Kazakh clothing

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Traditional Kazakh male clothing.
The garb of Kazakh hunters.
A Kazakh man chases a woman wearing traditional garb.
Fur coats are worn in the cold of winter.

Kazakh clothing is a style of clothing worn by Kazakh people, often made of material suited to the region's extreme climate.[1] Contemporary Kazakhs usually wear modern western clothing, but people are seen wearing traditional clothing for holidays and special occasions.[2]

Materials and production methods[edit]

Cloth, skin, felt, and fur are all traditional materials used for Kazakh clothing. Embroidery, fur, jewelry, and ornamentation may also be used for decoration. [3]

For those who can afford it, imported materials such as silk, brocade, and velvet are sewn into clothes.

Hides are used in the production of coatin, a process that includes skinning, drying, and greasing them with a mixture of sour milk and flour. After four days, the skins are washed and stacked in heavily concentrated salt water. After a further period of drying, the inner side is scraped with a special knife before being heated thus imparting a whitish color to the skin. The skin is then ready for dying in various colors: yellow dye is made by boiling the crushed root of a Taranovy plant; red dye is made from the root of a plant named Uiran Boyau, and orange dye is often made from the dried crusts of pomegranates.

Kazakhs use white wool, and consider wool from the neck of sheep and camels to be particularly valuable.

In ancient times, imported cotton, silk, and woolen fabrics were used by Kazakh nomads. The nobility in feudal times used imported fabrics to make clothes while less affluent Kazakhs wore fur, leather, and self-made woolen products. Fabric may be home-spun and produced on primitive horizontal machines.

Women's clothes[edit]


Women wear a shirt-like garment known as a koylek. It is sewn from different fabrics depending on the purpose - from inexpensive fabrics for daily use to more expensive ones for festive wear. The dress is made by folding an integral piece of fabric in half and sewing the sides laterally from the armpits to the bottom hem.


Kazakh girls wear trousers sewn from a sheepskin, homespun cloth, and dense cotton fabrics. Trousers may be short (shalbar) or long (dalbar).


A kupe is a warm women's clothing typically made of fox fur, and rarely made from goatskin.

Female headgear[edit]

Headgear indicates the relationship status of a woman: unmarried girls wear a skullcap and a warm cap with a fur edge. For rich girls, these hats are made of a bright velvet and embroidered with a golden thread.


The headgear of the bride is called a saukele. These tall headdresses are often over a foot tall with very expensive ornaments, such as pearls, coral, and pressed silver embedded.[4] Long suspension brackets called zhaktau are fastened to either side of the saukele, framing the bride's face. They can sometimes be long enough to reach the waist of the bride.[5] Poor women make these headdresses from cloth or satin and decorate them with glass beads. The zhaktau are later added.


After the birth of her first child, a woman puts on a headgear made from white fabric and often wears it for the rest of her life. Detailing of the headgear depends on the region and consists of two parts: the bottom (kimeshka) is placed on the head then the top is twisted to form a turban.

Men's apparel[edit]

Men wear two types of skin shirts without an undershirt, a pair of inner and outer trousers along with loose fitting outer clothing such as dressing gowns made from various materials. Leather and cloth belts are obligatory parts of their suits.


In the 18th century the top trousers or shalbar were sewn from homespun camel hair fabric and skin. They bore embroidered silk patterns in designs shaped like vegetables, the ends quite often sheathed by an ornate band, lace, and edged with fur.


Camisoles were sewn from monochrome dark fabrics and occasionally from striped or motley fabrics. They had a cloth lining often insulated by a thin layer of wool.


Main article: Chapan

One of the main articles of clothing of the Kazakh was the shapan or chapan - a spacious long dressing gown.[6] These robes are not as gender specific as other articles of clothing, and both men and women commonly wear them.[7] Shapan is sewn from various fabrics, easy, dense, in various colors although most often in the main monochrome or dark colors. These are lined with a layer of wool or cotton wool. Festive shapan is sewn from velvet and decorated with applique, brushes, and gold embroidery. Such a dressing gown was part of the clothing of rich Kazakhs.


A coat made of animal skin, or a Ton, is a common article of winter clothing for the Kazakhs. Often times these are made of sheepskin, but not always. For example, they can make coats from raccoon skin ("Janat ishik") or silver foxes ("kara tulki”). Nobles wore a fur coat that was made from blue cloth and covered and trimmed with the beaver skin called a “kok ton."[8] Tons are often made by sewing together tanned sheepskins with wool on the inside, and prosperous Kazakhs wear tons made from the skins of four- to five-month-old lambs.


  1. ^ [1] Fergus, Michael and Jandosova, Janar, "Kazakhstan: Coming of Age," Stacey International, 2003, page 216. ISBN 978-1900988612
  2. ^ [2] Waters, Bella "Kazakhstan in Pictures," Twenty First Century Books; 2nd edition, 2007, page 37. ISBN 978-0822565888
  3. ^ "Kazakh Traditional Clothing: Past and Present". 17 May 2016. 
  4. ^ "Kazakh Saukele (female wedding headdress: from Sakas to Kazakhs through millenniums)". Kunstkamera. Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography. Retrieved 18 February 2017. 
  5. ^ "National Kazakh Wear". Visit Kazakhstan. Retrieved 18 February 2017. 
  6. ^ [3] Hanks, Reuel R., "Central Asia: a global studies handbook," ABC-CLIO, 2005, page 232. ISBN 978-1851096565
  7. ^ "Shapan (the dressing gown)". National Digital History of Kazakhstan. August 8, 2014. Retrieved 24 February 2017. 
  8. ^ "The Kazakh national costume reflects the ancient traditions associated with their ethnic history, economic, social and climatic conditions". National Digital History of Kazakhstan. August 4, 2013. Retrieved 24 February 2017.