Shyrdaks are felted and hand-sewn virgin-wool rugs from Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyz women in the north of the country learn the old tradition from their mothers. Young women often prefer to move to the capital Bishkek but if they see that it is possible to make money with the old craft they will continue the practice - working from home. Otherwise their mothers and grandmothers maintain the tradition in the villages. They sew whenever they are not sowing, tending plants and animals or harvesting. Using pieces of thick felt, each master rug maker draws and cuts her own ornaments that connect her to the culture of her people. With pride she signs her name on the underside of each finished carpet. The importance of the craft and the money it generates strengthen her social position. Shyrdaks used to be a central element of a young family’s dowry. Tourism, the upgrade to intangible-cultural-heritage-status courtesy of UNESCO in 2012 and a growing customer base in the West are not merely helping to preserve the unique Shyrdak-technique but have actually fueled something of a revival.
Shyrdaks typically feature unique ornaments of archaic beauty. The stylized forms represent motifs from the flora and fauna of the wild Kyrgyz mountain steppes: flowers, birds, Ibexes, the sun and moon and the jagged mountains. ... An ornament can signify fertility, good luck or family. A Shyrdak, in the way it tells and shows its story functions like a book while resembling an image. And it warms your feet and your soul, as well.