Pair of Uk Bash
Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan, 19th or 20th Century
Felt, embroidery, and animal hair
56 x 28 cm (22 x 11 in.)
Donna Endres Collection, Austin, TX
This Kyrgyz felt has been produced using an intarsia, or “mosaic” technique. Various shapes have been cut out from sheets of different color and then sewn together; reciprocal patterns are particularly popular. The nomadic Kyrgyz and Kazakh have developed the art of patterned felts to a high level, surpassing the work of their Turkmen neighbors, who arrange colored wools into a pattern that is “rolled-in” as the felt is compacted, producing a blurred-effect.
These objects, known as uk bash, (literally, “tent-strut head” or “cover”), have a simple utilitarian function. The tent strut is the part of the wooden frame that forms the roof and supports the roof felts of a nomad’s tent. The uk bash covered the end of a bundle of struts carried on a camel’s back during migration in order to prevent injury to the eyes of other animals. Although this use was correctly described years ago, it was doubted in some quarters for a lack of documentary evidence. This exhibition and its catalogue mark the first occasion that an image clearly showing how uk bash were used has been exhibited and published