Kyrgyz Culture


The Kyrgyz are known as nomads coming from Siberia and then moved to the south until they reached the territory of today Kyrgyzstan. Their main occupation was cattle breeding and lifestock; in particular they kept 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 can be proved 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."

Almost all of traditional horse-back riding games are often shown in festivals or shows, where the moves are mostly derived from every-day situations of earlier generations. And the perfection of the Kyrgyz in the saddle is astonishing.

Children begin to ride a horse 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 to learn how to sew, knit and weave being very young. Their beautiful carpets made within months or even years are very valuable and well-known. The most popular carpets are Shyrdak and Ala-Kiyiz, which are both made from sheep's wool and decorated with beautiful national patterns, derived from the nature.

Very important though, those carpets are not the most popular products of Kyrgyz felt. The symbol of the Kyrgyz life and household is the Yurt. The dwelling prepared of felt 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 traditional meals, and also families in big towns still put up the yurt on the most important holidays. 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 centre symbolically shows 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, mobile 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 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 is also 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 beautiful cloth, forming the back part of the yurt for the most respected guest.

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