Nowadays, travelling through Russia is are gaining popularity. Republic of Tatarstan is also very popular destination. If you visit Tatarstan make sure you also visit its capital – Kazan! It will impress you so much! The next question is- what to bring from Kazan. What will be memorable and important for you, your friends and relatives? It is better to avoid numerous useless souvenir shops for careless travelers. It is too simple to buy some magnets and mugs with photos of Kazan. Such things can be used only as a souvenir for your colleagues. In this article, we’ll try to make a good review of the best Tatar authentic souvenirs.
The character of ethnic minority can be easily represented by its national costumes. Every detail of it has a unique history and actually, it passed the test of centuries. Tatar national costume or any part of it may be an original souvenir for you and your relatives, maybe friends. Even nowadays some parts of traditional outfit are used in daily life by Tatar people.
It is impossible to pass by Tatar tyubeteykas. This antient man's headdress is called "tubetey". It is popular not only as a beautiful souvenir. Tyubeteykas are differ somewhat from the skullcaps of Central Asia - the top cap is flat, and the foundation of it is always round. They can be found in Kazan everywhere, of all sizes, of different materials and decorations. They can be luxurious or just simple and plain.
If you want to purchase the real authentic Tyubeteyka, not a chip Chinese fake, it will cost some money, but it totally worth it! It is better to choose the local product – these Tybeteykas are always handmade ones, they are decorated with a good velvet and embroidered with lace, sequins, little stones and gold thread. All these done according the old Tatar traditions. These beautiful Tybeteykas easily can be found in the shops on the main streets of Tatarstan. Prices vary from 300 Russian rubles to 2,000 rubles. The price as higher as the better the quality of a product (its material and complexity of the work).
Tatar women used to wear "megez kalfak" – headdress which looks like modern sports cap with a tassel. Often it was worn with another headband or with an elegant scarf. Kalfak was always richly embroidered with silver or gold threads, beads, freshwater pearls, semi-precious stones and twisted braid. This amazing design was complemented with a long fringe, gently rustling at every motion of the woman who was wearing it. Gold Kalfaki can be found in many Kazan’s museums. Today this beauty coasts approximately 1300-2500 rubles.
Tatar headdresses are not for everyone, but traditional Tatar shoes - Ichigo, shoes, slippers and boots are certainly for all of us!
The nomadic past taught Tatar people to skillfully fabricate the skin, to make a lot of leather household items and excellent shoes. Every item was made by hands only. Even now, real ichigi - lightweight boots, which are stitched with solid (internal) backdrop and soft toe, are handmade. They are made from a well-tanned soft leather, decorated with traditional patterns and decorative stitching which is called a special Tatar seam.
This kind of shoes was sewed by many eastern masters, but unfortunately, the tradition of the old masters almost died and are saved only in several rural areas. But Tatarstan masters managed to save the old technique. They’ve protected the best examples of Tatar’s art. Today, patterned Kazan’s comfortable boots, which are mentioned in fairy tales, can be found in special souvenirs’ shops.
Price is high and it starts with 8,000 Russian rubles, and it can be even more expensive due to the quality and complexity of the leather mosaic pattern. But if you try ones on – you’ll understand why the price is expensive. The pair of ichigi is always worth it.
Also, another pair of shoes in ethno-style can catch your eye - the slippers which are made of high quality leather with curved toepiece. This form of a shoe is connected with an old belief about the fact that people shouldn’t hurt the earth, touching it with toes. The price of such shoes is about 3 thousand rubles. If you want a cheaper slippers or a vegan one – you will find a pair which is made of artificial materials.
In Kazan, you can also find lots of other leather items in national style: decorative pillows with appliqués and ornaments, numerous decorations, bags, accessories.
If you want to purchase something warm or if you live in an area areas with cold winters, be sure to visit "Kukmorsky valenki" ("Кукморские валенки") - a shop which is located on Moskovskaya street. You will be certainly amazed by a surprisingly wide range of products which were manufactured in Kukmor’s felting factory. You can find there a pair of simple well-crafted boots from sheep's wool, and also a pair of really beautiful one, which can be a good present! A pair can be decorated with original prints and embroidery. Moreover, if you want a really special gift – you can make an order- to make a pari with a special design (with names or something else) with your own print.
According to the Tatar religion it is forbidden to paint pictures with people and even with animals. You cannot have such decorations in your house, so Tatar people created another type of decoration – paintings with an ancient Arabic calligraphy covering them. Written in beautiful Arabic script from the Koran, suras are often made in gold or silver thread on a beautiful velvet or thick silk. And there are shamailys - paintings which are made with ink on special sheets or canvas.
You can see shamailys in the apartments of Muslim Tatars and in mosques. In homes, they play the role of interior decoration and also a role of talisman, which protects the family from the possible negative. There is even a union of artists, specializing in the creating of shamailys. Their work can be seen in the museum of Islamic culture (Kul Sharif) and in the Kazan Kremlin.
You don’t have to know Arab language to appreciate the charm and elegance of the beautiful calligraphy. Many people purchase shamailys because of their exquisite beauty and as an art object. In the souvenir shops shamailys are cheap Chinese fakes on paper, canvas or plastic (their price starts from 300 rubles) or copies of famous works of art. Handmade works are much more expensive.
