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The Symbolic Meaning of Kazakh Ornaments

25 September 2018
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The Symbolic Meaning of Kazakh Ornaments
Ornaments are a type of ancient folk art. The origins of this art originate from ancient times. The subject content and the name of the ornaments changed and improved according to the peculiarities of

orientation and life of the people in each new era. At present, the art of creating ornaments, having acquired a qualitatively new rich content and innovative features, has become a spiritual and material asset of the Kazakh people.

In the current conditions of globalization, it is extremely necessary to form and maintain a holistic, adequately perceived and responsive cultural image of Kazakhstan in the eyes of the international community. Nowadays, researchers and art lovers are very interested in studying phenomena that are clearly regional-ethnic in nature. The result of the actualization of the programs of the cultural policy of Kazakhstan was a tendency to rethink the ancient national traditions. At the present stage, practically in all spheres of the manifestation of Kazakhstan culture, we can observe not only the influence of the new global currents, but also attempts to address the sources, the essential foundations of the world outlook and the value orientation of the Kazakh people. One of the most representative types of traditional national art of Kazakhstan is ornament. This is the most ancient and grounded in the logic of the historical process image of the national identification of the Kazakh people, expressed in a specific visual form.

Observing how the ornamental structures are used in the art of modern Kazakhstan, one can come to a conclusion about the prevailing profanation of this fundamental cultural phenomenon. Indeed, when studying national ornaments, as in their application in one form or another of artistic creativity, they are viewed, as a rule, from a utilitarian position, as a factual material reflecting the characteristic distinctive features of the Kazakh cultural and artistic tradition. Ornament acts solely as a pattern, a decorative element that is the result of individual creative activity. Unfortunately, today neither the representatives of modern Kazakhstani humanitarian science nor artists are thinking about the deep philosophical essence of the phenomenon of traditional ornament.

Applied art is one of the main sections of Kazakh ethnoculture, it is necessary to teach in schools, beginning with the first class. Students should learn the art of creating ornaments not only in drawing and working lessons, but also in history lessons, because applied arts products carry information about the ancient culture of the people. Their samples are stored in museum funds as exhibits of archaeological excavations. Even in pre-written times, nomads reflected the features of their life and life with the help of applied art. Works of ancient applied art give students objective information about the past life of our ancestors. All works of applied art found during archaeological excavations on the territory of our country are decorated with ornaments. And what is characteristic, in accordance with the level of development of each era, the peculiarities of the style of masters-the creators of ornaments-have changed. If we talk in the language of ornaments, then they keep many secrets not yet uncovered. In other words, until now, from the scientific point of view, totem and magic symbols and semantic meanings of many ornaments have not been proved. At present, ornaments, having lost their symbolic meaning, are perceived in everyday life only from the aesthetic point of view.

In the Kazakh steppe, ornaments were perfected in various directions. Different regions of our country differed special, only they inherent in ornaments, peculiarity of their styles. Despite this, the main element, the primary principle of all ornaments, is considered to be the ornament "horn" (muyiz), in which the horn-like, arcuate lines predominate. In the traditional products of the Kazakh people: in the art of weapons, in the decoration of yurts, in jewelry, carpet weaving, crusts, dishes, clothes made by weaving, sewing, melting, cutting, widely used ornamentation of ornaments. At present, scientists discovered about 230 kinds of ornaments. In this manual, only the most common species is considered - "muyiz" - a horn-shaped ornament.

National ornament is one of the most striking features of the artistic creativity of the Kazakh people, was an integral part of his spiritual life. He was closely associated with the life of the people, with its customs and rituals, developed on the basis of the continuity of generations, the preservation and development of the best traditional and artistic forms. Its origins go back to ancient times. Any nomad from childhood knew the symbolism of the ornament and could decipher his meaning. To date, unfortunately, there are almost no masters in Kazakhstan who know and own the ancient secrets of making national ornaments, the problem of preserving Kazakh folk art is very acute, the richest traditions and skills used in decorative and decorative art are lost. 

Therefore, one of the most important tasks of our republic in modern conditions is still the revival, preservation, study and propaganda of the artistic heritage of the Kazakh people. The revival of national history and culture in the context of humanistic values ​​of the 19th century defines new stages in the spiritual development of the Kazakh people, which become an important condition for preserving its identity. The main features of the development of culture and art in the steppe peoples have long been determined by the needs of the nomadic way of life, which determined both the type of dwelling, and its decoration, and clothing - shaped the notion of beauty. The exact date of the appearance of the ornament is difficult to name, since its origins go back to ancient times. The first ornamental images were discovered in the Stone Age. 

