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

Storage chest – secrets keeper

Storage chest – secrets keeper - e-history.kz
The storage chest was not just convenient item for nomads, also it is one of the most ancient subjects of the Kazakh people culture

The Kazakhs, who led nomadic way of life, put clothes, their belongings, various food into the storage chest and on top of it put a blanket (korpe). In addition, some types of storage chest were used as a bed. The storage chest was convenient for transportation on arba or carriage on the back of pack animals, such as camels or horses in nomadic way of life. In many cases, the storage chest was closed and the locks themselves were both padlocked and mortised. Wood legs attached to the storage chest helped its bottom not to become damp when it was put on the ground.


The rich family has a lot of the storage chests.

Role of the storage chest in Kazakh people traditions.

For Kazakh people the storage chest is the essential part of a girl's dowry. When they sent off a bride, her clothes, jewels put in the storage chest, and on top of it - the bedding. To her future husband’s house she went along with her dowry. After "kyz uzatu" - the wedding on bride’s side, the opening ceremony of her storage chest took place. At a newly married couple’s home they gave away special fabric, which is then cut into pieces and presented to all women participated in the wedding ceremony. Handed out with the best wishes, this fabric was presented as a souvenir. Of the pieces of that fabric young married women sewed a quilt (kurak korpe). This is one of the most ancient traditions of the Kazakh people. Making storage chests requires special skills. Masters made the storage chest of birch, black willow, oak. Its front side trimmed with carved ornaments, decorated with iron and brass buckles. The size of the storage chest depends on its use in life: small - 30-60 cm and large reach 60-120 cm. The storage-chest name depends on the fact that what was kept in it. For example, "shay sandyk" - for sweets and tea, "mate sandyk" - for clothes, fabrics and the largest, "zhyk sandyk" intended to felt mats and blankets. Our ancestors decorated their storage chest not only with carved patterns, but using different methods of jewelry craft, decorated it with gold, silver and other varieties of precious gems. In the south, the storage chest was painted, ornamented, and in the northern, central and eastern regions, often decorated with colored metals. In the West, they used the carvings that decorate artistically with colored paint. Today, in many parts of our country retained a tradition of holding the bride's dowry in the storage chest. For this reason, the masters still made storage chests and cradles (Besik), continuing ancient customs.


The storage chest as household item has a long history. Found in the burial of the Pharaoh Tutankhamen storage chest proves that the tradition of furniture attribute was known in ancient Egypt. On the front side of the finds there are images on the theme of "war and hunting." Wood handicrafts were distributed in Europe, the Italians called it "Cassone", as the ancient Romans - "aroc". However, the storage chest was called in different ways it always served one purpose - to keep things.

Types of the storage chests 

Zhaglan (zhagylan) - one of the oldest types of storage chest for clothes and other things, was widespread in the XVIII-XIX centuries. 

Zhaglans are made of thin boards, the outside is completely leathered, only the front side is decorated with a variety of ways. The storage chest has the following size: a length of 60-70 cm, 30-35 cm - width and height. Leather of the front side of the storage chest is covered with ornaments such as "horns", "paired horns", and “one horn". On the front side of zhaglan, exactly in the middle, shows a circle and it has green leathered two holes, similar to the shape of a leaf on the both sides. Some zhaglans are recovered with red leather.


Abdre (abdare, abdyra) - a large storage chest for clothes. The front part of the storage chest is decorated with iron buckles. By the ethnographers, the word "abdyra" comes from the Turkish "abyk", "abyt" - to hide something. Some samples of abdre up to now are made and used in everyday life.

Kolsandyk (kolsandyk) was part of the dowry and was intended for the storage of clothing and other things of future bride. Small in size (length 45-50 cm, width 25-30 cm, height 15-20 cm), it was made of wood and covered with a colored paint. People who are actively interested in fashion, put ornaments, patterns on the top of the storage chest, and decorated it with colored paints. At the same time many kinds of cloth are used in its making, a variety of precious stones, bone and silver jewelry.

Bogirebas compared with other types of storage chest is the smallest one, designed for storing pots, cups. These goods are made in the form of a trivet, and the front side is decorated with patterns.