The Karakalpak Jegde
The Karakalpak JegdeThe Karakalpak jegde was an unlined mantle, which was worn draped like a cloak but was placed over the head rather than the shoulders. It had very long false sleeves, which were folded so that they hung down behind the back where they were fastened together at the cuffs by a short cord.
A Karakalpak woman dressed in a qızıl kiymeshek and a jipek jegde.
The jegde was not a traditional item of Karakalpak costume. Such garments were not worn by the Qazaqs and the Kyrgyz. They were adopted
by the Karakalpaks after they had migrated from the lower Syr Darya into the delta of the Amu Darya. Here they came under the influence of the
southern Khorezmian Uzbeks, who wore the paranja, and the northern Turkmen, who wore the chyrpy.
There were three main types of Karakalpak jegde: the jipek jegde worn by young married women or by girls of marriageable age; the aq jegde worn by mothers and middle aged women; and the kempir jegde worn by elderly women.
Jipek jegdes had a collar made from red ushıga with an outer border of black ushıga. This was embroidered in
chain-stitch and was made separately before being attached to the body of the jegde. The edges of the jegde including the collar were
finished in raspberry red jiyek. Bunches of decorative red and green tassels were attached to the front, suspended from red and green
braid. The long tapering sleeves were folded over down the back of the garment and fastened together at the cuffs with fine red and green cords.
Jipek jegdes were worn by girls from about the age of 15 onwards, including newly married women. They seem to be a late addition to
Karakalpak traditional costume, having been introduced at some time in the late 19th century and becoming increasingly popular during the first
three decades of the 20th century.
The entire surface of the aq jegde was decorated with a geometric pattern of cross stitch embroidery including the back and the sleeves.
Usually the embroidery was based on a subtle palette of soft shades – raspberry pink or red, pistachio green, golden yellow and light cream. In
addition, the joins between the cotton panels were overembroidered with omırtqa vertebrae motif or with a simpler zigzag.
A separate collar, known as a jag'a, was made from a strip of coarse cotton bo'z, which was completely covered in tight geometrical cross-stitch patterning. The collars of later aq jegdes were usually made with a surrounding border of red and black ushıga decorated in chain-stich embroidery. Once again, the long tapered sleeves were folded down the back of the garment and fastened together at the rear using fine white cords and perhaps a small amulet.
The edges of the aq jegde including the collar and cuffs were finished with raspberry red jiyek.
Aq jegde were worn by women aged from about 30 to 50 years old. Usually the more complex the embroidery decoration, the higher the status
of the owner. For ceremonial occasions and festivals the aq jegde would be worn over an aq kiymeshek and a white turban.
As with the kesteli aq jegde, the main part of the collar was made from coarse cotton bo'z embroidered in cross-stitch. This was often
surrounded by an edging of red and black ushıga decorated with chain-stitch. The edges of the jegde were finished with
jiyek or red cotton.
There was a second similarity with the jipek jegde - it was also worn by young women. Evidence for this comes from the photograph of a
similar jegde being worn by a young model in the 1930s and from the known history of a specific example:
This was made at the very late date of 1953 by a woman aged 25. We know from the woman's daughter that her mother wore the jegde while she
was still a young girl.
This page was first published on 6 March 2007. It was last updated on 4 February 2012.
© David and Sue Richardson 2005 - 2013. Unless stated otherwise, all of the material on this website is the copyright of David and Sue Richardson.