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Among Kyrgyz nomads the beauty and the dress of the women reflected upon the honor of the group. If a Kyrgyz woman's clothes were remarkably beautiful, intricate and finely embroidered, then this would draw attention to the high status of her family.  It is recounted by the great Kyrgyz writer Chinghiz Aitmatov, in his book Mother Earth, that "the nomadic journey is a solemn procession that responds to a ritual need and an economic necessity. It provides a unique occasion to show to all one's most beautiful harness, most beautiful finery, the best horses of all, one's skill in arranging bundles on the backs of camels and wrapping up the baggage in carpets".

We are proud to share a priceless research essay by Klavdia Antipina from the book Kyrgyzstan (2006), about women's and men's clothing in the ancient Kyrgyzstan, the land of nomads. 


Courtesy of Ajara Shabdanova


Location: Grigoriev gorge (southern shore of the Issyk-Kul lake), The Kyrgyz Republic

feat. Tatiana Vorotnikova (neo-folk fashion designer, Bishkek)

Janat is wearing faux-fur headdress embellished with antique Kyrgyz jewelry and vintage velvet Ikat Chapan, from Golden Valley Collection.

Ethnography of the Chapan fashion in ancient Kyrgyzstan.

In summer and autumn, women replaced their heavy overcoats with a much lighter coat, the chapan, which very much resembled those worn by the men. The chapan is a long coat, with very long sleeves that cover the hands. Traditional Kyrgyz chapans are made from cotton, or beykasam, a fabric of half-silk and half-cotton, with colored stripes, and lined with cotton fleece and quilted. 
The style of this chapan by Tatiana Vorotnikova, would be called the Beshmant , a coat influenced by the Russian style, with modern cut, fitting the body but leaving freedom of movement. This coat was made from brightly colored fabrics, most often velvet. In the south, under the influence of the Uzbeks and Tajiks, women used beautiful multicolored silks, adrass and velvet from Bukhara. Beshmant coats was also worn in the area around Talas,  the Chou Valley and in the Issyk-Kul region. For festivals, women from rich families would secure this coat with leather belt.

Text from the book "KYRGYZSTAN", Antipina, K. (2006),
Place of Publication: Skira Editore S.p.A., Italy. 

feat. ALTAI OSMO x Tatiana Vorotnikova.

Aisha is wearing faux-fur headdress embellished with antique traditional silver jewelry and corals by T. Vorotnikova, a velvet scarf with artisan made tassels, sheepskin collar decorated with antique Kyrgyz silver jewelry by ALTAI OSMO x South Tribes and vintage velvet Ikat Chapan from Golden Valley Collection.

Hairstyles and headwear 

The different stages of life of a Kyrgyz woman were traditionally signified by her clothes and her hairstyle.

On set we imitate the heavy turban of the married woman.
A year after her marriage, or after the birth of her first child, the young woman was considered to be well integrated into her new environment, her new responsibilities and her new family. 

A full research is published in the book "KYRGYZSTAN", Antipina, K. (2006)

Hairstyle and headwear.

... From then on she would plait her hair into two long black braids falling down her back and hidden in an embroidered plait holder, this was long and narrow, made from black velvet, ending in fringes decorated with pieces of silver plate, silver ornaments, mother of pearl buttons and tassels or pom-poms. Hair, which had an erotic charge, potentially threatening the social order, in this way stayed hidden. The head, sacred and through which passed down the benefits of the gods, was thus specially encircled and protected.

Each group of Kyrgyz, whether from the north or south, have its unique version of the different heavy turbans which the women wore. This turban also represented a sign of social status: the richer the family, the longer and more richly decorated with ornaments the turban was.

Clothing materials and fabrics


Felt is one of the most ancient materials used in Central Asia. It is very dense, and is impermeable to wind, rain and snow. It provides excellent temperature insulation and is waterproof. Among the Kyrgyz, and many other Central Asian nomadic peoples, it is used for the covers of the portable nomadic home - the yurt (boz uy) - as well as for decorative floor coverings, carrying bags, different items of tent furniture and for various horse accoutrements. For clothing, felt was traditionally employed to make a special kind of felt overcoat, as well as the shepherd's cape.


