At jabuu (horse harness)

Country: Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyz usta with his saddle

At jabuu (horse harness) represents a remarkable achievement of nomadic Kyrgyz culture. Its combination of function and aesthetics has been a long-standing source of pride for Kyrgyz hunters, soldiers, cattlemen.

Manufacturing horse harness involves craftsmen that work with leather, felt, weaving, embroidering, weaving, artistic processing of metal, copper and silver. Masters who make horse harness are called usta.

Detail of the bridle, Naryn province, twentieth century

The base of the saddle eer is made of a heather, poplar, pine or birch, as well as a special kind of poplar (baka terek). Proper wood processing ensures the strength and durability of the saddle. For this, the wood is dried, kept in the shade, protected from moisture and direct sunlight. The wooden base of the saddle is covered with thick bovine or camel skin. The skin is attached to the base with decorative metal nails in such a way that the nail heads make up a pattern on the saddle. Fancy leather saddles and horse cloth (terdik) are finished with embossing and silver ornamented plates.

Bridle (jugon), girth (basmayil), breast-collar (komolduruk), crupper (kuyushkan) are often richly decorated with embossed or flat metal plates, covered with patterns made in blackening, chiseling or denting techniques. Stirrups are usually made of copper or an alloy of white metal.

At jabuu is made in two variants, summer and winter models. Summer models are made from woven carpet cloth or velvet, while winter models are from thick felt. They are decorated with bright embroidery featuring plant and solar motifs and large decorative tassels, which also play the role of talismans-amulets. Saddle cover (kopchuk) is made of velvet, with wide embroidered strip along the edge. Among the ornamental motifs of embroidery, there is often a round rosette with four horn-shaped curls (kochkor muyuz), horn of a ram, and the motif of a climbing shoot called kiyal.

Kamchy lash is made with special attention and is woven from rawhide. Its handle is made of durable meadowsweet (Spirea) or juniper and is decorated with silver. Sometimes the handle is made from the horn or limbs of mountain goats. In ancient times, folk healers and shamans used a whip to heal people or to get rid of evil spirits. The lash was also used as talisman and would be hung from the bed top. As a symbol of power and authority, kamchy remains a significant gift.  

Good horse gear is often more expensive than the horse itself. In ancient times a set of elegant horse harness was an integral part of the dowry of a bride.

Renowned masters include Jylkychy Sharshenbiev, Joldosh Musayev, Talant Sarybaev, Kurmanbek Sartymatov and Ashat Aitkulov.


Кыргызское седло и снаряжение для лошади

Kapalbaev O. E. Kyrgyz traditional craft for the manufacture of leather (late XIX – early XX century) // Young Scientist. – 2016. – № 16. – P. 279-282.