The inside of the yurt is divided into the modules; each of them, according to the tradition, has its own domestic function. Space near the door is called bosaga “босага” (threshold); it’s the sacral border between home and the outside world. The sacral center is “отау”, “otau”, “(fireplace). It’s the symbol of family happiness and was considered by Kazakhs as the holy place of their home. In front of the entrance, behind the fireplace, there was the place of honor (“төр”) for guests, honored people, and the elders of the family. It was the symbol of glory and wealth. The place of building family moorings marks the place that has “the most cultural value.” There is a Kazakh’s saying “Есіктен кipin, төрге озба” (“Don’t rush to the place of honor after you entered the house”), which means “know your place.”
The best felt and woven carpets were put at the place of honor to create a beautiful background. Different kinds of trunks (“жагланы”), felt suitcases, blankets and pillows for guests, carpets, and other everyday objects were placed on the stand (“жукаяк”). “Жастық ағаш” is the wooden stand for the pillow by a bed-side. Colorful patchwork wool quilts (“қурақ көрпе”) that cover over felt carpets and bedding bring color and coziness to the interior decoration.
To the right from the entrance, there is a female half of the yurt that was intended for placing different objects for household purposes, such as food supplies, tableware, and other utensils. “Кереге” was used to hang out jerked beef. A leather jar for koumiss (“саба”) on the wooden stand was placed nearby. Dressers (“асадалы”) and bins (“кебеже”) for storing food and products (tea, sugar, sweets) were placed there as well. A thrifty housewife could always find something to offer to the guests. Such a trait of Kazakh hospitality is an homage to the nomad’s tradition. Even the best goods in the house were stored as gifts to the guests in order to properly see them off. That corner ofter was separated by the screen made from Achnatherum.
To the left from the threshold, there as a male half of the yurt; the symbol of male origin. The symbols of a hunt, prey, and luck were kept there, such as horse harness, service and hunting weapons. During the winter, in times of cold weather, a weak or prematurely born lamb or another weak animal could be put there. To the right from the door, between the place of honor and the threshold, there is a place for old men and kids.
To the right of the entrance, closer to the place of honor, there is a place for newlyweds (if they didn’t separate from the parents). A wooden bed (“шымылдық”) decorated with engraving and separated by the curtain brings special colorfulness to yurt’s interior. If only one family was living in the yurt, that place was empty. Covered with felt or woolen carpets it serves as the place of rest during the daytime for the family members. Between the beds and the place of honor there are poles or racks (адалбақан) with the clothes hang on them. Hanging bags (goods storages, weathercocks) are thrown upon the heads of “кереге” at the left and the right side of the entrance. At the latticed wall, next to the bed, the carpets are stretched encrusted with felt, made of cloth, with embroidery pattern. Plated colorful figures made from cloth, silk or cotton fabric are sewed on the base of the goods.
One of the most widespread and favorite types of Kazakh arts and crafts is embroidery in chain-stitch (“бізкесте”). It’s widely used even nowadays (in velvet, fine cloth for felt winter wall carpets – “тұс киіз”, pillows – “кестелі жастық”, towels, tablecloth, napkins, etc). The museum collection contains the rich tuskiiz (wall carpets) decorated with rich cloth, embedding, and rich embroidery. At the edges, the carpet is trimmed with a twisted lace. The embroidery in chain-stitch, satin-stitch, and golden-stitch brings special elegance and richness to the tuskiiz. An n-section frame is a typical element of the tuskiiz.
Varieties of carpets are represented in yurt’s interior along with the traditional antique carpets, such as “текемет”, “сырмақ” and “алаша”. There are felt carpets for floors and walls, woven carpets noticeable for its outlandishness, special coloring, and decor. For Kazakhs, the most expensive carpet was “текемет”. People were judging the wealth of the yurt’s owner by that carpet. In the past, the felt carpet with the blurred pattern in blue, golden-yellow, red or natural wool color (white or brown) was one of the main elements of the bride’s dowry.
The felt carpet syrmak or shyrdak (“сырмак”) falls into four categories depending on its size. The biggest carpet “көш сырмақ” is 3 by 5 meters in dimensions; the second type “төсеніш сырмақ” is 3 by 3,5 meters; the third type “төр сырмақ” is 2 by 5 meters; the fourth type “төсек сырмақ” is 2 by 2,5 meters. In terms of color, the Kazakh carpets also fall into four categories: “ақ сырмақ”, “қарала сырмақ”, “жиекті сырмақ”, “дебіске сырмақ”. “Қарала сырмақ” is the most widespread type of the carpet; in order to make it, cut pattern figures of puffy white and black felt are sewed together. The edges between rosettes and borders are sewed with the lace line made from the multicolored wool. Altogether it looks like an item of high-quality. The most popular type of “сырмак” is “бітпес” (inexhaustible). It symbolizes the idea of the world’s infinity.
Read my previous post about carpet manufacturing process
There are metal lamps in the yurt. The most original one is a ceiling lamp “шырақ” that is hanged from the yurt’s ceiling. Processed leather of different animals served as the yurt’s decoration.
Despite a nomadic way of life, Kazakhs were using wooden furniture. Craftsmen cut simple in its form and few in its number tablecloth from a single piece of the wood. Most often they didn’t have any decorative engraving, which probably was due to their nomadic way of life. The furniture was comfortable, practical and suitable for nomadic life. Such furniture as “асадал”, “кебеже”, “жүк аяқ” (a stand for trunks) can be seen in the modern interior. “Asadal” is similar to a jam cupboard for storing products and tablecloth. It has four legs and a shelf between them. The upper part of the stack was made as a drawer with a lock. “Кебеже” is a bin for products. Front parts of it were encrusted with die and metal panels. Plated panels were used to decorate a whisk (“nicneк”) for whipping mare’s milk and big bowls (“шара – тегене”) for koumiss. Wood engraving goes well together with the incrustation with dice. Horse or camel bones, jaws, and ribs were used for that matter. Horns of wild rams, saiga, and bulls were widely spread as well. They were used in the production of snuff-boxes, bowls, scoops. In the process of encrustation of furniture, tablecloth and music instruments, figured panels with raised pattern were used.
The left side of the yurt next to the entrance is for toilet articles. A copper basin and a jug for washing procedures were located there. The process of ablution is a ceremony common for Muslims. Next to the yurt located in nature Kazakhs left a saddle. They put the robe made from horsehair around the base of the yurt to protect it from the insects and snakes. Not far from the yurt a place for preparing food in the summer time was located. Circle-shape stands for pots (“қазан – ошақ”), a tripod with a hanging teapot (мосы), a mortar, and other household stuff could be found there.The yurt adjusted to the nomad way of life complied with all the requirements of the nomadic life. It’s mobile, can be easily taken apart and quickly set up on a new side.
I hope you learned something new today.