Nadezhda Dukhovny
Nadezhda Dukhovny

Ancient and Unique Uzbekistan: Karakalpak dresses

This photo is courtesy of the Territorial Department of the Republic of Karakalpakstan the State Committee for Tourism Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan

What makes a nation special?

Its originality and uniqueness.

Today I want to mention how Karakalpak wedding dresses looked 100 years ago. Kok Koylek.

This photo is courtesy of the Territorial Department of the Republic of Karakalpakstan the State Committee for Tourism Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan

Since ancient times, it was known that the Karakalpak girls were engaged in the preparation of their dowry, and especially learning to embroider, working hard on their wedding dress, applying the most unique patterns and outlines.

This photo is courtesy of the Territorial Department of the Republic of Karakalpakstan the State Committee for Tourism Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan

Although the color and shape of the dress were identical – made of a dense material of dark blue, called “boz”, a stand-up collar, long sleeves, but the pattern was different for everyone. Decorations and symbols were reproduced based on the tribal community of the family, and the character was also reflected, which laid the foundations even in the distant nomadic steppe.

This photo is courtesy of the Territorial Department of the Republic of Karakalpakstan the State Committee for Tourism Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan

The main motives of the patterns were waves of the sea, fish, wheat, wind, horns – in a word, everything that was enriched by nature and everyday life.

Silver items that adorned the bride were an integral part of the wedding dress.

For example, elongated earrings and “shar tyuime”, reminiscent of a nomadic yurt, were a symbol of home and comfort.

Mandatory was “haikel” – a talisman with decoration in the form of a “ram’s horn”, considered from ancient times to be a symbol of power and good. The silver breast ornament, which has many varieties from the simplest to the more expensive, was an elongated engraved plate, often with 7 pendants, and with the same number of rubies.

This photo is courtesy of the Territorial Department of the Republic of Karakalpakstan the State Committee for Tourism Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan

Gold, if used, was in very small quantities, in general – silver. Also, large rings with a carnelian insert, a nose earring – arabesque, massive bracelets (blesic) on both wrists.

This photo is courtesy of the Territorial Department of the Republic of Karakalpakstan the State Committee for Tourism Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan

⠀ The girls wore leather boots on their feet, which were very comfortable both in everyday life and when riding.

The simplicity of the coherence of clothing and jewelry is explained by the active nomadic life typical of the Karakalpaks. Being cattle breeders, they changed their habitats at different times of the year, in search of the best pastures for livestock.

This photo is courtesy of the Territorial Department of the Republic of Karakalpakstan the State Committee for Tourism Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan

⠀ Another feature of the costume of the Karakalpak woman was that the burqa was not typical for her. The woman’s face was always open, which is typical of nomadic peoples. And only the overhead cape “zhipek zhegde”, representing a wide cape with embroidered decorations along the edges, was used as a cape in hot summer heat or in a cool breeze. It was usually polished.

This photo is courtesy of the Territorial Department of the Republic of Karakalpakstan the State Committee for Tourism Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan

⠀ Varieties of “Kok Koylek” dresses and other adornments are kept in the Savitsky State Museum of the Republic of Karakalpakstan in Nukus.

The show of the Karakalpak national dress was presented last year at the International Festival of Cultures “Tyubeteyka – Oriental Bazaar”. The word “tyubeteyka” means “skullcap”. Annual Festival of Cultures “Oriental Bazaar” Skullcap” gets its guests acquainted with the cultural, artistic, and historical heritage of the peoples of Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, and Russia. The exhibition pays great attention to arts and crafts, preserving the traditions of peoples, as well as national cuisine and customs.

This photo is courtesy of the Territorial Department of the Republic of Karakalpakstan the State Committee for Tourism Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan

An integral part of the project is cultural education and demonstration of private collections with stories by art historians, screenings of films about masters, artists, and expositions of private and state museums.

This photo is courtesy of the Territorial Department of the Republic of Karakalpakstan the State Committee for Tourism Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan
About the Author
Nadezhda Dukhovny was born and raised in Uzbekistan and made aliya in 2005. She holds an MA in Linguistics from Tel Aviv University and works in translation. She has a true interest about her motherland and would like to tell more about that fascinating country to make Israeli readers familiar with another culture from other part of the globe.
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