Magic camel hide crafts of Kirgiz Ethnic Group
Kirgiz nationality is one of the most ancient nationalities. Kirgiz people migrated around Yinisai River, Yili valley and Pamirs. The distinguished environment and nomadic economy chained them with camels. Camels are not only important transportation tools for long journeys, migrating and loading, but they supply meat, mild and fur. Astonishingly, Kirgiz people have developed a set of crafts to process camel hide, which is very rare in other livestock breeding nationalities.
Camel hide is very strong, hard and wear-resistant. Wise and experienced Kirgiz herdsmen utilize different part of camel hide to make various beautiful, light, flexible bowels, kettles, and pails, which are very suitable to livestock breeding life.
Camel hide bowels are made of camel knees. The whole processing method is as follows: cutting the whole camel knees, shelling them into bowel shape, removing outsider hair and inside flesh and fat, filling them to round shape with sand and putting away in the winding place; when they are dry, sand will be pour out and knees will be cut with the similar height to common bowels; 2 pieces of camel skin are seamed together and cut into round shape to make bowel props; and bowels take their shape. Then fine process begins. At first, bowels are wore and kneaded continuously until they are smooth; ghee are smeared on them and heated on the fine fire for days to let ghee absorbed by camel hide. As camel knees always touch sand, they are very hard and friction-proof. Those bowels are golden very hard and easy to clean. Beautiful camel hide bowels are as good as modern porcelain bowels.
Camel hide kettles are made of hump hide. The whole processing method is as follows: 2 humps are cut down with flesh and fat removed; then they are cut into a shape which are large at the bottom, small at the top and lobe-like in the middle. Tow piece hide of that shape are seamed together and fill sand to maintain like a kettle, then dry it. While it is half-dry, 2 pieces hide separate are separated again, some alkali, sour mild and corn flour are added and rolled them together in order to let them leaven. After 15 days, remains of flesh and fat are soft and can be removed easily. Then 2 hide pieces are seamed together again carefully with embroidered pattern on the seam, face and mouth. As it said, the kettle was prepared for soldiers to wash their hands and faces.
Camel hide pails are made of camel neck. The whole processing method is as follows: a whole camel neck is cut down with flesh and bone removed to make a hide tube. Outside hair and inside fat are scraped carefully. One end of the tube is seamed, sand is filled and smashed, and the whole tube was basked to half-dry. Tube is restored with the seamed end open. Sand is poured out, ghee and fat are applied to inside pail wall, and pails are put over smoke and fire some time. A round camel hide is used to make the bottom of the pail. Seam the tube and bottom together, and perforate on the pail wall to fasten rope. A light and hard paid is well made, which can hold 5-6 km water or milk.
The history of making hide utensils is very long. However, many traditional hide utensils disappear as cheap modern commodities inpour. Bowels, kettles and pails Camel hide still are favorite things because of their distinguished features. They are not simple utensils, but also beautiful arts and crafts characteristic of nationality.