The yurt is a traditional dwelling of nomadic and semi-sedentary peoples of Asia. For several centuries it was a home for the Mongols, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Turkmen, Uzbeks and, of course, for the Karakalpaks. In Uzbekistan, such type of dwelling is widespread in Karakalpakstan. For the inhabitants of the Aral Sea region, who were engaged in agriculture, cattle breeding and fish farming, the yurt had not only practical, but also mystical, spiritual, philosophical meaning.
The yurt is very symbolic. This is not just a shelter, but it is a place of family reunification, a powerful rear and a strong fortress for people. The Karakalpaks have long used several types of yurts: the usual “kara-uy” and the festive “otau-uy”. In winter, the yurt was set up in covered courtyards, and in summer it was placed near the creek, in the shade of trees. Therefore, the Karakalpaks used both stationary and portable dwellings.
Nowadays, a yurt is used only in hot summer. Its unusual design has its own characteristics. Different yurts are assembled from 6, 8 rarely 12 folding parts and a supporting lattice. The graceful blocks are bent into a circle – “shanarak” – the base of the dome of the yurt. From here, like a basket, beautiful reed slabs – walls are woven. “Shanarak” with its mass holds the frame. Earlier, in winter it served as a chimney, and now it serves as an ordinary light window. Its spherical design promotes air condensation. Rain and snow waters flow down the outside. Inside it is warm in the winter cold and cool in the summer heat.
The crown of the dome “shanarak” and the hearth embodied the symbol of the sun and its hypostasis-fire, were perceived as a pillar of the Universe and a generic sign. The so-called “ayak-bau”, which were made of yarn and meant the offspring in the family, were hung from the rim of the crown. The crosshair of the crown was oriented to the cardinal points, and it was always open, closing only in bad weather. This made it possible to observe the stars and the sun and determine the time of the day.
Since ancient times, the entrance to the Karakalpak yurt was from the south. In this case, the “place of honor” opposite the entrance turns out to be the most comfortable part of the room. The interior of the yurt was divided into the right side of the place of honor “ong zhak” and the left side – “sol zhak”. The right one was given to men. In addition to clothing they could keep a decorated saddle, horse harness and a bird of prey. The left side of the yurt was for women, housewives. There were a hearth, dishes, household bags and sacks with groceries hung on the “kerega”. There should not be random things in the yurt. This is an ancient law of the unity of benefit and beauty.
In Karakalpakstan, the ancient town of artisans, Chimbay, has been remained. And the masters “uishi” are famous there, who make yurts using a technology that has not changed for several centuries. This is an amazing place, and it seems that time has stopped its course there.
Karakalpak craftswomen achieved great mastery in the decoration of the premises. The yurt has some original features in terms of decorative and artistic solution and silhouette.
Initially, yurts were identified with the model of the cosmos of nomadic culture. Most of the life of the nomads passed in their microcosm-yurt. And the Universe outside of it served as macro space.
Thus, the yurt was the main object of artistic and aesthetic self-expression of the people. It enhanced the development and improvement of the creativity of talented people. In and around the yurt, not only decorative and artistic tastes and abilities of the people games arose and developed, but also other forms of culture, such as folklore, music, epic, rituals. It was the center of the formation and the development of moral and philosophical views.