Shyrdak Rugs & felt making in At Bashi, Kyrgyzstan

Shyrdak Rugs
The women of At Bashi making Shyrdak traditional felt rugs, using the ancient nomadic felt making techniques

The Kyrgyz village of At Bashi is for me a stop that is all about the ancient felt making process. In this region, a group of 50 women, organized in a cooperative, make the traditional felt nomad rugs known as the Shyrdak. Each Shyrdak is made by hand using traditional methods and materials.

The Shyrdak is a mosaic rug made of felt. First the wool is washed, dried and dyed. The wool is then pressed to felt. On this newly created piece of felt textile, a pattern is drawn. Two layers of different colors are cut with a sharp knife and then sewn together. The outline of the mosaic is emphasized by using a double embossing thread in a third color, chosen specifically to bring out the other two colors. This double thread actually consists of two handspun threads: one s-spun and the other z-spun, sewn together to give a chevron effect. The quilting is sewn into the felt in parallel with the embossing, both to strengthen the fabric and to emphasize the pattern. All Shyrdaks are sewn onto a backing felt of natural wool. The embossing and quilting are sewn through both layers.

The word Shyrdak comes from the root shyrda, which means ‘to join together’. For me, it is the perfect word for my shop SHIRDAK.

Shyrdak Rug
Shyrdak Rugs, the finished product, available at my shop SHIRDAK in Amsterdam, NL