Thursday, October 1, 2020


                     ( Fat tailed Kazakh sheep)
 ( A Mathura  sculpture  with typical Kishan attire)
                  ( A Karakul sheep)
(Children with sheep in Kazakhstan )


The  harsh  climatic conditions  of Kazakhstan  with a vast   nomadic population  may have created a  breeding ground for  unique Edilbay , the  Kazakh fat- tailed sheep that became national pride of the Kazakh nation,. Apart from meat-and-fat productivity, it also satisfied the demand for fine, semi-fine wool and Karakul raw material .
Wool for a Karakul cap is obtained in a very painful process from the animal. These caps are made from the skins of young lambs . It is said that the  finest and the most expensive of the Karakul caps are said to be from the fur extracted from the fetuses, taking the life of the mother. The cheaper ones are made from the fur of new-born lambs without harming them. .Some traders in  have stopped dealing in Karakul caps for this reason.Many animal rights organizations have  also campaigned against the usage of Karakuli cap .

In Kazakhstan, sheep are raised mostly at the country's fringes, in the northern mountains and along the southern tier. Three types of sheep are found in South Kazakhstan: white-wool (Merino and its crosses), Karakul and Edilbaiskaya, the traditional fat-tailed sheep of the region.

Kazakh sheep are very  tough as they   conform to the nomadic life in the semi-deserts of Kazakhstan.They are adapted to severe winter frosts and summer droughts, can travel over long distances and thrive on poor feed conditions. 

Karakuli caps and Kazakh Teer( sheep) used to be household words in Kashmir. 
Any person with good appearance and sharp physical features was referred to as 'Kazaakh Teer' in Kashmiri. I have many times heard Kashmiris saying this:-

" Yahai chhu Kazakh teer hue"

'"He/ She looks like a beautiful sheep or  goat from Kazakhstan"
 The Karakul cap is popular in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan Afghanistan and many other countries. Pioneered by Sheikh Abdullah , Karakul or  Karakuli cap continues to be  associated with the gentry and politicians in Kashmir. As a matter of fact, Karakul cap is not a Kashmiri cap by any means.The traditional headgear of the gentry in Kashmir has historically been the turban . I remember having seen some footpath vendors selling the cheaper version of Karakul caps in  Srinagar. They would sit near Broca press in Lal Chowk, carrying these caps in boxes or willow baskets. 

I was surprised to see something like a Karakul cap in a Mathura sculpture relating to second century AD.

( Avtar Mota)

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