Women's costume

The Karakalpak women’s costume had a sacred meaning, identifying a woman as a mistress of needlework and telling about her age, social status and clan affiliation.

Karakalpak women’s and bride costumes depicted the images of young warriors described in the Kirk Kiz epic. For example, all Karakalpak girls wore a blue tunic, kok-koylek, from the age of 15-16, the same age of the epic’s heroine Gulayim. The dress was covered with coloured silk embroidery and contrasting stripe patterns angled toward the centre. Stylized earrings were often placed in the middle of the embroidery. The rest of the tunic was decorated with a “chain mail” pattern.

Girls from rich families wore traditional tubeteikas resembling a helmet or round tiaras made of gilded silver with turquoise and coral inlays. During a wedding ceremony the bride wore a tiara over the headdress saukele for the last time. The “visor” and “ear flaps” were adorned with a “royal seal” brooch, gilded silver “hunting bird” amulets, turquoise and corals. In addition, they were covered with several rows of coral beads and jewellery strings. The felt hat and ornate neck flap were decorated with red and black cloth embroidery. Embroidered strips and strands of coloured beads went down from the long neckpiece.

Specific costumes worn at different ages represented the whole life span of a Karakalpak woman. On holidays girls and women wore red or blue embroidered dresses. Young women wore dresses of motley Uzbek ikat, whereas elderly women had attires of red and white check. The oldest wore white apparels.

Dresses were matched with a cape robe zhegde that had false sleeves. Young women wore red silk zhipek-zhegde with an embroidered collar, while the elder ones had white cotton kesteli-zhegde, entirely covered with embroidery.