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Reed: “chiy” mats

Chiy is made from a kind of reed, or grass, which grows on the steppes and for years the long reeds have been harvested – cut and dried. The reeds themselves are strong and when braided together with wool of various colours they form a mat are provide a sturdy, long lasting mat which can be decorated, or left plain.
The Cheber is the master who designs the outline of a pattern on the reeds with a needle. Then each stem of Chiy grass has different coloured wools wound round it. It is not possible to design an exact pattern as with a shyrdak – but skilled masters can create intricate designs and patterns.

Usually the manufacturing process takes place outdoors. Chiy mats have several varied uses. Decorated ones (called Chyrmagan kanat chiy) can be found inside a yurt both as decoration and an extra layer of insulation. Another type (called Ashkana chiy) is used to separate the women’s part from the rest of the yurt.

They are sometimes used out of doors as wind breaks offering protection near a fireplace, or wool that has been left to dry. They are sometimes laid underneath the thick felt carpets helping preserve them from dampness. Chiy mats are also used as a moulding press in the manufacture of shyrdaks and ala-kiyiz.  Stems of Chiy grass are sometimes used in the manufacture of various types of household articles such as containers for kitchen utensils.