Souvenirs from Kazakhstan
The Republic of Kazakhstan is a treasure trove of Folk Art and unique souvenirs. From stringed instruments, such as the sherter and kyl kobez, to woven handbags, you will find something for every taste. Sheep are a primary agricultural source for the Kazakhstani people, and their wool is rightly famous. Intricate rugs are prized throughout the world for their lively colors and detailed work, while felted wool is turned into decorative traditional coats, vests and hats. It is also sewn and stuffed into figures of camels, horses and people. Silk is another popular product, made in scarves, rugs and fluttery dresses called kunikey, which means "sunlight." You can also find it dyed using the batik process, creating lovely wall hangings. A truly unique souvenir from Kazakhstan is a Kazakh water flask. Made from hand-tooled leather, horsemen take these on their daily rides. You may wish to have a pair of boots handmade to match.
The Kazakhstani Yurt
The traditional dwelling of the Kazakhstani people is the yurt. This circular structure was created to be easily taken down and carried on horseback. It begins with the construction of a circular wooden frame that is covered with a heavy felt fabric. If the yurt is put up properly, it can insulate its inhabitants from the heat of the Kazakhstan summer, and the cold winds of winter. In the center of the wooden frame is a shangrak. In the past, the shangrak was passed down from father to son, as an important part of family history. As a matter of fact, it is such a revered symbol it is part of Kazakhstan's coat of arms. The yurt was divided into portions for the husband and his tools on the right, and for the wife and her clothes on the left. Today, it is more common to see yurts used as cafes, museums, and Kazakhstani souvenir stores, than as a home.