Symbolism of Kazakh Ornaments

Bright, original and mysterious Kazakh ornaments have been used to decorate jewelry, fabric and household items since ancient times. However, today only a small part of national patterns, each with its own special meaning and significance, have retained their authenticity.

“Ornaments consist of two modules. The first one is a spiral which is a symbol of pictogram and evolution. The second one is an equilateral cross, which represents the four sides of the world and the God of Sky, Tengri. Graphics of Kazakh ornaments have been preserved for many thousands of years,” said historian, artist, Yerlan Kozhabayev.

Each pattern reflects the unique features of Kazakh history and culture of the time when they worshipped the God of Sky, Tengri. Since ancient times the ornaments were considered as amulets protecting from evil. Some of them symbolized the beginning and the end of life. Historian Yerlan Kozhabayev said that today only a few people are familiar with semantics of the national ornaments. This is why modern designers apply them in their works for the wrong purposes.

“Many designers are confused about these things. For example, for someone who is alive, they mistakenly use pictograms of the dead people that symbolize the afterlife. There are ornaments that should not be used to decorate the upper portions of a garment. The ornaments of a headdress have the different use,” Kozhabayev said.

Yerlan Kozhabayev’s book gives an opportunity to get familiar with the symbolism and significance of national ornaments. The author had been working on the book for eight years. Collecting scientific articles and rare archive materials, he dedicated his research to the development of the culture of Kazakh ornaments.