Kulmenov Family Continue Traditions of Nomadic Craft of Blacksmithing

NUR-SULTAN – The blacksmithing art of the Kulmenov family who make armor of ancient Turkic warriors and traditional household items of nomads is known not only in Kazakhstan, but also in other countries. 

Three brothers Tursynzhan, Aitbergen and Makhmut have been doing blacksmithing for over 40 years.

The Kulmenovs are members of the Union of Designers of Kazakhstan and founders of modern weapons art in Kazakhstan. Three brothers Tursynzhan, Aitbergen and Makhmut have been doing blacksmithing for over 40 years. 

Almaty residents learnt the traditions and secrets of this craft from their ancestor, great-grandfather Omar, who made equipment from iron and was a famous blacksmith in the region. 

Photo credit: Vechernyi Almaty newspaper.

The Kulmenovs recreate aybalta (axes), nayza (spears), doiyr and saketer – maces and flails with tips made of iron, shields, knives, swords and protective armor of the Kazakh warrior-horseman.

The craftsmen use traditional methods to make the items. 

“Our parents taught us the folk traditions and customs,” Makhmut Kulmenov said in an interview with the Vechernyi Almaty newspaper. “Since childhood, we read about the batyrs (heroes) and the legends around them. Perhaps these stories and tales inspired me to become a blacksmith.”

Photo credit: Vechernyi Almaty newspaper.

The master has read many historical books to recreate the details and spirit of that time. 

In addition to weapons and armor, the masters also make musical instruments, household items and ancient shamanic amulets that protect the wearer from evil spirits, which were an important attribute of nomadic warriors.

The craftsmen also create artworks for museums and props for films. In 2000, the Kulmenovs created the sketch for the Almas Kylysh (Diamond Sword) award, which goes to prominent figures in the cultural and creative sectors. 

The Kulmenovs are also engaged in scientific work at the national research and craft workshop. Students study the methods of reviving ancient technologies for the manufacture of decorative and applied arts and metal processing. In this way, the masters share their experience with the younger generation to maintain the forgotten traditions. 

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