The Kyrgyz Shyrdak

A carpet, not woven, not knotted, but felted from the wool of the mountain sheep, warming and soft, cut into ornaments and sewn together again using the mosaic technique. The Shyrdak is little known in Europe, rarely exhibited and rarely sold.

For centuries, women in Kyrgyzstan have felt these treasures as bridal gifts or as a warm ornament for their houses and yurts. Every region, every family and every felt master shapes his very specific style. Thanks to the long tradition and rich experience in felting technology, these carpets are outstanding. There is a canon of country-specific patterns, but every woman designs and varies according to her preferences for colors and ornamentation. That’s why every Shyrdak is unique!

How Shyrdaks are Made

Shyrdak means traditional felt carpets from Kyrgyzstan made by using the mosaic technique. The shining colors catch the eye, high-contrast colors and their expressive ornamentation (stylized animal horns, snow-capped mountain peaks, diamond shapes, flower garlands, etc.). The typical Shyrdak consists of a large or several small areas, the edge is made of ribbons of different widths. With scissors or a knife, two differently colored layers of felt (positive and negative) are cut out ornamental and with a double cable stitch sewn together. Sewing onto a natural piece of felt of the same size creates a soft, double-layer carpet.

It takes a whole year to produce Shyrdak: in the spring, the mountain sheep are shorn, by the way it is the only step in production that is carried out by men. Felting takes place in summer – a physically very exhausting process that takes many weeks. Coloring takes place in autumn and winter, sometimes natural colors (nut, onion, teas, herbs and grasses) are used. Then the creative part of designing, cutting and sewing begins. The felt production in Kyrgyzstan is extremely ecologically and economically efficient. All the necessary materials come from the rich nature of Kigistan, Shyrdaks represent the ideal use of the available resources.

We thank Ursula Meyer for this informative text!