Traditional Headdresses with Feathers in Kygryz Culture

On February 1, 2023, a first round table discussion on Traditional Kyrgyz Headdresses with Feathers took place at Aigine CRC. Artisans, elders, practitioners, researchers and manaschy took part in the discussion. The main focus of the meeting was to discuss the meaning and reasons for using various feathers on male and female headdresses.

The discussion revolved around four presentations that elucidated different aspects of the subject in question. Aidai Asangulova, artisan and head of the NGO Kyiyz Duino, shared findings of her research, according to which feathers of mainly eagle-owls were used as a protective amulet against evil/dark spirits on headdresses of young girls. It was also common to use feathers on elechek for older women to indicate maturity and peacock feathers on shokulo to indicate wealth and social status. Designer and researcher, Mirrakhim Oposh talked about spiritual meaning and symbolism. The feathers were mainly used by shamans and practitioners in an attempt to connect with forces of higher realms. Based on findings of an independent journalist and researcher of Kyrgyz genealogy, Shaakan Toktogul, female feathered hats served as a disciplinary tool to teach social grace and prepare girls for womanhood. Temirbek Toktogaziev, head of TV company Ekho Manasa and researcher of the epic trilogy, based his presentation on the Manas epic heritage and discussed the meaning of feathers on warriors’ hats, which were used as markings of belonging to a certain troop. The presentations resulted in a rich and fruitful discussion and opened ways to study the subject further.

The discussion was organized within the framework of the new initiative on Enriching Kyrgyz Indigenous Knowledge supported by the Worldwide Indigenous Science Network (WISN).