This week I’m focusing on the beautiful rugs produced by the nomadic people of Kyrgyzstan, known as Shyrdaks. Shyrdaks have been listed since 2012 as part of UNESCO world heritage status. I had heard of Persian carpets but not Shyrdaks until I spoke to Henning Stirner, a documentary film cameraman who got to know Kyrgyzstan through working on a documentary film project. Shyrdakjurte is an idea born out of a desire to help the local people of Kyrgyzstan. I’ll let Henning explain…. Welcome to the blog, Henning…
Hello. I am Henning Stirner, 58yo, and since 1997 I have been working as a cameraman/DoP, based in Berlin, Germany. For exactly 10 years I have also been the owner of Shyrdakjurte. 2023 is our 10th anniversary! Notice, get 10% off on the whole stock! Code: Anniversary-10%
What inspired the creation of “Shyrdakjurte”?
I did a documentary film which let me get to know the beautiful country of Kyrgyzstan, the great people living there AND the gorgeous Shyrdak rugs. Kyrgyzstan is one of the poorest countrys in the world and we try to help families to get some income.
The beautiful rugs, known as Shyrdak, are made by the nomad people of Kyrgyzstan. What makes the Shyrdak special?
The Shyrdak carpets are listed as UNESCO World Heritage. The production has been made for centuries, made by hand with material growing just in front of the Kyrgyz people’s doors. The thick felt carpets protect the nomadic people in their traditional yurts and while staying with their cattle in the mountains. The fascinating thing about producing these rugs is, that the women gather together working in circles on one piece. Actually two pieces, because the rugs are made by placing two different coloured felt sheets in layers one on top of the other, cutting them in one step and stitching them on a rougher bottom layer. This leads to two identical carpets, one negative & the other one positive.
You have a lovely wide range of rugs (and felt slippers) on your website. What rug designs are proving popular amongst your customers so far ?
That`s really hard to tell. Last few years it turned out that maný people love the natural tones (grey, beige, brown) BUT there are also many customers choosing the very colourful & bright designs. Customers’ wishes are wonderfully surprising, diverse and difficult to predict.
Do you have a particular favourite design?
I love the ORSLON BIP style, unfortunately sold out. But like all the designs, it could be tailor-made & produced in individally desired colours and sizes.
As you are based in Germany, and obviously the rugs are made in Kyrgyzstan, are your products available to purchase overseas?
Yes sure, we`re selling worldwide! We do have costumers in the United States from the east to the west coast. We have sold some pieces to Australia. The most customers abroad we do have are in Switzerland. A lot people in Germany and in the EU order at shyrdakjurte.com or for the slippers in our shop on ETSY.
Apart from buying standard sizes etc, your company offer a customised service too. How long, on average, does it take for a single rug to be made?
An individually tailor-made Shyrdak needs about two months until it`s delivered at the customer’s home.
What’s the best way to take care of the Shyrdak?
Carefully vacuum. Stains can be carefully dabbed off. If you do have snow in winter, do as the Kyrgyz do: Place the carpet with the good side down in the freshly fallen snow and pat it out. Expose your Shyrdak rug from time to time to direct sunlight.
Having visited Kyrgyzstan many times whilst making your documentaries, and since your Shyrdak enterprise… what are the things about Kyrgyzstan you adore or would recommend to a visitor?
The friendly people, the great landscape with huge mountains. Various peaks with a height of 5, 6 and 7 thousand metres. Wonderful green plains with the healthiest, happiest and most beautiful horses I have ever seen. The beautiful, huge mountain lake Issik-Kul, the largest after Lake Titicaca.
You are a cameraman for feature films and documentaries- since launching Shyrdakjurte, how have you managed to balance your time on both jobs?
Since Shyrdakjurte is an online shop, that’s no problem at all. If I’m abroad for a longer period of time, my son takes care of shipping and orders.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
Jeans, shirts or polo shirts and sneakers, leather jacket or goretex protection. Since my hair is decreasing, I wear hats in the summer to protect myself from the sun’s rays and in the winter from the cold.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?
https://stetson.eu/de.html ; https://www.lederware.de/; https://www.veja-store.com/de_de/; https://www.nudiejeans.com/de
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
Shoes, dufflecoat & cap.
Boots or Shoes?
Shoes, I don’t want to be restricted, my ankle must remain freely movable
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Shyrdakjurte
Such beautiful designs and colours! Thanks Henning for the introduction 😊
All photographs have been published with kind permission of Henning Stirner.