Kazakh Crafts

Mongolia has a very large Kazakh population, mostly concentrated in the western aimags of Khovd, Uvs, and particularly in Bayan-Ulgii. They bring with them their own unique culture and outlook on life, as well as a treasure trove of traditions. Aside from the well-known tradition of eagle hunting [link], their handiwork is probably their most recognizable cultural artifact.

Wall hanging.
Wall hanging.

Their patterns can be found in colorful arrays on purses, wallets, bags, jackets, ties, shoes, and display pieces. One particularly coveted item are the Kazakh wall hangings. It will take an artisan a month to three months, sometimes a bit longer, to complete a single tapestry. The older the wall hanging, the better the quality, and the more treasured it tends to be. The older hangings also use different fabrics that have been treated with different dyes; newer ones tend to have brighter, almost neon coloring, while the older ones have a more subdued, but still incredibly colorful, palette. The wall hangings are never completed, so the bottoms are incomplete. The tapestries represent life, and they are left unfinished to represent chapters in your life yet to be written. They tend to be given as wedding gifts.

The curved patterns on most pieces represent goat horns. Goat horns represent luck and prosperity, as Kazakhs are also herders, and tend to have goats in their flocks. The more horns in your tapestry or other good, the more fortune is thought to come your way.

The different minority groups and Mongolian ethnic groups are truly fascinating. In particular, the Kazakhs bring a beautiful tradition and colorful craft to Mongolian life.


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