Friday, November 2, 2012



A shyrdak is a colorful floor or wall covering handmade of stitched felt in the Tian Shen mountains of Kyrgyzstan.  The art is still alive in this nomadic culture. The shyrdak is usually designed with high contrast colors such as red and green, yellow and black, brown and white.

It takes the wool from approximately five sheep to make one shyrdak rug. The process is slow and labor intensive. Traditionally shyrdak rugs have been made by women. The collected wool is picked clean, washed, dried then dyed.  Once the wool is dried a brightly coloured pattern is laid on to a plain background. This is then soaked with soap and water rolled up and literally pressed. This process is repeated. Once the pattern starts to hold the rug is reversed, soaked, and rolled again. 

After some hours the shyrdak rug is left to dry. Two contrasting layers of felt are laid on top of one another and a pattern is then marked on the top layer in chalk. This is painstakingly and laboriously cut out. The knife has to be sharpened a lot because it will get blunt quickly cutting through thick layers of felt. The cut out creates a stunning positive/negative visual image usually full of symbolic motifs that represent things around the women i.e. the water, goat horns a yurt etc. The felt that is cut from the top layer is not wasted and is used to create another mirror image shyrdak with the reverse colours of the original shyrdak.

1 comment:

  1. If you are interested in Shyrdak and Kyrgyz handicrafts in general is for you.


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