Necklaces, bracelets, heavy earrings, massive rings made of silver or gold are the pride of Kazakh jewelers. They surprise with a unique design, ornament and details. Jewelry craftsmanship in the Kazakhstan steppes originated in the Bronze Age and has a long history.
Jewelries were worn by women, men, and children. Earlier, jewelries had important social and religious significance. From birth to death, Kazakh women wore different types of jewelries. Jewelry could tell almost everything about their owner: if she was married or not, what her age was, where she came from etc.
The first jewelry of a girl was ‘tumar’ (amulet). There were many types of amulets that were tied to the child’s leg or handle, sewn on a hat or hung over the head of the bed. People believed that tumar will protect a child from diseases, evil eye and bad people.
There are several varieties of chest decorations. They are classified by form:
Onirzhiyek is a necklace that was made of three rectangular plates that were hollow inside. This decoration was usually worn by married women. This item was of particular importance for nursing mothers. He protected from the evil eye and contributed to the addition of milk.
Omrausha is a necklace made in the shape of an arc. It was decorated with corals and stones. It also performed a protective function and strengthened female energy.
It was a tradition for kazakh girls to have braids. From childhood, they were decorated with hats decorated with silver and precious stones, and special pendants were placed on their heads.
Shashbau is a pendant for braids. The ancient Kazakhs believed that part of woman soul lived in her hair, so the ribbon decorated with bells and medallions drove demons away from her. Shashbau was made of precious metals and decorated with floral ornaments.
Sholpy is jewelry that was worn by young girls. It is a pendant, which consists of small coins strung on each other or metal plates. It was used to form the girl’s correct posture: a heavy decoration pulled her hair, so it was constantly necessary to control her straight back. Moreover, under the weight of the sholpa, the hair grew long and strong.
Kazakh women had to wear earrings. They showed the origins, authority and status of women. Also, the earring, clothed in the nose, showed that the father loved his daughter very much. The more massive and beautiful the woman’s earrings, the more influential she was in society.
When woman was dying, all jewelry was removed from her, except for the earrings. It was believed that if you remove them, a snake will creep into the deceased’s ear and take her soul. Sometimes the Kazakhs put on an earring in the boys’ ears. Usually this was done if the buy was the only and long-awaited heir of the clan. Earrings were protecting them from the evil eye and from sudden death.
Kazakh girls were lots of accessories’, sometimes numerous bracelets and rings almost completely covered the girl’s hands. The bracelets for Kazakhs were not just female jewelries, men also were wearing them. Usually they were massive paired jewelry that emphasized the strength and courage of the defender.
Several types of bracelets are known:
tasty blezik - a bracelet that consists of framed stones;
zhuqa seldir blazik - bracelet that women wore on special celebrations;
bes blezik (the second name is ‘the rose of hand’) is the most famous version of the Kazakh bracelet. It has a complex structure: the basis is directly a bracelet, chains that lead to the rings.
A special place among women's jewelry is occupied by rings (zhzіk). Since ancient times, magical properties have been attributed to them: it was believed that rings have powers and protect against evil spirits. Therefore, two, three, or even four rings on the hands of a Kazakh woman were an must. For the Kazakhs, rings were a must-have accessory. It was considered indecent if a woman left the house without 3-4 rings.
Traditional Kazakh jewelry was made out of silver and gold. Master jewelers widely used in their work gems (jasper, chalcedony, amethyst, turquoise, carnelian, coral, crystal) and precious stones (topaz, pearls, rubies). Stones were supposed to protect their owner from disease, evil, misfortune, black envy. Stones were often called koz (eye). People believed that each stone have own meaning and power. For example: turquoise brings happiness; amber - cures many diseases, protects from troubles; coral - protects from spoilage and slander.
Among all stones, the carnelian was popular, which was considered a stone bringing prosperity and joy. Nomads believed that the cornelian "sun stone" will protect women from the evil eye, damage, infertility, and the elderly and weakened people will regain strength. Rings, pendants, bracelets, as a rule, were decorated with a symbolic decor, which included the wishes of happiness, a bright life, freedom, good.