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Kyrgyz Culture

The Kyrgyz people have a long history of 2200 years and were always known as nomads living in Siberia who came down to Central Asia and forming a new country. Their main occupation was cattle breeding and livestock; especially they raised sheep and horses. Cows and goats were also a good deal of their everyday sustenance, as well as donkeys for the smallest members of the family to ride them.  And of course horse-back riding made the most important part of Kyrgyz culture, which can be supported by a popular Kyrgyz saying: "If you have only one day to live, half of it you have to spend in the saddle."

You can also see the traditional horse-back riding games in festivals or shows organized each year mainly in summer time. You can find it astonishing to see the nomads' skillfulness on riding a horse that they acquired through experience.

Kids learn to ride a horse in their early childhood almost when they learn how to walk, and soon the boys will help adults to look after the sheep.

Girls begin obtaining handicraft skills from their mothers and grandmothers; 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 not only among locals but also for foreign tourists. The most popular carpets are called Shyrdak and Ala-Kiyiz, both made from sheep's wool and ornamented with beautiful national patterns coming out naturally by the hands of master-women.

However, these carpets are not the most popular products made by Kyrgyz women. The symbol of the Kyrgyz domestic life is the Yurt, in Kyrgyz known as "Boz Ui". This felt nomadic dwelling is found everywhere in summer pastures high in the mountains. Even nowadays it is still considered to be part of every-day life of Kyrgyzstani, even in cities: you can see street-cafes everywhere, serving national food, and also families in big towns still put up the yurt during different important events. For instance, the births of a child, a wedding or even burial ceremonies are the events, where yurt is required. And the most ominously illustrated importance of the yurt is depicted as the main symbol featuring on the flag of our country. It is red and in the center symbolically illustrates the Tyunduk - up-crown of the yurt. It has a shape of a circle made of wood crossed with few sticks.

The yurt is a multifunctional, portable nomadic dwelling constructed of a wooden framework and several layers of felt. The whole structure is fixed with short leather-ribbons (replacing the nails) and ropes made of animals' skin. Inside part of the yurt is neatly 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 bed spread at nighttime on the floor for making a soft and warm place for a stay, but during daytime they are kept fastened and covered with a beautiful blanket in the middle part of the yurt.

In the center of yurt, there takes place a little stove used for cooking and heating the yurt. They needed it even in the summer time, particularly when the weather is bad which quite a regular occasion is in high mountainous areas. Left side to the entrance belongs to man to keep his weapon, harness, utilities for hunting, fishing, and other stuff. The woman's part is on the right of the entrance where they put the kitchen utilities, and everything needed for handicraft.

Useful information for the traveling can be found here:

Lenin Peak
Hiking in Ala Archa gorge
Konorchek canyons
Horse riding in Chon Kemin gorge
Boat cruise in Issyk Kul lake