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Traditional Costume

Kazakhs lose no opportunity on festive occasions to deck themselves out in the striking and highly distinctive clothing of the recent past. Traditional Kazakh costume precisely suited life on the Steppe: its very hot summersy strong winds and the bitter cold of winter. Clothing was made of woollen, cottony silk or velvet fabricsy and outer garments were usually lined with fur.

The men wore shirts, quilted jackets у tunics and a distinctive longy loose coat: the chapan. Winter clothing consisted of quilted garments with an interlining of camel hair or sheep's wool у coats of fur or of leather with the fleece inside у and on top of these у wide cloaks made of thicky impermeable cloth. For winter their wide trousers were sewn from leather with the fleece insidey and for summer from either goat hide or Steppe antelope hide without fur.

The headwear of Kazakh men was a sharply pointed hat, trimmed with fox-fury sable or mink. In summer these were replaced by tall caps of thin felt. Typical nomad footwear was high-heeled boots which widened above the knees, and in summer light hoots with a curled toe (ichigs) or sandals.

The quality and ornamentation of a woman's clothes reflected her position in society. Unmarried girls wore conical hats trimmed with fur and decorated with ' eagle-owl feathers or small hats adorned with beads and precious stones. Dresses of silk, cotton or velvet were worn under a bodice or sleeveless jacket of woollen cloth, the borders often richly embroidered in gold or silver thread. Over this they wore a velvet or leather belt with silver clasps and decorative plaques. Older women wore jackets over free-flowing dresses, and on their heads a large kerchief or shawl wound in various ways (the kimeshek, jaulyk, sulama). Another garment was the beldemshe, a wrap-around skirt of velvet or thin cloth, gathered at the waist on a wide belt of the same material, fastened with buttons or a buckle.