The kyzyl marzhan (coral), one of the most popular sea stones (an element of foreign culture), was reinterpreted by the Turkic/Kazakh culture in its own way and filled with sacred meanings. Coral has been a valuable commodity since ancient times: it has a colour range from pale pink to dark red.
Among Turks, red coral occupies a special place, because thanks to its colour it has been used for centuries to decorate cult objects, to create ornaments on embroidered carpets and to make various pieces of jewellery.
The main role is played by the colour of the stone – a rich, orange-red, which in folk mythology is associated with life, sun, fire, youth and fertility. The colour was decisive for the use of the stone in girls’ and women’s jewellery, in the decoration of headdresses (kimeshek) and children’s hats.
Productive properties were attributed to this stone by many peoples: Coral necklaces were often worn by Khorezmian women to obtain the affection of their husbands, and the Khakasses believed that the goddess Umay wore coral beads that enclosed the soul embryos of girls, etc.
In Muslim countries, coral was used to make rosaries, and in many other ethnic traditions, coral jewellery was believed to protect against the evil eye and evil spells and to be endowed with healing properties.
Rows of coral beads can be seen on some designs of Kazakh “saukele”. The wedding dress of the Karakalpaks is also studded with these stones. The frequent use of coral in wedding attributes confirms its importance as a bearer of fertility, i.e. the pearls were associated with numerous offspring. If the Kazakhs saw coral or pearls in their dreams, it meant abundance.