Ornamental art of nomadic people was constantly developed and enriched as a result of close interaction with neighboring peoples. Information on arts and crafts and on Kazakh ornament can be found in many sources of medieval authors, in the works of European ethnographers and travelers who visited the territory of Kazakhstan in the 16th century.Beginning in the second half of the nineteenth century, the Russian Geographical Society and especially its West Siberian Department actively studied the study of Kazakhstan, which studied the history, way of life, customs and traditions of the Kazakh people, recorded archeological monuments, etc.

A wide range of Kazakhstan's researchers made a great contribution to the study of decorative and ornamental art. A number of scientists provide an academically grounded picture of the origin and development of the Kazakh ornament, discovered the laws of its construction, the essence of symmetry, the balance of the background and picture. Nevertheless, the study of the Kazakh national ornament continues to this day, many of its aspects are not sufficiently studied and presented. The term ornament designates a pattern (ornament), built on a rhythmic alternation and organized arrangement of elements. The motifs of the Kazakh ornament are extremely numerous and diverse, they preserve the features of different eras and styles not only in form but also in technique. The main patterns can be divided into geometric, plant, zoomorphic, cosmogonic and many others. From the combination of the basic patterns, a mass of derived styles and combinations was formed.

Special attention should be paid to semantics - the semantic value of ornamental patterns used by Kazakhs in national costume and jewelry. Ancient masters knew that the ornament has a strong emotional impact on a person, it was peculiar to him to convey feelings of joy and sadness, love and happiness. Almost all the ornamental patterns were "read" in due time in a very specific way. Any nomad from childhood knew the symbolism of the ornament and could easily decipher its meaning. So, for example, entering the felt yurt, he saw an ornament above the canopy, which meant: "Let the fire in this house never fade away!"

Ornament generously adorned men's, women's and children's clothing. Clothing was always ornamented according to social status - generously or modestly, intended for a wealthy person and not very, characterized a person by age, from which region he was, and more specifically - from what kind of tribe, helped to build interpersonal relations with each other. For girls and boys - especially. Every age of the Kazakh child was accompanied by a special ornamental decor of clothes, linen, jewelry. Islam forbade the depiction of people and animals, so people could express their aesthetic ideas only in ornament. It was noted that the Kazakh ornament penetrates into all the cracks in the home environment; in the yurt, thanks to the hard-working mistress, there is not a single piece of felt, not a single piece of leather, not a single vertex of a wooden surface without ornament. The genius of a hardworking Kirghiz turned a yurt into an art gallery, or rather, an exhibition of ornaments.

As a rule, clothes were ornamented with embroidery or appliqué, depending on what materials it was made of. The character of the ornament always harmonized with the form of clothing or the object on which the pattern was applied, it corresponded to the material from which it was made: each pattern could tell its story, where always the original motives for it were meaningful, processed forms of the surrounding world, nature or the cosmos. So, for example, rhombus - a symbol of fertility - is the formative basis of clothing decoration. The pattern of stylized plants denoted the steppe, and the image of the vegetable seed meant the desire to have large offspring.

The life of the nomad, in an ever-changing environment, represented the corresponding requirements for the visual arts, which were directly related to their way of life and way of life. The symbolized world of animals was reflected in zoomorphic ornament, and for almost every species of animals there was a way of ornamental image; as a "camel track" (tuyie taban), "mutton horn" (qoshqar muyiz), "bone" (zhilinshik), "spine" (omyrtqa), "dog tail" (it quyryq), and many others. The silhouettes of the yurt gave the nomad a motive for a geometric ornament; the idea of ​​loyalty, friendship, eternal movement, strength and indefatigability was expressed by paired circles, semicircles, sinusoids. For example, the signs "qoshqar muyiz" (mutton horn) and "ashatuyaq" denoted the material welfare of the pastoralist, and if the clothes were decorated with a pattern of tuyie taban (camel trail), then it meant that the clothes were sewn for a long journey. If a person wished someone happiness, freedom and independence, then he gave a thing with the signs of "qusmuryn". Ancient element in the form of a comma was called in the Kazakhs "baqyt" - luck, happiness, well-being. This element was used mainly in embroidery gowns and scarves. On the same clothes and girls' dresses, ornaments in the form of flowers or swallows were applied. On males clothes were applied patterns in the form of an arrow, an eagle, a mutton horn. The wavy line of all Eurasian peoples denoted water.

The worship of the forces of nature of the nomadic society was reflected in the symbolism of the landscape ornament, which is characterized by the image of clouds, lightning, fire, which symbolized space, invincibility, flowering, boundlessness. They were performed in bright saturated color. Representations about the creation of the world, the universe, the cosmos formed the basis of cosmogonic ornaments. Rosettes in the form of multipath stars, concentric circles transmitted a solar or astral meaning. Basically, these were very expensive dressing gowns, and their owners belonged to noble families. Many of these robes are still in the ethnographic museums of Russia and Kazakhstan.

