Metals artwork is one of the most ancient genres of Kyrgyz arts. In ancient times the kumush usta – which is Kyrgyz for silversmith was highly respected in the Kyrgyz society. Kumush usta was treated as a special person, a skilled creator of wonderful jewelry, and someone with the mysterious power over fire and iron.
Kyrgyz women always wore jewelry. Rings – shakek, ear rings – iymek, and bracelets – bilerik were decorated with various precious stones, cutting and engraving. A special and rigid restraint and the primordial integrity of metals and design are found in these articles.
The smiths and jewelers secrets and skills were passed from generation to generation. As a rule it was mostly male work, however, very often women were also involved in making jewelry.
To make jewelry items, Kyrgyz jewelers used silver coins, iron and silver from traveling merchants. They used various technical methods including forging, stamping, cutting, embossing, niello, engraving, laced and plated filigree, and grain.
In order to diversify jewelry decoration, smiths managed to combine various methods of decoration. For example, engraving is combined with niello, or filigree and grain are inserted with nacre and coral.
Ornamentation motifs of women’s jewelry are diverse and are differentiated by origin. Shaded triangles, intersecting circles, zigzags and four-petal rosettes are the simplest and most ancient patterns. Other ancient patterns include various radial and starry rosettes, bracket forms, and a "running wave". More modern designs include winding lines with sprouting scrolls, and cross-like shapes with horn-like scrolls.
Antique rings and bracelets look a bit restrained while breast jewelry called soiko jelbyroch, has sumptuous and rich look. The temples and breast jewelry were made by order and were passed from one generation to another. Brides were supposed to wear it for their wedding days. Also the most respectful and beautiful woman of the tribe wore it during seasonal removals from winter pastures based on lower altitudes to summer pastures. This supposes to personify the tribe’s wealth and hope for a safe way.
Only skilled silversmiths could create soiko jelbyroch. This splendid piece of jewelry is a quarter meter long. It is made of frivolous yet ideal combination of engraved conical pendants, differently shaped plates, plentiful annulated chains, and patterned petals arranged into clusters and fringe. A winding silver chain, corals and cornelian create a delicate harmony of colors and make shapes soft and melodic. This fine and complete composition creates a feeling of magnificence and richness.
Similar to the yurt with its many varied articles of decoration, horse harnesses are a complicated art ensemble of having numerous functions that carefully developed over many centuries. In the horse harness, one can find harmonious amalgamation of different types of applied arts for which a variety of craftsmen are needed. Jewelers and blacksmiths, felt makers, needle women and weavers are equally important for the creation of the horse harness.
Silversmiths used different methods of embossing, cutting and engraving. They made men’s belts kemer kur, to look vivacious and rigid at the same time. They used variety of decorative materials – metal plates with niello or embossed patterns, engraved plates, flat silver-plate brasses with colorful stones and corals – all which look magnificient on leather.