Muslim population predominates in the Republick of Tatarstan, so finding a beautiful edition of the Koran in different languages is easy. In the souvenir’s salons or good gift shops you can buy such a souvenir edition covered of thick velvet and embroidered with gold and stones, printed on very high quality paper. The holy book can be also placed in luxuriously decorated case. Prices for these souvenirs starts from 3500 rubles.
Another local souvenir, which is created on the basis of calligraphic inscriptions in Arabic is tugra. Tugra is an etomonogrammy which is made of the name or the name and the surname. Long ago, tugra was a personal signature of the rulers, but now tugra is a sort of painting. The background is usually - velvet, leather (silver and gold embroidery), metal (laser engraving) or special paper. You can choose a readymade tugra with an inscription in Arabic or Russian, or order a family tugra which will contain the names of all your family.
Tugra looks great in any interior.
Cats and dogs are loved by many people, but Cat Kazan is a collective image of a few urban legends. According to legend, Mouser cats were brought to St. Petersburg from Kazan. There is a monument of a cat on one Kazan’s street. Many different cats can be found in Kazan’s souvenir shops – ceramic figurines and porcelain of all sizes, funny piggy banks, key chains, magnets, pictures or decorative ceramic plates. Prices start from 100 rubles.
In any of the souvenir shops there are bowls with drawings of the Kazan Kremlin, Kul Sharif Mosque, the house of Shamil and other memorable places.
If you are not interested in purchasing the usual decorative plates, cups or bowls with the images of interest, it is possible to buy quite beautiful and functional tableware by local Kazan’s producers. Sets of bowls of different sizes, original dishes set (price starts with 2-4 thousand rubles), or the magnificent hand-painted porcelain, which price starts with more than 20 thousand rubles. There are also beautiful tea pairs of porcelain with national ornaments which you can afford.
Figures in traditional Tatar male and female costumes can be found in any gift shop. You can choose the usual "factory" dolls and author’s dolls – which are handmade, made of papier-mache, ceramics, plaster or enamel. Price will vary depending on the materials, the size, the quality. Even the famous Barbie is dressed in national Tatar costume here.
If you are a sport fan - scarves, caps, T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, towels, or pillows with symbols of sports clubs Kazan - "Ak Bars", "Rubin", "UNICS" will be a good gift for you. It’s best to purchase them in the one of the official store of the club - "Rubin" (in the Central Stadium), the "Ak Bars" has only an online store.
Another category of gifts, about which we should not forget is the national Tatar dishes and drinks. Being in Kazan, you should definitely explore the stunningly delicious Tatar cuisine. It is a pity that it is impossible to take with you delicious qistibi with potatoes and onions, and peremyachi and belishes with delicious and juicy meat stuffing, golden triangles - echpochmak or multilayer Gubad with the cort (special cottage cheese) and raisins.
But there are dishes, which you can take with you and please the taste of your friends and relatives. Firstly, it is chak-chak. Small balls of fried dough, generously drenched with hot sweet honey syrup and stuck together in pyramids, this dish is familiar to lots of people who are even not Tatar and live far away from tatarstan. But the real chak-chak can be found only here. This sweet dish is made with the nuts adding and chopped dried fruit adding, but much better to sample the dish which is cooked according the classic recipe. You can buy chack-chak in any Tatar store, but the best way to go for it to "Bahetle" ("Бахетле") – the supermarket which is specializing on traditional dishes. Their dishes are really taste like they were made at home.
Chak-Chak is sold by weight. It can be packed in simple packaging or in a gift packaging, also you can find it even in a shape of a cake.
But the dish “talkysh keleve” is almost unknown outside the republic. This type of dessert really good especially for children – it is prepared on the basis of honey and melted butter, looks like soft white pyramids which are somehow similar in taste to the cotton candy, but not such sweet.
Duck is another Tatar national product. You can take it with you! Smoked duck is packaged in a special wooden box with a signature - "Kuchtenech" - fairing.
If you want to purchase the horse meat sausages, called "kazylyk", you have to go to the central market where you should find the department called Halal (Халяль), here you can choose sausages of several varieties. Also, again you can find kazylyk in "Bahetle" supermarket. Smoked and cured meats are perfectly transportable even in a hot summer time.
Other tasty souvenirs from Kazan are liquid balms and tinctures which are based on local fruits and herbs. Two kinds of very good liquid balms are available here. They are called "Tatarstan" and "Bugulma" and taste very pleasant and smooth. Everything are made of natural raw organic materials (at least 24 kinds of berries, roots, flowers and herbs from ecologically clean areas are used in cooking such things). Such presents will be a nice addition to the other local gifts. Liquid balms are useful for the maintenance of the nervous system, moreover, they help when you catch a cold, or if you have any gastrointestinal diseases. They can be drunk by adding to the other drink, with water, or you can drink them without any adding. There are balm bottles of different sizes (starts with 0,2 l) on sale.
We hope you’ll enjoy your trip to Kazan and all these souvenirs will be memorable once! Have a nice vacation!