The cosmogonic patterns that symbolize the image of the sun and the universe "kun kozi" (the sun's eye), "kun saulesi" (sun rays), "shyqqan kun" (sunrise), were successfully used in modern symbols and heraldry of Kazakhstan. The basis of the Kazakh ornament is strict adherence to the principles of symmetry and rhythm composition. With great skill, folk craftsmen placed complex composition configurations, both on large and small planes. Harmonious color solution, rhythmic alternation and a combination of different tones - a feature of the creation of Kazakhs. The color was closely related to the material of the product and the graphics of the patterns. For the ornament, colorful multicolored clothing had a deep meaning and significance. Every color had its own symbolism: blue - sky, white - joy, truth, happiness, yellow - knowledge, wisdom, red - fire, sun, green - youth, spring, black - earth, etc. The combination of white and red was perceived as an expression of the holiday, dark, muted tones symbolized sadness and sadness.

It is also known that ornamental art perfectly conveyed the wealth and beauty of the native land, the vicissitudes of public life. In each sample of clothing, in each pattern, its own folk history was displayed. Every detail carried a deep meaning, a philosophy of life. For a long time the custom was maintained that the girl who married and moved to another village should send a gift made to her parents by her own hands. And often with the help of ornament the girl described her life. If in an ornamental rug or coverlet she portrayed a symbolically thin person, and next to it full - parents cried, receiving a gift, her daughter was living badly. And if the beak of a bird or a wing meant that the girl lived as a free bird, and the parents collected friends and relatives on that one.

In addition to clothing, a large semantic load was carried by jewelry of Kazakhs. In the design of scientific and popular science publications, as well as in contemporary decorative and applied art, nowadays basically the same types of ornaments are replicated. At the same time, acquaintance with jewelry decorations and prints of seals of steppe rulers suggests that the set of ornaments was much broader and more diverse. According to the written sources of the past centuries, according to the outlines of the signet rings and the ornamental drawing on them, one can know the estate to which the print master belonged. Thus, the teardrop shape was characteristic of the ruling elite, the holy class - the skin wore ring-prints of round shape, the foreman and batyrs - oval, pear-shaped and square. The same was true of weapons, they were also personified: if some sabers were encrusted with diamonds, others only with gold or silver, that is, they differed in richness, style of decoration and ornamentation. 

Details of the bridle, saddle, stirrup master jeweler decorated with fine carvings and selected ornaments, which were believed to bring luck to the rider, speed and tireless horse. Sometimes jewelry was decorated with images of animals that had symbolic meaning. For example, the head of a horse symbolized a thought, a falcon - dexterity, a fish - vigilance, a mouse - fecundity of cattle and many others. Materials that were used to make ornamental ornaments were appropriately subordinated to this symbolism: gold or amber was used to express holiness and wealth, red coral represented joy, pearls or silver symbolized honesty and truthfulness, turquoise - fidelity and eternity, transparent - purity. Girls wore juzik or bilezik - bracelets on a chain, where one ring is an "avian beak", the other is a "bird's wing", which means - to be independent and live in prosperity.

The symbol of the unification of the two beginnings, the two families were massive rings with two-finger splints - the qudagi juzik (rings of matchmakers). Such rings were given to the matchmaker's mother-in-law, for patronage and kind attitude towards the daughter-in-law. The category of products symbolizing fertility include buckles and plaques with motifs of fish and curls of horns. The wreaths were breastplates worn by girls, amuletts of triangular shape - tumarsha, uki ayak (claw of an owl), etc., they were worn only in solemn occasions.

Very often the ornament in ancient times had a ritual significance. Many nomads wore bronze and silver talismans with solar circles, which were signs of magic, symbols of happiness and well-being, a reflection of religious ideas. It was also believed that the ornament has the properties to drive away evil steppe spirits and prevent misfortunes. He not only decorated everyday life and holidays, but according to the thought of their creators, he made the being of people mystically involved in the mysterious forces that govern the universe. In the generous patterns, skillful ornaments, the artistic giftedness of the people, his skill and constant striving for perfection were embodied. Unfortunately, in the modern world, ornament - a pattern that decorates objects of everyday life, does not bear the semantic load. In the conditions of a market economy, for sale, 'ornamented' objects are invitingly decorated, which in fact have nothing in common with the semantics of the national ornament, with its beauty, purity and philosophy, which causes great harm to applied art.

Someone said that the roots of the ornamentation come from plant or animal images of nature. Here everything is mixed up: both horns, and leaves, and galaxies, and molecular structures, and formulas of motion. Just need to see them. Ancient Turks have long ceased to portray a person, and not because they adopted Islam. But because such a powerful philosophical idea did not need to be detailed. When we talk about a living biological, spiritualized form, there is no place for a squirrel, a cockerel or even a human. Ornament - a schematic outline of the universe. The pattern that looks at the four sides is an indication of four parts of the world, and it was forgotten, as the Kazakhs say. So, they had a square land. Square land - hence all the temples are square, and above it the dome is the sky, and then spiritual intangible levels.

