Kiyiz is the Turkic (not Turkish, mind you) word for felt rugs that can be found from Mongolia to the North Caucasus. Designs and pronunciation may change some from country to country, people to people, but the production, pride of craftsmanship, and beauty of these rugs is a constant.
To make a kiyiz, wool is gathered, soaked in water, and then pressed together, normally by rolling and wringing. As the wool is pressed, the fibers begin to stick together, forming a mat. Layer after layer are added until the desired thickness is reached. Then, a new layer of felt is dyed and a pattern is cut out. This pattern is then worked into the mat in the same way until the pattern layer is fused to the rug.
The process is grueling. Depending on the size of the rug, production can require from 4 to 10 people working in shifts all day for up to a month to make a single rug, but the finished result is durable and breathtaking.
Sadly, this art form is dying. Few outside of Central Asia even know that kiyiz exist, and demand is almost non-existent. With more lucrative and less physically demanding work available, younger generations are showing less interest in learning the ancient skill of kiyiz making.
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