Kyrgyz traditional outfits not only look pretty but also are very comfy to wear. Actually, that’s the main feature of Kyrgyz folk dress because these are nomadic people who originally spent much of their time on horseback. Today, the lifestyle of modern Kyrgyz people is a bit different, especially for city-dwellers, but the traditional clothing remains the same – loose, comfortable, multilayered, and with minimal decor.
The traditional male garments were simple long robes, their laps closed if needed, and belted with a leather belt. Women wore long dresses paired with vests. One of the most important parts of Kyrgyz folk attire is a headdress. There are many different headpieces that differed according to gender, social status, marital status, wealth, etc. But we’ll talk about specific Kyrgyz traditional garments in another article.
Originally, Kyrgyz folk garments were made from animal skins (as practically every family had cattle) and coarse woolen cloth. The fabric was often made from camel and sheep wool. Also, felt was widespread. If to talk about such costly fabrics as silk, velvet, and cotton, they were imported to Kyrgyzstan from neighboring Central Asian countries, so they were expensive and affordable mostly for wealthy cattlemen. And these fabrics were used to make festive and ceremonial clothes.
Clothing in Kyrgyzstan was expensive because there were few local materials suitable for making the fabric. The climate here is unfavorable for growing such plants as flax, cotton, or hemp and you can’t produce everything from wool. So, poorer families who had smaller herds (in Kyrgyzstan in the past, wealth was measured by the number of cattle) wore the same clothing until it practically crumbled to pieces; they couldn’t afford to buy new garments on a regular basis.
Modern replicas of Kyrgyz male and female national garments
On the other hand, rich Kyrgyz families wore beautiful outfits. They were sewn from fine fabrics, trimmed with fur, embellished with silver adornments and jewelry, decorated with hand-embroidery, etc. These were magnificent pieces, often real works of art.
In the second half of the 19th century, wealthy Kyrgyz cattlemen started to buy ready-made clothes, often imported from the neighboring countries. This led to some enrichment of the local culture by features typical for other Central Asian countries, like embroidery motifs, jewelry pieces, and even clothing cuts and styles. That’s why, today, we can sometimes confuse the garments from Kyrgyzstan and neighboring Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan. Their cultures got a little entangled and influenced each other greatly, creating a “nest” of Central Asian cultures.
In the modern day, Kyrgyz people still preserve and honor their traditions, and clothing traditions as well. The local national garments are still worn by Kyrgyz men and women, but mostly for holidays, festivities, weddings, and other special occasions. In day-to-day life, people prefer contemporary clothes. But there is also an assortment of modern garments but with some authentic detail and adornments – sort of a combination of contemporary fashion and tradition. Such garments are totally available – not too expensive and easy to find, so a lot of people wear them these days.
Here are some dolls wearing rather accurate tiny Kyrgyz traditional outfits