The word “irek” means “crooked, twisted” in the Kazakh language. A popular motif in world culture, the basic element of many ornamental systems. The zigzag symbolises water, waves, constant movement, thunder or rain. In Latvian mythology, for example, the zigzag is defined as a symbol of earthly and heavenly water, and thus of the female deity Mara. One of the earliest archaeological evidence of the pattern comes from the Neolithic period.

In Kazakh culture, it is usually used in frame compositions and most likely symbolises the metaphorical periodicity of some life processes, eternal recurrence, constancy of variability and rhythmicity.