Yurt in the life of the Uzbeks
Lattice yurta, covered with felt, so characteristic of the pre-revolutionary way of life of Kazakhs, Kirghiz, Karakalpaks and Turkmens, was widespread among semi-nomadic Uzbeks – in the non-irrigated zone it was often the only kind of dwelling. Yurt is typical for the part of the population that is related to the medieval nomadic Uzbeks of Dashti-Kipchak. At present, the yurt among the Uzbeks is, in one way or another, preserved in the Kashkadarya and Surkhandarya regions of the Uzbek SSR, mainly in the steppe and low-mountain areas with the sheep-grain-growing sector of the economy. Most of its distribution is in the Dekhkanabad and Baysun districts in the south of Uzbekistan and the adjacent Charshanguinsky region of Turkmenistan.
However, today among the Uzbeks of the yurt there is much less widespread than among the Kazakhs, Kirghiz, Karakalpaks and Turkmens. This is not explained by the fact that the tradition itself disappears, that if there are comfortable houses, the yurta is not needed, but by the fact that it is difficult to purchase a lattice skeleton for it. In Uzbekistan, there are no special artels for the manufacture of yurt lattices, as in Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan, and old masters leave, little or no leaving students. It is difficult to acquire benign felts, and in their own farm there is not always enough wool for their production in the large amount that is required to cover the yurt. These difficulties are largely due to a lack of understanding of the positive aspects of the yurt, a tendency to treat it as a relic of antiquity, an indicator of unculturedness.
Meanwhile, the researchers, referring to the yurt to the best achievements of the culture of the Turkic-Mongolian peoples in the past, justly consider it to be one of the most advanced types of portable dwelling. However, its merits are not exhausted. For steppe, semi-desert and desert regions of Central Asia, it is very important that in the yurt during the hot season it is cool. For the summer, the walls are covered only with a mat of reeds or chia, which can also be easily folded, so the yurt is well blown by the wind. Even in the calm, thanks to the presence of a high dome with a vent at the top, the air in it perfectly circulates. If the mud houses and brick houses, usually tightly closed in the summer heat, are always somewhat damp and musty (although cool), then the air in the yurt is exceptionally light and fresh. It is this quality that locals note as one of the best qualities of a yurt.
Yurt in Uzbeks is put on a well-tamped and slightly elevated platform. Due to this the floor of it is always dry. In addition, koshmy, carpets (woven of wool or sewn from sheepskin and goatskins) and cotton blankets covering the floor, reliably protect the inhabitants of the yurt from dampness.
The existence of the yurt (along with a settled dwelling) in the Baysun, Dehkanabad and Charshanguinsky districts is due to both economic and ethnic factors. Thanks to the pasture-pasture form of sheep breeding, the utilitarian function of the yurt as a portable dwelling continues to be preserved, and along with this, there are favorable conditions for manufacturing the most expensive part of it – felt cover. Thanks to the compact settlement and numerical superiority in these districts of the Kungrats (one of the largest ethnographic groups in the composition of Uzbeks, the most relics of the traditional culture of the semi-nomadic Uzbeks of the Dashti-Kipchak origin), the ritual function of the yurt as a wedding home is also retained here.
The preservation of the yurt ritual function is determined by its existence and as an everyday dwelling, because the wedding yurt continues to serve a new family and in the future, even if this family lives constantly in the village and its members are not shepherds. However, the functions of the yurt in such cases are narrowing – it is used mainly as a temporary (seasonal) housing, and the role of the permanent home belongs to a stationary house. In southern regions, the duration of use of the yurt is 7-8 months (April-October). Old people usually tend to extend their stay in it. In cold weather, they put sandalwood for heating, but they do not make a fire in the yurt, as it was in the past. By its design, the Uzbek yurt differs from the yurt of other peoples only in details. The description of them is beyond the scope of this article. In appearance, it differs from the yurta of neighboring peoples in that its felt cover is fastened with the help of non-arcanes, and wide white cotton tapes of domestic production. This gives the yurta an elegance. Inside the yurta, ribbons of the same designation are red, as are woolen ornamented tapes of various widths, by means of which parts of its wooden frame are fastened together.
