I love when people who are originally from Kyrgyzstan or Kazakhstan write comments on my blog! They are authentic and informative. What a surprise for me to read a comment made on a blog I posted years ago about Kazakh carpets. Similar to this intensive labor of love, I am having informed ladies from my northwestern Minnesota community come and talk about the hard labors of making quilts at our Carnegie library in October. We will feature antique quilts that were made over a century ago, some are crazy quilts. But nothing compares to the back breaking work of creating a beautifully colored Kazakh or Kyrgyz carpet. I’m glad I have my Krygyz one that I bought 20 years ago and brought back to the U.S. and now featured in our old Carnegie library.
This is what 46 year old Pakiza wrote about from her experience of making a Kazakh rug:
“I am from the south of Kazakhstan. We used to make all kinds of rugs when I was growing up in my aul (small Kazakh settlement). The last time I took part in making a rug was 1984, just before I left my aul at age 17. Making a rug is a hard work. Weaving an average size kilem of 2.5×3.5 meters four girls takes minimum one month, working from dawn to midnight. Apart from four women weaving the kilem, it is also a hard work for a host lady feeding these girls well four times a day. So this is only the weaving process.
But the preparation process is even harder, starting from cutting the wool off sheep (mountains of dusty wool), washing, dying and drying, then sabau, we say in kazakh, this is repeatedly hitting the wool by small piles by thin wood sticks to make it more puffy), then the wool is pulled by hand. These work takes days and everyone would get involved here grown ups and children. The more helping hands the better, quicker. Otherwise it is extremely tedious. Then yarn is prepared (urshik iiru) which is also hand made throughout winter months (it takes many months!). It is a back breaking work but I enjoyed weaving it (avoided hand pulling wool, very boring). Now I miss those days. It’s a shame we stopped doing it nowadays; it’s because there are plenty of factory produced rugs (most of them are synthetics and not warm and cosy) available which they can buy. Easy. But these are synthetic rugs and not so soft, warm and cosy like our Kazakh rugs). But when I return to Kazakhstan one day, I will make a beautiful rug myself even if it would be a small one although it will probably be difficult to find women who would make yarns, the special yarns.”