These handmade felt rugs are traditionally made by women in nomadic tribes in Kyrgyzstan, which is a country of rugged mountains and extreme weather in Central Asia. These sheep's wool rugs are called Shyrdak Rugs. The group, which was formed more than a decade ago, is comprised of women who work in small groups from their homes and they live near a small town in northern Kyrgyzstan that is on the Silk Road.
These rugs are amazing. The women follow a process for making these handmade felt rugs that has been handed down for generations from grandmother and mother to daughters. First, the wool is washed, dried and dyed into bright contrasting colors and pressed into sheets. Some sheets make the base layer and some sheets are cut into designs that decorate the rugs. Traditionally these rugs have been part of a young girl's dowry. They are keepsakes.
The sheep wool is washed, dyed, dried and ironed into sheets of bright contrasting colors.
Using chalk they trace the designs onto the felt. The designs on these handmade felt rugs include motifs that are symbols from their lives: water, goat horns and yurts. The pieces are laid out and then soak with a solution of soap and water.
The piece is then rolled very tightly to squeeze all the water out of it and to fuse the wool layers together. It takes a team to roll it very tight. The rolled rug is left to partially dry. Later it is unrolled to finish drying. The layers are also stitched together making them even more secure and durable.
The women often work outdoors on the grass. As you can see, their view is expansive.
These rugs are easy to care for. Shake them. Spot clean if necessary and for deep cleaning have them professionally cleaned.
We also feature this artisan group of hand felted rugs from Afghanistan.