Friday, November 9, 2012

Kara-Kalpak Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic - The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979).

Kara-Kalpak Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic

REFERENCE - THE GREAT SOVIET ENCYCLOPEDIA 1979 - An important source for those interested in the history, geography and cultures of the peoples of the former Soviet Union.

Some excerpts:

Natural features.

Kara-Kalpakia occupies the northwestern portion of the Kyzylkum Desert, the southeastern part of the Ustiurt (Ust-Urt) plateau, and the Amu Darya Delta. The southern part of the Aral Sea is located in Kara-Kalpakia. The northwestern part of the Kyzylkum is a vast, flat plain (elevations of 75–100 m), inclined toward the Aral Sea and covered primarily by tracts of ridged sands and barchans. There are isolated mountain massifs (the largest is Sultanuizdag in the southeast with elevations to 473 m). There are many channels, small lakes, tugai (gallery forest) and reed thickets, and swampy areas in the Amu Darya Delta. The right-bank section of the delta has more irrigated land and irrigation canals. The Ustiurt plateau, located in the west (elevations to 292 m, Karabaur), has a number of depressions, the largest of which—Barsakel’mes and Assake-Audan—are at elevations of 29–101 m. The plateau breaks off in steep scarps toward the Aral Sea and the Amu Darya Delta. The northern edge of the Sarykamysh Depression is located to the southeast of the Ustiurt plateau. There are deposits of common salt, Glauber salt, mineral building materials, and minerals.

Architecture and art.

Woodcarving (the doors of yurts) with cloth and ivory inlays, leather stamping, carpet making, weaving, and embroidery have been practiced by the peoples of Kara-Kalpakia since ancient times. Rugs, felts, carpet braids (akkur), and broad fringes (zhanbau), with designs in soft tones of brown, pink, pale green, and yellow on a white background, have been extensively used to insulate and decorate the yurt. Twentieth-century articles are characterized by the combination of red and yellow with brown, green, and dark blue. Kara-Kalpak jewelers combine silver, sometimes gilded, with cornelian, coral, and turquoise to decorate women’s clothing, men’s belts, and harnesses for horses. Strict geometric and floral designs, the main motif of which is the muiiz (ram’s horn), are characteristic of Kara-Kalpak art.


The most popular musical instruments are the dutar, a two-stringed plucked instrument; the kobuz and gyrzhak, bowed instruments; the balaman (a reed pipe) and the nai and surnai (flute family), wooden wind instruments; and the dep (tambourine), a percussion instrument. The shynkobuz, made from a small piece of iron, is used by women.

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