Ornament is one of the oldest forms of decorative art. Its history goes back to thousands of years ago. Translated from the Latin ornamentum, it means “trappings, adornment, embellishment” (“Ornament”). However, in its infancy, the ornaments have a deeper meaning. Art critics are trying to decipher ancient images and understand the hidden meaning of signs and symbols. So far, it is believed that the key to understanding many of them have long been lost, and, nevertheless, the interest to the ancient art continues being unabated. Many ornamental motifs were passing from generation to generation, and they have remained almost unchanged for centuries.
In ancient times people believed that the iconic images help them communicate with the other world of gods and spirits, and fulfill the role of a mediator between the worlds. Often, ornamental images were “the impulse to adorn stems from a deep rooted sensibility to mark every occasion of life with auspicious symbols, designs and figures to obtain good fortune and protection from evil” (“The Ideal of Ornament”).
Each nation created its own unique decorative style. The originality and national color can accurately determine its membership of any group. In the East, the art of ornament was most extensively developed, and this is due primarily to the ancient traditions.
In the second half of 1000 BC, nomadic tribes in Kazakhstan had Scythian style of ornamentation. According to Wikipedia, it was “often the central ornaments for shields carried by fighters. In the most notable of these figures, stags are displayed with legs tucked beneath its body, head upright and muscles tight to give the impression of speed” (“Scythian art”). These figures of fighters signified the victory of the sun over the darkness in early spring.
In the fine arts of Kazakhstan, the art of ornamentation has been dominant since the formation of the Khanate in XV century until the end of XVIII - early XIX centuries. There were four types of Kazakh ornaments: cosmogonic, zoomorphic, herbal and geometric.
Cosmogonic motifs came from the ancient culture of tribes and people. One of the ornaments is called “dongelek” (see fig. 1), a circle, “ornamental incarnation of the sun, because in the view of Kazakh life-giving image, the sun is diffused in rays of security”, and it also has “cleansing” effect and helps to have a good luck (“Kazakh ornament”). Fig. 1. “Dongelek”
Crossings and spirals (see fig. 2) are also cosmogonic ornaments; they came from “the time of ancient Saka, symbolizing outer space, the four cardinal directions and the perpetual motion” (Dzhanibekov). Fig. 2. Crossing and spiral
Other elements of ornamentation are the moon and stars (see fig. 3), which mean natural way of life: day and night.
Fig. 3.Moon and stars
Next type of Kazakh ornaments is zoomorphic style. This type of ornamentation is...