From what I can discern, the Kungrad (or Kungirat or Kohngirad, which are the most widely recognised English renderings of the name) are a somewhat amorphous nomadic/formerly nomadic group, strung out between the Khazaks and Mongols and sometimes identifying with these and other neighbouring tribes.
According to Wikipedia, "variations on the name include Onggirat, Ongirat, Qongrat, Kungrad, Qunghrãt, Wangjila (王紀剌), Yongjilie (雍吉烈), and Guangjila (廣吉剌) in Chinese sources and Ongrat or Kungrat in Turkish." You can decide which one you prefer. Today they live in Kazakhstan, Turkestan, Mongolia, China and Afghanistan and are generally identified as a Kazakh sub-tribe.
There was something extra about Kungirat ladies historically; Ghengis Khan's mother, great grandmother and principle wife, the empress Börte Üjin, were all of this tribe, as were many of the other wives and consorts that married into China's medieval dynasties. > This is Empress Radnashiri (d. 1322) a consort of the Yuan Dynasty in China. She knew her way around statement bling.
The textile you see here is a tent or yurt (or ger or jirga) band, which is a length of flat kilim wool woven on a narrow mobile loom. Some are strictly functional- more or less plain, used to secure the felt or goat hair walls that line traditional tents and pressed into service when it's time to move, strapping loads onto animals and vehicles. Others, like those below, are decorative and lavishly adorned with a variety of techniques including felting, appliqué, embroidery, brocade and pile panels, forming part of the ancient suite of formal heraldry common to every self-respecting Central Asian householder up to present times.
The colour red is perhaps the most fundamental and recognisable element of these nomads' aesthetic practice. Its ancient biological associations with blood and familial continuity meld with those of martial prowess and general good fortune, not to mention plain old visibility amid those often-monotonous landscapes. Back when wandering a wee bit too far in the wrong direction could get you an arrow in the throat, it was better to be able to recognise your neighbours from a distance rather than on close inspection.
Unsurprisingly, the stuff woven expressly for sale is often generic and crowd-pleasing (witness the mind-numbing stream of gul rugs churned out by Turkmen weavers for the Russian market even before 1900) but I think it's safe to say the woman behind this band wasn't too worried about what a rug dealer might think of it.
The rough plainweave base of madder-dyed wool is embroidered suzani-style with satin and chain stitch and jööjhed further with long-stemmed tassels.
BELOW The swastika-type symbol is incredibly ancient- paleolithic, in fact. The word itself is Sanskrit (svastika), denoting anything auspicious or likely to engender good fortune. This one is a little bit confused but I love that sort of thing.
I'd say this band is a fairly old thing since it's seen a lot of use and everything is hand spun, including the repairs and embellishments; let's call it first half of the 20th C. The battered condition is pretty typical from what I've seen. There are some pristine examples to be found, having been made and then put away as the family's circumstances changed; many nomad groups were forcibly settled under Collectivisation.
Let's have a look at the motifs. LEFT Front, with the reverse directly below. Everyone has different ideas about the origins of these symbols but I don't think we'll ever really know for sure so you might as well decide for yourself. Some of these ones are intact while others have been rubbed almost bare. You can see a later repair in the mauve-grey element above.
< Tree of Life? Or something totemic with abstract eagle-foot embellishment?
The white looks like cotton, but on closer inspection it turns out to be really fine silky mohair-like wool, at least to my eye. Everything else is the kind of hard, glossy, kempy wool that you find on rustic items, exhibiting the typically knobbly and uneven diameter of handspun thread.
The ram horn references are pretty explicit in some of these symbols; it's a popular theme and can be found in virtually every Central Asian item we've collected.
ABOVE AND LEFT Tassel details. Each one is wrapped in a bewildering array of colours which I imagine uses up any short ends left over after large projects are completed.
BELOW Kazakhs and velvet go together like tomato and sauce, so it's no surprise to find a scrap used to reinforce a bit of edge wear.