Classics of Kazakh ornamental art are felt, sharks, absolute classics, and this is his genius. According to scientists, the ornament is also not divided into male and female, adult and children, as almost no difference in the basic clothing of men and women, adults and children. There are only differences in jewelry and headgear. Since particularly hard-working researchers always pestered the masters with questions about the name of this or that element, all the ornaments were given a working title: a jigger, a qoshqar-muyiz and so on. After all, the ornament was not used anywhere. Unlike the ornaments of other peoples. Uzbek, Greek, Russian ornaments did not reach philosophical generalization, they stopped at the depiction of individual lines of the world. And so the Russian researcher could not see in this strange ornament this very philosophy. He wanted to see the petty fuss with the details. The ornament of many other nations is narrative, whereas the Kazakh one is absolutely philosophical.

The combination of colors in the ornamentation is important - they should alternate in a certain order. The disordered distribution of colors, even in the most original ornament, can make it gray and expressionless. The alternation of colors in ornament is subject to the logic of its content, and the choice of colors is always connected with the ethnographic history of the Kazakh people and has a symbolic meaning. The choice of the background color and the pattern determines the composition. Kazakhs always had a symbolic meaning: blue was always a symbol of the sky; red - a symbol of the sun, fire; yellow color - a symbol of reason, melancholy, sadness; black color is the symbol of the earth; green color - a symbol of youth, spring. Therefore, when one of these colors is selected for a product, its symbolic value is also determined. Consequently, the choice and arrangement of colors in the ornament reflected the historically formed ideas of each people about the surrounding world, its aesthetic taste and national characteristics. For example, in the middle green strip of Russia the color red predominates, and in the cities of Central Asia and Kazakhstan, among the yellow deserts, there is an attachment to the ceramics of all kinds of blue shades. In applied art two types of paints are used.

Powders and liquid dyes, manufactured by a modern chemical method. Then, natural dyes are used. They are obtained from clay, ocher, various minerals and plants. Masters make paints themselves, supplementing them with various additives. Previously, ready-made dyes, such as clay of white, yellow, green, red and black colors, ocher (yellow, green, red) were used for coloring wood, skin, and skin. Juices of the fruits of belladonna, hawthorn, black currant, strawberry, bird cherry, dog rose and other plants were also peculiar dyes. Folk craftsmen widely used paints made from roots, bark, leaves of plants by evaporation. For example, korotalnik, poplar, pine, oak, apple, pomegranate, grapes, apricot gave a red, yellow, red and brown tint. The bark was removed from the tree in autumn, ground on a hand mill, ground in a mortar to a powder, and then boiled. Boiling the bark for a certain time, filtered and boiled again until thick (sometimes the bark was dried, crushed into powder). Saline was added to the solution. Kuporos, salt, wax, alum. Paints were also made from seeds of plum, persimmon, apricot, shell of nuts, overcooked grains of wheat, rye. Different colors were obtained by mixing them. That the paints did not fade and be well fixed, the nourishing understanding of the environment was added.

To sum up, it should be noted that the specificity of the nomadic way of life led to the emergence of an invaluable gift brought by nomads to the world treasury of arts - a unique style. The activities of nomads are carried out in a special way in the animal world, mobile, like them. This filled with sounding sacral symbols, the richest spiritually organically organically relayed the world outlook position, the value and aesthetic attitudes of the nomadic culture. Nomads, by virtue of their inner freedom, do not seek to bind themselves to anything that limits them in space, create "sounding" symbols, which most harmoniously meets the requirements of permanent migration.

Ornament, as the most mobile of the visual means of expressing the creative potential of nomads, covered absolutely all spheres of life. In a universal, concise form, ornamental structures possessed the ability to reflect the essence of the world outlook and the specificity of the spiritual culture of nomads, turning into symbols of intercultural communication.
The ornament read in this context testifies to the existence of a common worldview, archetypal and, consequently, symbolic and symbolic base not only of a single ethnos, but also of an unrestricted territorial cultural community as a whole. It is the ornament that appears here as a key to the reading of the content and meaning of material and spiritual culture.

In its essence, ornament is a kind of proto-language, the most ancient, the most stable and permanent in comparison with other languages ​​of intercultural communication that ever existed. Indeed, after passing a number of transformations of a structural and semantic character, it did not cease to exist, and, on the contrary, served as a kind of basis, a basis for a stable cultural tradition not only of the nomadic world of the Eurasian steppes, but also other cultures, from the usual nomadic specifics. It is possible to speak with confidence about the eternal value of the ornament, its unique importance for the formation of the world outlook of the ethnos.

MINUAROV I.B.

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