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The Kalpak is a felt hat worn by the Kyrgyz people, especially near Lake Issyk-kul. The word Kalpak is also etymologically derived from the name of the Turkish minority, the Karakalpak. The Kalpak has entered Eurasia since the Middle Ages. It is the European steppe hat worn from Hungary, Bulgaria to Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. It is a symbol of cultural identity for different ethnic groups, with the steppe as a connecting element. The popularity of this felt hat has to be seen in the ecological reality of the steppe. Nomads are forced to travel around with light materials, such as the yurt. Nomads in the steppe are the most famous hat wearers in Western history. The four white areas on the hat represent the Kyrgyz mountains, which are always covered with snow. The sides represent air, water, fire and earth.

The Kalpak protects the nomads from the sun and the cold during the harsh winters. The yarn tassel symbolizes prosperity. The Kalpak has also earned a place on the Unesco Intangible Heritage List.

Felt is a non-woven textile made by compressing wool. The fibers are treated with hot water and form the structure of the material by shrinking. Felt was probably the first form of textile man made. The oldest preserved felt remains date from around 6500 BC and were found in Asia. The felt hat made its appearance in Europe at the end of the Middle Ages and was a sign of wealth.

But who now gives the name of a felt hat to his house? A home can be seen as a cocoon where people can relax and which offers protection against the harsh and sometimes angry outside world.

Kalpak here symbolizes a place where everyone is welcome!

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