Telpek is an indivisible part of Turkmen dress culture and has never lost its fame as a traditional headwear worn by Turkmen men. Considered as a part of culture not only inside the country, but also abroad, Turkmen telpek is used by today’s young adults in various celebrations.
Telpek provides protection from extreme heat, rain, snow and wind. These environmental conditions have no effect on the headwear. Telpek maintains the comfortable temperature of the head. The leather masters who stich telpek using handwork successfully retain the tradition of ancestors. In different parts of Turkmenistan there are families specialized in telpek stitching. Telpek stitching is so sophisticated that there is enough work for the whole family.
The main factor that affects the quality of the telpek is the health of the sheep. Because, the sheep that is healthy and without any dermatological problems gives good quality sheepskin that is easy to tan. In the making of telpek, the tanning of skin is of crucial importance. First, the skin is spread and added salt. Then it is folded in square and rolled inside. After kept that way for days, it gains the necessary shape and strengthens. Telpek masters split the layers of skin, wash it and let it dry on shade. Dried skin is then softened and spread with sour yoghurt or milk. It is kept that way for two weeks. After making sure that the skin is tanned well, telpek masters wash it for the last time and scrape it with smooth rook. Afterwards, the leather is ready to be stitched into telpek.
The masters use a wool comb, a big needle, two rolls of white and black thread and a thimble to stich telpek. When the necessary materials are obtained, the stitching begins.
The age and social status of the person, as well as the age of history, affect the type and color of telpeks that is worn. While the children wear white telpek made from sheep leather, the teenagers prefer the wear telpeks from ewe lamb leather. The middle age men wear grey or black telpek with not so long wools. The white bearded old men wear blackish brown or black shaggy telpek.
Scientists also found the horseman wearing sheepskin telpeks engraved on Orhan-Yenisey inscriptions.