July 21, 2012
0285 KYRGYZSTAN - Ala-kiyiz and Shyrdak, art of Kyrgyz traditional felt carpets (UNESCO ICH)
Currently there are approximately 4.5 million of Kyrgyz in the world, of whom over 3.8 million live in Kyrgyzstan, a landlocked and mountainous republic located in Central Asia (between Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and China), and become independent in 1991. Is believed that the name "kyrgyz" have been derived from the Turkic word for "forty", in reference to the forty clans of the legendary hero Manas, who united them against the Uyghurs, who in the early 9th century AD dominated much of Central Asia. The story about their origin is so important for the Kyrgyz, that on their flag is a 40-ray sun, a reference to the 40 tribes. Many legends talk about that (you can find some here), but I find the most interesting the one which tells that the daughters from several clans ended a war by dressing alike and asking their warring fathers, husbands, and brothers to tell them apart. When they fail to do so, the girls point out that they all one people and should not be fighting amongst themselves.
The Kyrgyz people are one of the ancient nomadic nations of Central Asia, and the lack of statehood for many centuries have made as the tribal features to keep till modern times, as a specific heritage of nomadic cattle-breeding. Many things about the organization, traditions and way of life of the kyrkyz can be find on the sites that I will specify as references.
Left image is the inside of an yurt, an ancient form of nomadic dwelling used throughout Central Asia, from Anatolia to Mongolia. It was (and still is) a fundamental aspect in the lifestyle of the Kyrgyz chaban (shepherd), which implying the travel from pasture to pasture. I can't to not notice that in Romanian language shepherd is said cioban (is read choben), word came from the Turkish çoban.
Easy to transport, erect and dismantle, the yurt is extremely practical and (as seen in picture) also highly decorated. Although in Kyrgyzstan people live now in settled communities, the yurt is still used and is still an important symbol of "hearth and home", a stable link with the past. A yurt is a bent wood-framed structure, which comprises a crown (tyunduk), supported by roof ribs, which are bent down at the end, where they meet the lattice wall, covered from the outside first by a sort of felt mat (chiy), then by a specially prepared thick felt (kiyiz) . Usually a yurt is covered by several layers of felt – tuurduk – each layer fixed by strong strings to poles dug into the ground around the yurt.
To prevent heat loss the yurts are lined with different variants of kiyiz (pressed wool carpet), such as ala kiyiz and shyrdak. The most prevalent type of felt carpet is the shyrdak, made in a mosaic technique, and considered to be more durable (it can last even up to 100 years). To make one medium sized shyrdak, a woman works about 2 months, if she works only on that, but usually the women work in a group. The most remarkable fact about shyrdaks is the multiplicity and richness of designs and ornaments, as seen in picture. Ala-kiyiz and Shyrdak, art of Kyrgyz traditional felt carpets was included on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding in 2012.
In the right of the postcard is an old man who, given the face expression, drink probably kumis, the most favorite beverage from Kyrgyz people. Kumis is fermented mare's milk and has a strong and bitter taste. To prepare kumis should let the mare's milk to fermented for 3 days, then mixed the milk with a fresh one, and it's churned. It's beaten with a wooden stick, called bishkek (as the capital city of the Kyrgyzstan), and becomes alcoholic. Kumis can be drunk only during 3 days after its production.
About the stamp
The stamp is part of a large set, named Civil Aviation History of the Kyrgyz Republic, which is divided into several series, each dedicated to an airport. This series, issued on May 24, 2008 and designed by M. Sagymbaev, is about Airport Frunze (now Bishkek), and contain 6 stamps with the same value (20.00KGS):
• Mi-4 - it's on the postcard
Kyrgyz people – Wikipedia
Kyrgyzstan – Countries and their Cultures
Kyrgyzstan – Nomad’s Dream
Legendary Origins – Postcard from Bishkek
Kyrgyz Yurt – Kyrgyz Yurt
Kyrgyz Apllied Arts – Kyrgyz Apllied Arts
Civil Aviation History of the Kyrgyz Republic stamps series – Nestor Publishers
sender: Guzel (direct swap)
sent from Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan), on 05.07.2012