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Kazakh jewelry avaIn Kazakhstan, traditional jewelry pieces play a significant role in the local folk costume and the local culture. Kazakh jewelry makers have always been very skilled and created real works of art. They used both regional and imported materials, each of which was considered sacred and protective – Kazakhs are a very superstitious nation, so every jewelry item, every pattern, every ornament, and every shape traditionally was meaningful. And also, Kazakh jewelers are creative, so a lot of the adornments look wonderful.


Traditional materials of Kazakh jewels

Women’s jewelry was usually made from silver and such natural materials as pearls, coral, amber, turquoise, and cornelian. The latter were the most popular precious stones in the local jewels. On the other hand, such a gemstone as a ruby was less widespread, but still, it can be sometimes seen in Kazakh adornments.

By the way, the fact that Kazakh jewelers used amber tells us about the high development of trade between far-away corners of the world even centuries ago. The thing is, amber isn’t mined in Kazakhstan and neighboring territories, it was imported. So, if jewelry makers used it, amber was easily available and in rather large quantities.

 

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Modern Kazakh folk jewelry in the RaiM & Artur videoclip "Saukele" (popular Kazakh rap artists)

 

If to talk about turquoise and cornelian semi-precious stones, they were not only widely used in the local jewels but also deeply symbolic. Turquoise and even its color was associated with the upper world and was believed to have a positive effect on the well-being and health of the wearer. Also, people considered that turquoise brought good luck. That’s why a lot of vintage Kazakh jewelry items were adorned with turquoise.

Most Kazakh folk jewels were made from silver. Gold and other metals were rarer. Silver was considered sacred as well as gemstones, pearls, and coral. The local jewelers used a lot of silver – many jewelry pieces were large and massive. For example, Kazakh brides had such long and heavy pendants on their wedding headpieces that there were special pockets for the ends of those pendants, otherwise, they would break under their own weight and be lost.

Kazakh folk amulets

In Kazakhstan, people have always been rather superstitious. According to their culture and beliefs, there are good and evil spirits that influence their life, so they paid a lot of attention to protecting themselves and their loved ones from evil. Most of materials used in jewelry making were believed to be good protection. And also, a lot of jewels were not only beautiful embellishments but also amulets.

 

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Modern Kazakh folk jewelry in the RaiM & Artur videoclip "Saukele" (popular Kazakh rap artists)

 

Moreover, there were certain rules as to how and where to wear these jewels. Such parts of a body as temples, forehead, chest, and writs were considered the most vulnerable and needed protection. That’s why women wore massive jewelry pieces that served as powerful amulets covering these areas.

But not only jewels were believed sacred and protective. Some other natural materials could have the same purpose. For example, eagle owl feathers were often used on headdresses and clothes. This bird is sacred in Kazakhstan. Feathers of other birds could also be used as amulets – they brought good luck. Young girls often wore feather adornments, which were believed to protect them from anything that could hurt a future mother.

 

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Traditional suusar tebetei headdress from Kazakhstan. It is adorned with a bunch of feathers for protection as well as decoration

 

In the past, life was so hard and dangerous that people needed to believe in something that could protect them, heal them, and give them a chance to survive. Practically every culture out there used symbols, jewelry, patterns, and various other things as protection amulets.

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