Kyrgyz Culture


The Kyrgyz people are known as nomads coming from Siberia and moving towards the south until they reached the territory of today Kyrgyzstan. Their main occupation was cattle breeding and livestock; in particular they had sheep and horses. Cows and goats were also raised, as well as donkeys for the smallest of the family to ride them.  And of course horse-back riding is the most important part of Kyrgyz culture, which is supported by a very famous Kyrgyz saying: "If you would have only one day to live, you should spend at least half of it in the saddle."

One can enjoy the traditional horse-back riding games in festivals or shows. You can find it astonishing to observe the nomads skillfulness on riding a horse which they acquired through living experience.

Children begin to ride a horse very early almost as soon as they learn how to walk, and soon the boys will help adults in caring for the sheep.

On the other hand, girls begin acquiring handicraft skills for example they learn how to sew, knit and weave. Their beautiful carpets made within months or even years are very valuable and very popular. The most popular carpets are Shyrdak and Ala-Kiyiz, which are both made from sheep's wool and decorated with beautiful national patterns coming out naturally.

Very important though, those carpets are not the most popular products produced by the Kyrgyz. The symbol of the Kyrgyz life and household is the Yurt. This felt nomadic dwelling is found everywhere in the pastures. Even in modern Kyrgyzstan it is still considered to be part of every-day life, even in cities: you find street-cafes everywhere, serving national food, and also families in big towns still put up the yurt during different important events. For example, the births of a child, a marriage or burial ceremonies are the events, where yurt is a required thing. And the most significantly illustrated importance of the yurt is depicted as the main symbol featuring on the flag of the country. It is red and in the center symbolically illustartes the Tyunduk - the central part of the yurts roof. Typically it is a circle made of wood and crossed with few sticks.

The yurt is a multifunctional, portable dwelling made of a wooden frame and the felt covers. The whole structure is fixed with short leather-ribbons (instead of nails) and ropes made of animals' skin. Inside part of the yurt is beautifully decorated; there are carpets on the walls and on the floor, and the "Djuk" at the end of the yurt, opposite to the entrance. It serves as the bed sheets that are spread at nighttime on the floor and can offer a soft and warm place for overnight stay, but during daytime they are kept fastened and covered with a beautifully decorated blanket, forming the back part of the yurt for the most respected guest.

In the center of yurt, there is a little stove used for cooking and warming the room. It is absolutely compulsory even in summer time, particularly when the weather is bad which quite a frequent occasion is in high mountainous areas. Left side to the entrance belongs to man to keep his weapon, utilities for hunting, fishing, horse-back riding and other equipment. The woman's part is on the right of the entrance which is the kitchen utilities, and everything needed for handicraft.