Textiles were steeped in tradition and integral to central Asian life. Every piece a woman made had its specific function and place in the home, whether yurt or mud-brick house. The nomad’s tent itself was made from textiles. On the exterior, heavy wool felt kept out the fiercest winds, cold, and heat. Inside, knotted-pile and flat-weave carpets or felt rugs covered the earthern floor. Patterned wool tent bands helped secure the wooden frame.

Along with functional storage bags, embroidered decorative hangings were hung for aesthetic pleasure as well as to show off the women’s sewing skills. Protective symbols were also incorporated into the patterns, such as stylized scorpions, ram’s horns, and triangular-shaped amulets. Motifs were passed down from generation to generation within tribes. For example, Kyrgyz embroideries have a distinctive look from Lakai pieces, but what they all have in common is a love of pattern, color, and an amazing attention to detail – from the skillful stitching to the handmade fringe and tassels.