Felt, from which shyrdak rugs are constructed, was traditionally handmade from the wool of local sheep. The fleece was fluffed and separated, laid out in layers on reed mats, saturated with hot water, rolled, and wrapped tightly in heavy plastic. Rolling and kicking the roll along the road provided the agitation necessary for compacting and shrinking the fibers. After several hours, the fleece was unrolled and wet again. Women on their knees worked in rhythm, rolling the felt back and forth as they bore down with their arms, causing it to further harden and shrink.

Upukan Junysheva Tuyakova constructing a shyrdak
Photographer: Christine Martens