The interior of the yurt was divided into three parts in the past (when it was the only type of dwelling): the space to the right of the entrance was assigned to the kitchen (not far from the entrance-the points, then on the low platforms or stones, and also in hanging bags – dishes, water, dairy products, bread, salt, tea), on the left – for a pantry (here bags of foodstuffs were placed, as well as items of mostly male use – saddles, harnesses, saddlebags, arches, various guns); between these two economic units, the largest space, covered with nightmares, carpets, sheep and goatskins, served as a place of sleep, food, needlework, and guests. Here, at the wall, opposite the entrance, they put up bedding and bales with clothes. Things were usually stacked in three stops (the number and height of these stops depended on the prosperity of the hosts), the basis of each of which served as a low wooden painted or carved locker or carpet bag, sewn in the form of a trunk and called a mammoth, maprach or direct. The family good folded in this way was called juk (literally – pack).
At present, the interior decoration of the yurt largely continues to be traditional. This is explained by the preservation of the yurta of its ritual function: in the wedding home, the dowry of the bride is housed, containing a set of objects established by tradition, and each item occupies the yurt assigned to him.
Relative stability of the interior of the yurt is facilitated by the presence of a permanent home, because it accommodates such new things as furniture and urban kitchen equipment, utensils, electrical appliances.
But the interior of the yurt does not remain unchanged. In cases where the yurta is a supplement to the main dwelling, there are no kitchen utensils and household items (these things take their place only in the yurta of shepherds on pasture pastures). In that part of the yurt, where in the past there was a kitchen, now usually stand a small cupboard with tea utensils and sweets, a sewing machine, a children’s cradle. In place of saddles and bags – a nightstand with a radio or table with books, a table lamp, and sometimes even a TV.
Juke is still the main ornament of the yurt. In it, however, there have also been changes1, mainly relating to the composition of things and especially the type and quality of the fabrics from which they are made. The place of wooden cupboards or carpet chunks of mappamach, which made up the base of the juke, now occupied the chests, the front wall of which is bounded with a tin and decorated with chasing and painting. In the 1940s, when the chests were not yet widely distributed, in connection with the loss of pile carpet weaving in a number of art districts, instead of a specially woven carpet mappamacha one could find embroidered or made of a piece from a large purchased carpet. The embroidered, as now on chests, reproduced an ornament, characteristic for carpet mappamacha.
Often on chests, you can see ornaments that are not typical for semi-nomadic in the past Uzbeks: archer on a galloping horse, a mountain goat in a jump or long-nosed kumgany. These subjects are sometimes interspersed with a pattern typical of Mapramach, as well as images of local ornaments. The manufacture of chests with such ornament is handled by the Laks, who work in the commercial co-operatives of the city of Denau and some other regional centers. Along with the chests and mappamachi, which make up the base of the juke, among the things stacked on them there are also suitcases of various sizes. In the chests are stored clothing, jewelry and other family goods. In the past, for folding these things in dzhuk served as cloth bags “buchcha” in the form of an envelope.
Among the soft things, the number of quilts quilted on cotton wool increased significantly. Their two types: large thick for shelter and long narrow for sitting on the floor. Stock blankets are used during the reception of guests. Blankets for shelter are usually placed in the juke, folding 2-3 pieces in a pile and wrapping in a specially designed large piece of square cloth – “buggjama”. In the past, it was made from a striped wool homepot like a palas tree, but made of finer yarn. Such “buggjama”, which has been inherited from mothers and grandmothers, can still be found in almost every home. One of its corners can be trimmed with woolen or silk hand-woven lace with fringe. This angle when wrapping things “envelope” remains outside and hangs freely on the front wall of the unit. Now bugjama is made of satin red or burgundy color. This corner is decorated with embroidery and framed by a wide ornamented woven or embroidered braid and silk lace with fringe. From the sides of this corner, one wide embroidered ribbon hangs with brushes at the ends. These tapes are called “bugjama kul” – “buggjam’s hand”.
