This name comes from the Kyrgyz word “kurak”, which means “to connect (stitch) together individual flaps.” This needlework technique is more than 2.5 thousand years old and is present in many cultures of ancient peoples.
The popularity of patchwork in ancient times is primarily due to its benefit, namely the ability to give an old thing a new life and use in everyday life. So there were patchwork pillows, blankets, elegant national costumes and carpets. But the traditional kurak carries not only a useful function, it has a deep sacred meaning and is part of the cultural heritage.
Ancient Kyrgyz craftswomen created real mosaic masterpieces from flaps using patterns: camel eye (“bot goats”), star (“zhyldyz”), crane (“turna-kurak”), amulet (“tumarcha”). But the most popular pattern was considered a black triangle protecting from the evil eye on a white background, it was often used when sewing children’s things and dowry.
The fabric from which kurak was created deserves special attention, it was given special importance. According to ancient beliefs, along with the fabric, vital accumulated grace (“kut”) was transmitted from one owner to another.
So, after the funeral of a respected, successful and happy person during his lifetime, all the women who came to the funeral were given shreds of clothes of the deceased to create new things using the kurak technique.
This tradition is called “zhyrtysh”, which means “breaking” in translation. Stitched things from donated rags were supposed to bring prosperity to the home of the new owners and preserve the memory of the deceased.
According to another tradition, on the 40th day after birth, the baby was put on a shirt made of 40 flaps donated by relatives. Each patch carried the good wishes of loved ones, and the whole shirt was supposed to protect the child from the evil eye and evil influences.
In addition, the children’s shirt sewn using the kurak technique was a kind of family archive.
While the baby was growing up, his mother told him which family member and with what wishes each shred in his shirt came from.
Thus, kurak is not just an economical sewing technique, this whole ancient philosophy of transforming the old into the new, which preserves the very essence – spirit, grace, good.