Pile weaving

Teasel weaving holds a special place in the rich and diverse heritage of Kyrgyz people. Piled carpets are original, colorful and very popular. Carpets have their own stylistic traits, creating a harmony of patterned motifs of a variety of colors. This type of weaving was predominantly spread through out the southern parts of Kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyz piled items of various sizes were used for different purposes. Small bags were used for storing clothing and household articles, small carpets, horse harnesses, and a long band called tegirich used for decoration of the yurt.

Large piled carpets called kilem were always of a great value. Their size was approximately 150×300 cm. Kilems were widely used. When moving to another place, they covered a loaded camel with a carpet. Carpets were laid upon felts and mats on the floor of the yurt at weddings, funerals, celebrations and when receiving guests. The carpets were stored faced down on Juk – the central part of the yurt.

Till present days the traditions of carpet weaving are kept by craftswomen called cheber, who have been involved into this manufacture since they were 9-12 years old. Gifted craftswomen who wove patterned carpets were always respected. Many of them could also roll felt and were excellent needle women.

Kyrgyz carpets were famous for high quality and durability. They were mainly made of wool, but some were made of cotton.

Wool of a sheep, goat or camel was used to wave carpets. Preference was given to camel’s wool because of its strength. Sheep’s wool of grey or brown color is used for making warp, weft and pile. Coarse wool is used for warp and a weft. Soft wool is used for making a pile; sometimes the used white goat’s fluff for the pile.

The lengthwise threads of the carpets are spun and twisted very tightly and evenly. They are treated in a special fashion to make them stronger resulting in a firm and thick carpet. The crosswise threads are not spun as tightly as the lengthwise threads.

The device used for making carpets was very simple. It was fixed to the ground and the frame was made of four wooden bars. Such devices were used through out the country.

Work started and finished with weaving a thick border 7-10 cm in width. It was usually a grey or brown color. Most carpets ended with long fringe of plated threads.

The tools of carpet makers are simple. This is wooden comb or tokmok used for adjusting threads of the weft and pile; a knife, or pychak applied for cutting thread of the pile; and scissors, or kaichy for leveling the pile.

Carpet making is accompanied by observance of some national traditions such us kilem ashar, which means to provide assistance in carpet making. Thus, a carpet maker is helped by several women. When the work is finished they are given presents and food.

The basic color combination of carpet consists of two colors – red and blue. This tradition is rooted in ancient times. Both colors have delicate and soft shades.

Kyrgyz carpet makers used plant dyes. Besides red and blue colors, they used orange, yellow, pink, green, brown and white to make the carpet vivacities.

Traditional peculiarities of Kyrgyz applied arts are also found in piled carpets. This includes succession of back ground and pattern colors and an interaction of blue and red colors.

The majority of piled items have a central field and a border. Each part has its own rules of ornamentation including fixed character pattern arrangement and certain color combination.

Kyrgyz piled articles are decorated with great variety. Pattern place a key role in decoration. It is variegated, and may utilize sophisticated and specific shapes, showing the close cultural interaction of Central Asian people.

Like other patterns, carpet patterns are stale, keeping with traditional shapes. At the same time, the constantly vary as new ideas are added by the craftsmen with each new carpet.