It should be noted that in recent years the bugjama has begun to lose its utilitarian purpose and turns only into a decorative object: since blankets are made from bright and expensive fabrics, they prefer not to wrap them in bugjam, but leave them open. Alternating with colorful cushions, blankets themselves have a decorative function. Bugjama is folded to the top of the juke; her embroidered corner, hanging down, only partially covers the blankets.
Blankets for sitting also try to make of bright and expensive fabrics (satin, satin, plush) or the top of them make sewn from multi-colored pieces of fabric. Quilts are distinguished by their great decorative qualities due to the skillful selection of pieces of fabric according to their color and the creation of various geometric patterns from them.
Particularly colorful juku attached to numerous pillows. They are of two types: rectangular, serving for laying under the head, and oval (rollers) to rest on them while sitting on the floor. Decorating them with bright embroidery or inlaid with shreds of different colors is one of the most prosperous types of applied arts of the Uzbeks.
In the yurt of the newlyweds, each foot of items in the juke is cross-crossed with patterned woolen braid or a ribbon sewn from pieces of fabric, protecting the magically dwelling of the young family from the evil eye.
Ornamented lint-free carpets, sewn from narrow strips, are still in great progress, but their decoration is now less diverse than in the past, and they are used primarily as bedding. The most common are the palaces, in which the ornamented and smooth stripes alternate. In the steppe part of the Kashkadarya region, as in the Samarkand region, there is a widespread production of sewing high-end carpets of julhirs, as well as the production of all-metal carpets of Arabi, which in the past was typical only of the Central Asian Arabs, is becoming increasingly widespread.
In addition to the carpets and high-carpet rugs used for carpeting the yurt floor, there are felt carpets with a rolled-in pattern. The production of such types of ornamented felt, as mosaic and embroidered, is now lost. Some of their high-quality specimens, which were taken from grandmothers and great-grandmothers, are kept in jukas as family relics.
In much less use, nowadays the floorings are made of skins. But they certainly are in the yurt of the old people – they are soft and warm. Especially like the old people to sit or lie down on them near the yurt or at home in the autumn days, when the sun does not fry, but gently warms. In the mountains between Guzar and Baysun, where the majority of the semi-nomadic Uzbek population belonged to the Kungrat tribe in the past, the mosaic carpet “Hasali Pustak” of ritual purpose sewed from red, blue and yellow colored sheepskins is being blown up – it is placed on the newlyweds’ bed.
In the past, typical for the Uzbek yurt, as well as the homes of other nomadic and semi-nomadic peoples of Central Asia, was the presence of small carpet, embroidered, wicker and leather hinged bags and bags that replaced the niches, shelves and cabinets of a settled dwelling. They were hung over the upper end of the grilles forming the wall of the yurt. They had different purposes: for wooden spoons and dishes (bowls, cups, dishes), salt, tea, toilet and sewing accessories, scissors used for shearing sheep. All these items were artistically designed and often represented works of folk applied art, distinguished by their exceptional decorative and subtlety of execution. Many of them decorated the kitchen part of the yurt.
In the yurt of the newlyweds, and in the rest on the days of the holidays, purely decorative small embroideries were hanging out. As their names, sizes, shape and ornament show, these embroideries were the same bags and bags that listed above, but lost their utilitarian functions as the Uzbeks moved to semi-nomadic and settled life. A purely decorative role led to the high quality of these objects: they were executed on thin red or black (occasionally on dark blue and brown) cloth, velvet or bike, embroidered with natural silk, dyed with vegetable dyes, ancient copies of these embroideries can be placed on a par with the best samples of embroidered products from Karakalpaks, Kirghiz and Turkmens. Uzbek embroidery of this kind is especially close to similar products of Kyrgyz in the south of Kirghizia, which was noted by KI Antipina.
