If a nation does not know its history, if the country loses its history, then its citizens have nowhere to go.
Mirzhakyp Dulatuly

Kazakh national ornaments

Ornaments are a type of ancient folk art. The origins of this art came from the ancient times.

Ornaments are a type of ancient folk art. The origins of this art came from the ancient times. The content and name of the ornaments have changed and improved in accordance with the life orientation and the living conditions of the people in each new era. Currently, the art of making ornaments, finding qualitatively new, rich content and innovative features, become a spiritual and material heritage of the Kazakh people.

Like all other forms of creativity, the art of making ornaments has a positive impact on improving the intellectual level while it also contributes to the improvement of already acquired knowledge.

Applied art is one of the main sections of the Kazakh ethnic culture. The artworks have information about the ancient culture of the people. Their samples are stored in museum collections as exhibits of archaeological excavations. Back in the preliterate times, the nomads reflected the characteristics of their nomadic life and their life conditions, with the help of applied arts. The works of ancient arts and crafts provide objective information about the life of their ancestors. All of the works of applied art, which were found during the archeological excavations in the territory of Kazakhstan, decorated with ornaments. And that is typical, according to the level of development of each era, changed the idiosyncrasy of the masters (makers of ornaments). If you speak the language of ornaments, you will see many unsolved mysteries that they hold within themselves. In other words, the totem symbols and meanings of many ornaments are still scientifically unproven. Currently, the ornaments have lost its symbolic meaning in life and can only be interpreted in terms of aesthetics. In the Kazakh steppe ornaments have improved in various ways. The different regions of Kazakhstan could be characterized by their unique ornaments and their original style. Despite this fact, the “horn” (mүyіz) ornament could be considered as the basic element of all ornaments, it is dominated by the hornlike and arcuate lines.  For example in the traditional products of the Kazakh people: in the arms art, in the decoration of yurts, in jewelry, in carpet weaving, in the products from felt, in korzhyn, in the housewares and clothing that are manufactured by the weaving, sewing, sewing of patches, melting and cutting. Currently, the scientists found about 230 kinds of ornaments.

"Muyiz" can be defined as a source, or the primary element of the Kazakh ornament, just like other kinds of ornaments that were created on its basis. Only the names have changed, for example "қoshқar mүyіz " – ram’s horns; "arkhar muyiz" - argali horns ; "bugu muyіz" - deer antlers , "khyrykh mүyіz" - forty horns; "kos muyіz" - double horns", syngar muyіz " - horned, "synykh muyіz" - broken horn, and also the ornaments that represents the individual body parts of animals, birds - "tirt khulakh" - crossing; “tuye taban”- camel's foot, "syngar okshe " - the only heel; "kos alka" - double necklace, "khus khanaty" - bird's wings; "kaz taban" - crow's feet.

The craftsmen made various compositions of these elements and used them in decorating the products. The content of the Kazakh ornaments could be associated with the animal husbandry, hunting, nature, paintings of nomads, appearance of household items, but as it was mentioned before, all of them could be unite by one element - "muyіz" – the horn. Each master-creator of the original form of ornament, called it differently, depending on the purpose and use in the home.

Such ornaments as "muyіz" can sometimes be very small, and sometimes quite large. The small ones can be used in decoration of jewelry, embroidery drawings, in products from wood and bone, while the big ones can be applied in the carpet weaving, weaving of alasha, thermo-alasha; in tekemets, the ornaments are laid in the very basis of the felt while in syrmaki it is cut from the two-color felt. The large ornament could also be used in the products from cheegrass, in the manufacture of korzhyn, in elements of clothing and in the construction business.

The Folk artists create the original and complex compositions using the "muyіz" ornament in all sorts of variations.

While using the new ornaments in accordance with the requirements of the time, such as restoration of ancient products, the craftsmen regard not only the aesthetic purposes, but also the utilitarian: to make the products more durable.

From ancient times, the ornaments were used in the forms of art of the Kazakh people. They are the companions of the people in their everyday life and in the holidays, they are also the spiritual heritage of the people. Currently, the art of creating the ornaments is one of the main directions of the development of cultural parody. The ornaments have been improved over time, gaining more rich content and a new look.

The enrichment of the spiritual identity of the people, the expanding of their world perception is due to the independence, it allows the national artists get to the next level of creativity.

The creators of ornaments invented some new stories and paid great attention to their artistic decision. As such, nowadays we could see some modern types of ornaments called “Sharshi oyu” is an ornamental square, "aralas өrnek"  is a mixed pattern.

Also, the meaningful sense, a hidden, allegorical characteristic of animals and birds, could be found within the pictures of ornaments. These ornaments have a unique composition, a kind of symmetry and asymmetry, a unique flavor and a unique kind of rhythm as well as the special philosophical content.

In Latin, the word “composition” means the location of patterns and ornaments on something. For example, if patterns and ornaments decorate a bowl, then they should not be very small or large, they should appropriate to the size of the bowl. Therefore, the master, first, determines the spatial scale of the product on which he should put an ornament.

It is also important for ornament to conform the laws of symmetry: both of its sides must be equal to each other. In order to cut the pattern for a particular product, you should first make a sample from the paper. When you create an ornament you should regard the fact that it is given a special beauty when using the paints.  The traditional colors that were used by the masters for centuries can be applied in the Kazakh arts and crafts: red, blue, yellow, green, white and black. These colors have their own unique symbolism. Blue is the color of the sky; white is the symbol of truth; yellow is the color of wisdom, morality and sadness; green is a symbol of youth, spring etc.  The harmonious combination of the colors can be called coloration. The perfect coloration could be found in multicolored decorative patterns. You should also comply with a rate when creating the ornaments.

The duplication of one element in the ornaments is called the rhythm. For instance, the several repeated elements of "khoshkhar muyіz" - ram's horn, it's a rhythm. If "khoshkhar muyіz" repeats 5, 6, 7, 8 times and so on to infinity , it's called "Sheth oyu" - dry ornament.

The creation of ornaments is an ancient art that has evolved over many centuries. The ornaments that were put on to different objects of applied art, keep their identity and located in a specific, peculiar manner. Some specific elements could be seen in the ancient samples of ornaments: the images of birds, flowers and animals. According to the beliefs of the ancient Turks, the bird was a symbol of the sky; the fish was a symbol of the water; the wood was a symbol of the land.

The traditions of craftsmen that preserved over the centuries could be found in the content of ancient ornaments. Regarding the available data, we can say that the masters, when creating their masterpieces, were trying to accurately convey them in images taken from nature itself.

The following body parts of animals were depicted on the ornamnets: horns, hooves, bird beak, fox head, wolf ears, dog tail, as well as many species of plants. Ornaments are the cultural annals of the Kazakh people, like the oral culture. We must be familiar with this kind of art, which begins to be forgotten with time. It must take its rightful place among the other arts: crafts, fine arts, architecture, etc.