Bayan Olgii is a breathtaking region in Mongolia’s north western corner with glacier-capped mountains, crystal clear lakes, rushing rivers, eagle hunters and an eternally blue sky. It is also home to Mongolia’s 100,000 Kazakh people.
The finely embroidered wall hangings of the Kazakh people who live there express the rich traditions still preserved in the remote, windswept region. The hangings are full with the imagery of nature and the elements which herders experience day in and day out. Amongst the round rosettes, geometrical figures and zigzags are found multitudes of flowers, plants, ringlets, runners, stylised horns and animal motifs carefully rendered in wool or silk threads on dark backgrounds of velvet, silk, wool, cloth, felt and sometimes leather.
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Known as ‘tush kiyiz’ in Kazakh, and ‘arabch’ in Mongolian, they are given as marriage gifts and are hung on the inside wall of the yurt behind the marriage bed. On some it is even possible to find the maker’s name and the year of completion – occasionally you will find more than one name as sisters, mothers or grandmothers also contributed to the needlework.
Most of mine were made in the 70s and 80s. They always cheer me up and transport me back to the land of the big blue sky!