In the yurt and now you can find an embroidered tea bag, carpet bag for salt, a toilet bag, a barbecue for a horse, and an indispensable carpet rake for riding a horse or motorcycle. Yurt of the newlyweds is still decorated with small wall embroideries imitating the above hinged bags and bags. They, like the items listed above, are included in the dowry of each girl. The former fineness of needlework is now, however, lost. The missing number of these embroideries (in dowry there must be a certain number, certainly an even number) is often supplemented with a piece of expensive local fabric (satin, adras), trimmed fringe or modern purchased embroidery designed for cushions. The ornament of the embroidery made at home, while remaining at its core traditional, includes new motifs, which absorbed observations and impressions from modern life. The most popular are the images of a five-pointed star, the opened box of cotton, the dove of the world, the flying rocket, the symbol of healing (the snake curling around the bowl), and others. In those cases where embroideries with new content have a dark (black, brown) or red background and their general coloring is sustained in traditional tones, they do not violate the artistic integrity of the yurta’s decoration. But in recent years, small embroideries of a completely different style and color have become increasingly popular, introducing a sharp dissonance in the artistic design of the yurt. It is made in cold colors on a white background, naturalistic images of flowers, birds (in the Dehkanabad region most often peacocks, parrots). These products, completely foreign to local taste, penetrate into the villages in various ways.
Large embroideries, so characteristic of the sedentary part of Uzbeks and plain Tajiks, were absent from semi-nomadic Uzbeks in the past. Their functions (ritual and aesthetic) were performed by ornamented felt, fur and woven carpets. Currently, large suzani type embroideries have become widespread in the everyday life of former semi-nomadic people, they cover the walls of the newlyweds’ room in a stationary house, but they have not yet penetrated into the yurt. This, apparently, is explained by the fact that the height of the lattice wall of the yurt does not correspond to the dimensions of large embroidered panels. It is noteworthy that another type of embroidery of a sedentary population, corresponding to the size and shape of the walls of the yurt, met us in 1978 in the yurt of the newlyweds in the village of Khoja-Pullast (state farm Leninism) of the Dekhkanabad region. It is a wide frieze zardevor, decorating the upper part of the wall in the houses of the population of oases. In the yurt he also closed the top part of the wall (the junction of the lattice walls with the dome poles, including the bend of poles) and was stretched in the left part.
It is noteworthy that in this case there is no mechanical borrowing: the ornamental motifs of this embroidery go back to woven carpet patterns, and the coloring on a black background bright yellow, green, white patterns – to the contrasting tones of small embroideries. On the sides and at the bottom, the embroidery is trimmed with a fringe of twisted silk threads, which also corresponds to the local tradition.
The originality of the wedding yurt of the Uzbeks-kungrats is bestowed by the first-ever ornamented atma in the form of a garland of woolen multicolored brushes sewn on a lot of red homespun tapes diverging from one center-a yurt of a scab (tunkarma) suspended to the rim, carved in the form of a circle and ornamented applique from white and red fabric. In one of the yurts, which we met in 1971 in the Charshhanginsky district of the Tajik SSR, the appliqué was carved in the form of horn-shaped curls. Tunkarma is lined with fringe, and from its central part hang multicolored lush brushes. The same brushes adorn and lace woven yarn woven from woolen yarn (eshik selpichak) above the door.
Application of white fabric, carved in the form of horn-shaped curls, can be decorated with a wedding curtain (canopy) and the upper edge of the mat, covering the doorway. Like the white figure on the circular felt mentioned above, these patches in the past had a protective value – they protected the newlyweds from the evil eye. Now they play only a decorative role.
