July 23, 2013

0761 KYRGYZSTAN - Komuz player in national clothes

The komuz (qomuz), an ancient fretless string instrument, is the best-known national instrument and one of the better-known Kyrgyz national symbols. It is generally made from a single piece of wood (usually apricot or juniper), has three strings traditionally made out of gut, and is used either as accompaniment or as a lead instrument in a wide variety of musical styles, including aytysh (a song competition between akyns), and the recitation of the lengthy verse epic Manas or other heroic and lyric poetry. The names of parts of the komuz are often allusions to body parts, particularly of horses.

The old man in the postcard wears a chepken, a dressing gown made from woolen homemade fabric, wide, long-flapped, with long and wide sleeves. In the northern Kyrgyzstan it has lining, but in south it is without lining. There are male and female versions of the chepken, all adorned with intricate threading. They are wrapped over the right side, which is typical for the clothes of the ancient Turkic nomads.

At Kyrgyz is strictly prohibited to go bareheaded, to throw the headdress on the floor, to forgot it or even to exchange it on something else. The most popular Kyrgyz headdress is Ak kalpak, a conical light-colored hat, embroidered with patterns in contrasting colors, made of four wedges of felt expanding downward, which aren't suited on the sides in order to put the pent up or down. It protects the eyes from the sun and face from the rain and snow. White, light wool keeps the head warm in wintertime as well as reflect sunrays in hot summers. Very hydroscopic fabric makes it possible to wear Ak kalpak all round the year even in hottest or chilling cold days.

They can all be folded flat for storage or carrying when not being worn. In some cases the brim may be turned up all the way around, and in some cases there is a cut in the brim so that a two pointed "peak" can be formed. Its outward appearance reminds the pyramidal shape of Khan Tengri. The Ak kalpak is the most "sacred" of national clothing for the Kyrgyz, and it has mystic qualities that many say they can feel when they wear it.


About the stamps
The first stamp, issued on 2003, was the seventh issued by Kyrgyzstan as independent state, and is part of a series of two stamps:
Burana tower, 12th century (0.50 KGS)
Manas’s gumbez near the river Talas (1.00 KGS) - it's on this postcard

The following two are part of the series National musical instruments, issued on November 26, 2011:
• wind musical instrument Surnai (16.00 KGS) - it's on this postcard
• percussion instrument Dobulbas (24.00 KGS) - it's on this postcard
• string bowed instrument Kyl kayak  (48.00 KGS)
• Kyrgyzjaw harp instrument Ooz komuz  (72.00 KGS)

Komuz - Wikipedia
Komuz Krisis, Folk Roots Magazine No.197, November 1999 - Kyrgyz Music
Traditional music and music instruments of the kyrgyz - sound.kg
Kyrgyzstan Culture Kit - The Center for Global Initiatives official website
Kyrgyz Clothing - Fantastic Asia
Kyrgyz Costumes - Wonders of Kyrgyzstan
The Ak Kalpak - Discovery Travel Magazine official website
The postage stamps of Kyrgyzstan - The State Enterprise Kyrgyz Stamp

sender: Anna Balaba (direct swap)
sent from Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan), on 04.05.2013
photo: V. Korolyov

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