Central Asia #31 National clothes and fashion of Central Asia
Human beings wear clothing for a variety of reasons: for temperature control and protection from the environment, for hygiene purposes, for self-expression, for status, for ceremony or special occasion, to uphold tradition, or to honor the past.
Folk clothing, worn in some regions of the world developed out of a need for functional daily wear, clothing for celebrations, and protection from the weather. These traditional costumes may only now be worn to honour one's own heritage or for cultural festivals.
Modern clothing serves multiple purposes - to indicate status (designer clothing vs. non name-brand clothing), for self-expression, to shield the body from the elements and for hygiene purposes (cotton underwear, for example, is healthy, drawing perspiration away from the body), and to uphold society's agreed-upon standards of modesty for both men and women.
Since the 1990's, with the increasing awareness of environmental and cultural ecological protection, many designers have focused on the Orient, Europe, South America and Africa as subjects.
Between 1999 and 2000, ethnic style became the mainstream of fashion. Clear imprints of ethnic style, such as embroidery designs, delicate lace, and bright colours became the fashion on all types of clothing and accessories.
Due to the differences in geographical environments, climates, cultural backgrounds, religious beliefs, customs and wealth, ethnic dress displays great diversity. Ethnic style is rich, flexible, and personalised which, fulfills people’s spiritual needs. Thus, in the field of costume design, ethnic style has become a major topic.
This issue of Discovery Central Asia is devoted to the “Fashions of Central Asia”. In its pages you will find the national dresses of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Azerbaijan, as well as modern fashion in these countries using ethnic styles. Such dress models ethnic features, pictorial patterns, colour relationships and fabrics. Its style is decorative, romantic and honest, and also reflects the desire to return to nature and back to basics.
The design of ethnic style clothing must be based on contemporary aesthetic requirements and habits; otherwise, it cannot enter the market, no matter how beautiful. Therefore, being aware and capturing modern fashion trends is key to success.
In terms of material selection on national dress, generally we use natural materials, such as cotton, hemp, feathers, woolen, silk, brocade, etc. Besides, synthetic materials and chemical materials are used also, which have good plasticity and wrinkle-free performance, making up for the inadequacy of natural materials. In addition, hand-woven cloth, handmade batik cloth, brocade and lace, are good materials, directly embodying national dress style.
To many people, in many cultures, music is an
important part of their way of life. Ancient cultures used music in
their mystical ceremonies, festivals, war dances, and work songs.
Later, religion and music amalgamated into a close relationship with
each other, which was used in Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and
Buddhism. These days, it is even used as medical therapy.
Music also serves as a universal language between nations. Many
organisations have implemented numerous programs and music initiatives
in Central Asia. Artists often exchange thoughts and collaborate with
each other through music. But most important of all, music can be used
to heal the world.
Music has long been an expression of people from different cultures
around the world. The oldest artifacts that show people
musical instruments are found in Asia and are around four thousand
years old. Other archaeological findings suggest that
cultures around the world have always focused on their own special
instruments, developing unique methods of playing them.
matter how much music may have differed in different parts of the
world, it seems that music has always served a general common
to bring people together. This is true whether it be at school, in the
workplace, in church, in the army, and even during revolutions (such as
those in Cuba or Brazil).
Therefore, music can be used not only as a vehicle for expression, but
also as a way to mobilise and inspire listeners to think differently
and take action. Musical styles change, messages to its listeners
change, the world's view changes.
Such a change was necessary in a country at the heart of Central Asia,
Kyrgyzstan, where a revolution took place on April 7th 2010. As with
every revolution it brought with it many challenges and obstacles.
Following the April events in Kyrgyzstan our SILK ROAD MEDIA office was
left in ruins, having been robbed by marauders. It left us without the
vital equipment and furniture we need to operate. Moreover, after the
bloodshed in the south of Kyrgyzstan, thousands of Uzbeks and Kyrgyz
were left without the means for existence. However, every revolution
leads to evolution. Therefore, Kyrgyzstan, in such a difficult period
of its history, should not lose the opportunity to promote its culture
and tourism opportunities throughout the world, and thus make itself
and its sufferings heard. We hope that people won’t stay
these events and make their contributions to heal the world.
In this issue, we want to make yet another revolution, this time in
your minds, by presenting “the Music of Central
Asia” that is as vast,
diverse and unique as the many cultures and peoples who inhabit the
Enjoy this issue, as if it is a concert held free of charge,
performed by artists from the six countries of Central Asia:
Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and
Central Asia # 29
Central Asia # 29
We are happy to present our latest edition of Discovery Central Asia,
the first in 2010.
Central Asia is becoming more well-known to the international community
as a region of strategic, economic and political importance. The
tourism attraction of the region has also improved in recent years as
it has become a fabled Silk Road destination. People are starting to
ask, who are these people? Who lives there? What are their traditions
and cultures? In the current issue we will try to give some more
information covering these topics, although as the saying goes you have
to see it to believe it!
We’ve been very lucky to get the most interesting authors in
this field from all over the world. The Central Asia region has a wide
diversity of cultures and people. Over 100 ethnic groups live there.
Our authors will cover just a few of them in this issue.
Professor Rafiz Abazov from the Harriman Institute has written a very
comprehensive introduction to the culture and traditions of Central
Asia. Vitaliy Shuptar brings your attention to several articles on the
Kazakhs who are known for their nomadic lifestyle. We even go deeper
into original Kazakh culture in an article on the Kazakhs of Western
Mongolia by Anna Portisch from SOAS. The Kyrgyz, whose history brings
them from Siberia to the mountains of the Tien Shan, which creates a
unique culture, are proudly presented by Kuban Mambetaliev from the
Kyrgyz Embassy in London and Elena Bosler-Guseva from AUCA. The Tajiks
are the only non turkic country in Central Asia with a deep Persian
influence but with a very original culture highlighted in articles
written by VSO volunteers in Tajikistan. Uzbeks are undoubtedly the
most vibrant nation in Central Asia with a long history, rich in
folklore and traditions. They are beautifully described in articles by
the celebrated writer Hamid Ismailov and Dr. Razia Sultanova from
Last, but not least, we have an article about the Russians, who are not
originally from Central Asia but with a population of almost 10 million
had a significant influence on Central Asian culture.
In conclusion we have included an article on national head wear by one
of the best specialists in this field, Irina Bogoslovskaya . This will
give you a better understanding of how Central Asian cultures can be
both similar and different at the same time.
Of course there is much more to write about, but we have limited space.
However I am sure we will return to this subject again to cover the
other nations and people of Central Asia, such as the Turkmen,
Karakalpak, Dungans, Uyugurs, Koreans and Tatars.
Please do write to us with your comments and ideas on future topics for