Bishkek, for example, or Kochkor, or Naryn. They contain examples of the simple, functional and beautiful craftsmanship of the nomadic Kyrgyz and are often highly decorated with colourful shyrdaks, chiy or tush kiyiz and a wide array of ornamentation.

Life in the yurt centred on the “kolomto” – the fireplace –, which was directly beneath the tyunduk. Behind the kolomto, near the rear wall of the yurt, just opposite the entrance stood the “juk” – where blankets, carpets and pillows would be piled up on chests or special props. The height of the juk was another indicator of the family’s wealth. The mistress of the yurt would ensure that the juk consisted of fine looking, thick “toshoks” – blankets and carpets. On hot, sunny days they were taken outside and spread on the grass to expose them to direct sunlight. Fluffed up steeped in the aroma of fresh mountain herbs they made a pleasant place to sleep. The place in front of the juk is called the “tyor” which served as a seat for guests of honour – “aksakals” – wise old men. In everyday life the head of the family occupied the tyor. Next to him sat his sons, whilst the area nearer the entrance was designated for the women – his daughters and the mistress of the ‘household’. These traditions were followed very closely and no Kyrgyz would violate the order (although there was no special ‘punishment’ for those who offended the established code of precedence).

On the right of the entrance was a space reserved for ‘women’s work’ – the “eptchi zhak”. It served to keep utensils and an area to wash dishes. The kerege here contained embroidered bags in which were kept needles, threads, needlework, knitting and nicknacks.
The part of the yurt reserved for men, the “er zhak” was located on the left-hand side. The kerege here contained harnesses, “kamtchas” (horse whips), hunting knives – all the necessary tools one would need to rear cattle, for hunting and handicrafts.

See a panoramic presentation (internal decoration of the yurt).