Aigana is wearing nuno felt two-piece suit, decorated with Bengal tiger hand felted print.

The two piece suit has free size felt coat and inspired by the traditional Kyrgyz over-skirt beldemchi felt apron-skirt.  

To make felt,

sheep's wool (always shorn from live animals) is beaten, then spread out in the sun on a mat. The "blanket" of wool, from 4 to 6 cm thick is sprinkled with hot water, rolled up in the mat, and then pressed and rolled forwards and backwards for a long time in order to shrink and bind the fibers together. The woolen sheet becomes felted after several hours' work.

A full research is published in the book "KYRGYZSTAN", Antipina, K. (2006)

Inspired by the ancient nomadic traditions

Aikin is wearing vintage velvet Suzani embroidered jacket from T. Vorotnikova's collection and hand-felted wrap skirt - beldemchi by ALTAI OSMO.


Beldemchi, the embroidered apron-skirt

It was presented to a young woman by her mother. A year after the wedding, and especially after the birth of her first child, the daughter traditionally would make a return visit to the yurt of her parents, leaving off her tall bridal headdress and instead wearing the apron-skirt of a married woman. On this occasion, she would receive some head of livestock from her father, the enchi, that part of her property that comes back to her from her parents. This occasion, and the wearing of the beldemchi, market the transition of the young woman who, having borne a child, was now fully integrated into the community.


On Aigana a headdress from Karakul fur collar decorated with antique silver jewelry, and a two-piece nuno felt suit with oversize jacket and a wrap skirt embellished with hand felted Bengal tiger print.  

feat. Tatiana Vorotnikova

Köynök, the tunic-dress

Women's dresses were often decorated with embroidery. The most beautiful dresses were tailor-made from expensive fabrics, such as satin or silk. Young women wore red tunics, the color of fertility, while the most senior women made up their dresses from white cloth or more sombre colors.  

This type of tunic-dress was found among all the people of Central Asia and Kazakhstan, with a multitude of local variations in cut, type of cloth used and ornamentation .

First fashion trades in Kyrgyzstan

In the bazaars from the middle of nineteenth century onwards one could find cotton cloth and silk from Russia; from eastern Turkestan including Kashgar, Yarkand, Khotan, the Turfan oasis, Khuldja; from western Turkestan originating from Tashkent, Bukhara and Khiva; and from the Khokand Khanate, including Khokand, Namangan, Andijan, Margelan and Khodjent.

feat. Tatiana Vorotnikova

Aikin wearing the vintage embroidered velvet jacket


On Janat a velvet Ikat kimono, panne velvet tunic-dress/top, wide-open leg pants. 

feat. Tatiana Vorotnikova x ULUSHA ZHOL

Women wore the fashion of Bukhara and oriental Turkestan, wrapping themselves in huge hand-printed silk scarves. Silver jewelry decorated with coral, cornelians, mother of pearls or irregular pearls made its appearance, originating from Bukhara and Kashgar.

feat. Victor Syrnev (jewelry) x ALTAI OSMO


feat. Tatiana Vorotnikova x Ulusha Zhol

feat. Tatiana Vorotnikova x ALTAI OSMO

Special thanks to Ajara Shabdanova for inspiration and idea. 

Huge shot out to the best creative crew from WANT photo studio, IZZZO F&LCA, to our fashion partners, to the coolest driver and lot's of love to all ladies who joined us for this beautiful photo project.

Watch behind scenes THE MOTHERLAND.
Vlog - Part I.


Gift Book "Kyrgyzstan" Antipina, K. (2006)

All text is from the most unique research essay on the people of Central Asia, and especially the Kyrgyz nomads, their culture, traditions and socio-economic growth through 19th century.