Saukele and Tobelem

By Arts & Culture Development Foundation under the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Uzbekistan

The exposition of the Department of Karakalpak national applied art opens with the most unique and archaic items from this collection. These are ceremonial women's hats associated with wedding rituals. These exhibits are the only ones in the Republic; the most fully restored by Moscow restorers in the 1970s and 1980s, are the national relics of the Karakalpak people.

Saukele (XIX century)Arts & Culture Development Foundation under the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Uzbekistan

Saukele

It is a helmet-shaped headdress described in many folklore sources, including the epic “Kyrk Kyz” (“Forty girls").  This saukele was purchased by Savitsky from an elderly woman from the town of Zaire, in the North of Karakalpakstan.

Saukele dates back to the XIX century, however, during the restoration, inside the cloth cap, paper was found, the age of which Moscow experts attributed to the XVII century.

Thus, it can be assumed that parts of this decoration, having an earlier origin, were supplemented by later details and updates. Saukele, like all religious objects, kept in families as a relic, passed from generation to generation.

Saukele (XIX century)Arts & Culture Development Foundation under the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Uzbekistan

On the back there is kind of a “peacock tail” – “Hulk”, going down the full length of the body.

With rich embroidery with floral ornaments, the style is very similar to suzane.

Saukele (XIX century)Arts & Culture Development Foundation under the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Uzbekistan

Headdress decorated with gold-plated metal plates in the style of the Scythian “animal style”, with inserts of gems – turquoise and coral.

The influence of the Scythians from the black sea region is explained by the migration of the Saka-Massaget tribes across the expanses of the steppes, up to the Black sea.

TobelekArts & Culture Development Foundation under the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Uzbekistan

Tobelem

Description of this headdress surveyor Muravin, a member of the expedition to the Aral sea, equipped by Decree of Peter the Great in 1740, was the first source of the existence of this subject, which refers to the first researchers of applied art Karakalpaks. 

In addition to basic scientific observations, Muravin described the life and culture of local residents. Along with many valuable data, we can find the description of tobelik, rules of its wearing.

So, he writes that young girls before a wedding could wear it directly on the uncovered head, on top of the hair; and on the wedding day, tobelem crowned saukele.

Metal plates with inserts of turquoise and coral also had the style of Sarmatian-Scythian decorative techniques. The analogue of Karakalpak tobelik is kept in the funds of the State Museum of Ethnography in St. Petersburg. Of course, both hats – personal items of elite and have the clan affiliation.

TobelekArts & Culture Development Foundation under the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Uzbekistan

Full ensemble gives a woman not only a special majesty and royalty, but also militancy, carrying echoes of the past Karakalpak people.

Credits: Story

Nowadays, these hats have inspired modern fashion designers to use them in revived forms, in modern ceremonial rituals and festive events

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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