Unique handcrafted felt rugs from the Tien Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan
Welcome to my website which is a show case for hand made felt rugs from the mountains of Kyrgyzstan.
My name is Paul Philpott and in 1993, I set up the first Save the Children Fund aid and development programme in Kyrgyzstan, shortly after the fall of communism, and have maintained close links with the country ever since.
In collaboration with local people, my aim is to support women's cooperatives in the remote mountain villages of Kyrgyzstan.
Making shyrdak felt rugs is a dying art because the women who make them are giving up their craft to pursue other activities which better reward their time and effort.
By opening up markets for these rugs in other countries, my aim is to help local people in Kyrgyzstan generate more income and keep this traditional craft alive.
To see more examples of these beautiful rugs and to find out how to buy them please explore our online shop.
For more pictures of the rugs and how to order them please click here.
Felt has been made and used by Central Asian nomadic peoples for over two and a half thousand years.
Traditionally, in countries such as Kyrgyzstan, nomads lived in yurts made of and decorated with felt, migrating from winter lowland pastures to summer mountain meadows with their herds of sheep, cattle and horses.
The Merino and Karakol sheep that are raised produce some of the finest wool in the world.
Since Stalin began his collectivisation programme in the 1930s, the nomadic way of life has gradually diminished but the rich felt-making tradition lives on.
Highly patterned and closel-worked felt floor covers are still produced for daily use in houses and flats as well as for use in the traditional yurts.
Kyrgyz 'mosaic' felt rugs, or shyrdak, are made from two sheets of white felt which have been dyed, cut into identical shapes and reassembled into a mosaic-like textile of interlocking positive and negative patterns.
Couching threads in a contrasting colour highlight the overall design, and cover and strengthen the joins between felt sections.
Quilting is also used to add a relief effect to the pattern, and to strengthen the carpet by attaching it to a naturally-coloured backing felt.
The border edge is often covered by braidwork.
Please watch the video on the left hand side of this page or click here to learn more about how shyrdak felt rugs are made.