by Sarah Corbett
Worn by the Turkoman peoples of Central Asia, the asyk is an imposing adornment which is suspended from the hair by use of plaits as a back ornament.
There are many sizes and decorative styles, all of them incorporate a symbol which to the Western eye is a heart, although it is more likely to represent the protective head of a spear. However the exact Historical symbolic significance is lost in time.
Different tribal groups in the region adorn their Asyk by different techniques.
The Saryk groups who originate in Northern Afghanistan typically wore plainer pieces without etching or gold washing. Their Asyk includes the cabachons of bright orange carnelian which are also present in all other regional styles. The simple décor of their Asyk comprises of these cabochon and edgings of gallery wire, which is formed by winding wire around rows of pins.
Tekke Asyk feature intricate engraving and gilding to sit alongside it’s cabochon.
Yomud pieces feature fire gilded applied pieces mostly diamond shaped, but sometimes mixed with circles or crescents.
Examples of Asyk can vary greatly in size, likely as an indicator of status. Some examples are recorded which were so large and heavy that the wearer required assistance to enable her to walk.
Pieces of this style are still made today, many for tourism rather than for use in a tribal context.