National Kazakh Wear

For centuries, Kazakh national clothes were simple and rational. It was characterized by common forms for all segments of the population, but with a certain social and age regulations. Elegance and beautiful elements to dresses were given by fur trim, embroidery, jewelry. Traditional materials for the clothes were leather, fur, thin felt, cloth, which was produced by the local population. Clothes sewn from imported materials - silk, brocade, velvet, were a kind of measure of wealthiness of their owners. Cotton was also widely used.
Kazakhs have always valued animal skins and furs as sewing material. Coats, or so called Tons, were sewed from animal skins, and fur coats, such as Shash were sewed from furred animals, which were perfectly suitable for weather conditions in Kazakh Steppes. Outerwear was prepared from skins and furs of wild and domestic animals, according to the names of which, clothes were called: Zhanat tone - a coat of raccoon fur, Kara tulki ton - of a black fox fur, Kamshat boryk - a beaver hat, Bota ton - a coat from camel skin, Zhargak tone - from a foal skin, etc. Many kinds of clothing were made from felt. Predominantly white coat was used for its production, and thin fur from sheep's neck was considered particularly valuable.

National clothes of Kazakh women

A Kazakh woman traditionally wore a dress with a waistcoat. Generally, outerwear of women was similar to that of men: similar jackets, waistcoats, gowns, wide leather belts, it differed from men's only in colours and some decoration details.

Headwear of Kazakh women, similar to many other nationalities, was also a kind of indicator of their marital status. Headwear of married women differed in different tribal groups, but girls' headwear was comparatively similar throughout the territory of Kazakhstan. Girls used to wear hats of two types: skull cap (Takiya) and a warm hat (Borik), decorated with otter, fox or beaver fur. A tuft of owl feather was often sewed to the top of takiya for decoration purposes, which also played a role of a talisman. Gimp, tassels, gold embroidery and even silver coins were also used for decoration.

Kazakh women's national bridal headwear Saukele, which is a high (70 cm) conical hat, is of particular importance (see pic. on the left). The most expensive of them were evaluated in a hundred selected horses. Saukele was a mandatory part of girl’s dowry, and was prepared long before the girls reached the age of marriage, together with a wedding gown, which was often made of expensive fabric, usually red coloured. Bride was supposed to wear a saukele during the wedding ceremony, then it was worn on holidays for some time after the marriage. 

Saukele is decorated by metal fishnet tops, tiara (sometimes made of gold with inlays of semiprecious stones or strings of pearls, corals, etc.), temple pendants and chin decorations. Saukele cone is covered with cloth, which was sewed by metal badges of different configurations, into bezels of which precious and semiprecious stones are inserted. A broad ribbon of expensive fabric, decorated with fringes of gold thread, was also attached to the back of saukele, which went down to cover a part of the back of a girl. Compulsory supplement to saukele is a long suspension, called zhaktau, which is attached to it from both sides, reaching the waist of a girl.
The most skilled craftsmen participated in saukele manufacturing: cutters, embroiderers, jewellers, who applied the moulding, embossing, stamping, etc. during the process of manufacturing. It took a year or even more to prepare one such saukele.

With the birth of the first child a woman put a headwear of a married woman on (see pic. on the right), which was worn until her old ages. The details of this vary a little depending on the age of woman and region she came from. This headwear consisted of two parts: the bottom - kimeshek worn on the head, and the top - in the form of a turban, wound over the bottom part of the headwear. Both parts were made from white fabric. These types of headwear are worn by older women even today.

National clothes of Kazakh men

Kazakh men used to wear different skullcaps (takiya), summer and winter hats. Summer hat - kalpak was sewed from thin felt, mostly white, and had a specific ancient cut. Borik and tymak were worn in winter. Tymak is a warm winter hat with earflaps and neck flaps made from fox, which is popular among Kazakh men even nowadays. Bashlyk is another national headwear, made of camel cloth, which was supposed to be worn on top of other hats, to protect from dust, sun, rain and snow.

Men's clothing consisted of the following components: Double under vest (zheyde), lower pants - made of light fabric and the upper - of cloth, suede, sheepskin or thick cotton fabric. From the early ages, when the Kazakhs used to go horseback riding, trousers were a necessary and important part of their clothing.
The main type of outer clothing was shapan, a kind of robe.

In old times men's and women's footwear were also similar, though girls’ boots were often decorated with embroidery and appliqué work. Footwear differed according to seasons. For example, winter boots were tall, broad-shafted, worn over the felt stockings. Also there were differences between footwear of older and younger people. Young people often wore boots with high heels (up to 6 - 8 cm), older people – with low heels. Another common type of footwear among Kazakhs was light boots without heels, tight fitting on legs, called ichigi or masi. Leather kebis was worn over them, which was supposed to be put off at the entrance to the house.


A great variety of different decorations - great applications, patches were used on clothing, headwear, footwear. Carnelian, coral, pearl, pearl, coloured glass were used to decorate gold, silver, copper, bronze jewellery of women. Earrings, flat and wrought bracelets and rings were extremely beautiful. Rings depending on their traditional forms have specific names, such as a Bird's beak ring. Belts - a compulsory element of both male and female clothing - were decorated especially: it was ornamented with embroidery; silver badges were sewn on it.

Types of jewellery usually depended on age, social and marital status of those who wore them. Some of them were typical for certain territorial groups.

People's clothing is constantly being targeted by fashion designers, designers. Contemporary clothing, created using national motives, is always original and unique.

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