In the decoration of both the yurt itself and the objects in it, a single traditional style is preserved. It manifests itself in everything: in material, technique, ornament, composition, color. Here, the colors characteristic of the Uzbek yurt are dominant: red (from dark red to crimson), blue, yellow, orange, brown, green, white. This range of colors, like other features, unites the entire decoration of the yurt into a single artistic ensemble. Nowadays new items (sewing machine, bookcase, radio, TV, modern dishes, etc.) due to the delicate taste of the hostess, brought up by the centuries-old tradition, as a rule, unerringly find their place in the yurt, organically fit into the overall decoration of it, without violating the harmony of the ensemble, as the costume and ornaments of the inhabitants of the yurt do not violate this artistic integrity. In the clothes of young women there are contrasting combinations of the same colors as listed above, with a predominance of red, even when they wear non-Kungrad traditional costume, but follow styles that are close to or identical with modern all-Uzbek national forms.
The same favorite traditional tones are also characteristic for the decoration of the horse.
Artistic traditions of the semi-nomadic in the past part of the Uzbek people are transferred from mother to daughter, for all the decoration of the yurt (including the woven ribbons that fasten its skeleton) are made as a dowry for the girl, the future bride (the groom’s side acquires only the wooden frame of the yurt and felts for covering it). Each mother, as well as her grandmother and other older relatives of the growing girl, want the housing in which her family life begins to approach the ideal of beauty and perfection that has developed among the people. In the preparation of this dowry for a number of years involved mother, grandmother, female relatives and, of course, the future bride herself. This explains the mass nature of women’s applied art – carpet weaving, koshmovalaniya, embroidery.
Nevertheless, in each village (or group of villages) there are several women who have special abilities, creating the most perfect things. These women are asked for help and advice by their relatives and neighbors, and sometimes they are ordered to make certain things. Among such masters is, for example, Mayram Kullayeva, a resident of the village of Akyrtma, the Leninism collective farm in the Dekhkanabad region. She even in her childhood made a spindle with a stone spindle. She learned how to make fine and even yarn of wool and weave beautiful palaces and other things, she generously shares her experience with girls and young women.
In another village of the same state farm, Ainabat Khurramova and her sister-in-law Aisaat Tashbaeva are good embroiderers.
As you can see, the yurt in the modern life of Uzbeks still continues to live. However, its range is very narrow. The decoration of it disappears not immediately – it is transferred to a settled dwelling. Only a part of things, first changing their functions, become dilapidated as they become dilapidated. So, arches and cords go to various economic needs, from tapes and carpet strips sew carpets. The placement of things in the house remains the same as it was in the yurt. It is curious that small wall embroideries, still mandatory in dowry, hang in one horizontal row on the lower half of the wall, under the suzanis, which, as already noted, along with other elements of the culture of the primordially sedentary population, are increasingly becoming fashionable among the former semi-nomads.
The general process of extinction of local and former tribal features in the everyday life of the rural population and convergence with urban forms with varying intensities occurs in the steppe cattle-breeding regions of Uzbekistan. But the special coloring of the interior of the Uzbek dwelling, its artistic integrity remain, for traditional kinds of decorative and applied art live and develop here – carpet weaving, the manufacture of ornamental koshmas, embroidery – and the continuity of culture persists in the work of many folk masters. Artistic creativity of the semi-nomadic groups in the past can be regarded as a special school in the Uzbek folk arts and crafts. It clearly traces the common sources and deep links with the art of the Kirghiz, Kazakhs, Karakalpaks, Nogais and other peoples. At the same time, there are many unique features in it, only inherent features of it. Disclosure of the genesis and ways of shaping the folk art of this school, determining its place in the national Uzbek folk arts and crafts, the task of a special study. In this essay, we just wanted to emphasize that the Uzbek yurt and its decoration are the richest storehouse of original folk art in the past semi-nomadic part of the Uzbek people. It lives and now, preserving artistic perfection. Studying it is an urgent task.