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About Kazakhstan / Arts / Craftsmanship / Carving

The developed types of Kazakh folk craftsmanship are wood carving, stone carving and bone carving. The most ancient monuments of stone carving are rock paintings. They are preserved in the rocks of the mountains in Central Kazakhstan, Altai, Tarbagatai, Alatau, on the northern slopes of the mountains of Ayaguz, Balkhash, Khantau, Karatau etc. Ancient stock breeders depicted animals on the rocks (koulans, horses, antelopes, ibex, argali, maral, bulls) and mythological topics, sacrifice rituals, worshiping the heavenly bodies and other.

Kazakhs knew carpentry since ancient times. Carpenters were divided into “uishy” and “arbashy”. Uishy (from the word “ui” – “house”) constructed summer and winter houses and yurtas, put some fanciful carving on the dome poles, on the circle of the vault, on the door of the yurta. Carpenters who made two-wheel carts were called “arbashy”. Carts were made mainly in the northern and north-eastern regions of Kazakhstan. It was due to the availability of forest (timber) in these regions. Carving predominantly used circles (symbols of the moon, the sun and the heaven vault, which was worshiped in the old times). Carving was used for decoration of furniture and household goods, cupboards, chests, supports etc. Wood carving was supplemented with paintings. Wood carving is wonderfully matched with the encrustation with figured plates made of bones. Bones were used for making plates in the form of circles, triangles, quadrangles etc.

Horns of argali, saiga antelope and bull were widely used. People used them for making snuff-boxes, bowls, scoops, as well as figured plates for the encrustation of the furniture, crockery and musical instruments.

Nowadays these unique things of the folk applied arts can be seen not only in the museums of Kazakhstan but also in the collections of other countries. Thanks to the revival of craftsmanship, many of these things are made for sales as souvenirs or for portable exhibitions where they represent traditional national artistic culture.

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