Kyrgyzstan is a country in Central Asia, surrounded by towering, ice-covered peaks and is bordered by Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and China.

Mountains cover nearly 90 per cent of the country. Kyrgyzstan boasts the highest point of the Tian Shan Mountain range, which is 24, 406 feet (7,439m) above sea level.

Forests cover about four per cent of the landmass of the country. By virtue of this, Kyrgyzstan has one of the planet’s largest natural-growth walnut forests in the world.

Kyrgyzstan’s recorded history spans over 2,000 years, encompassing a variety of cultures and empires.

Although geographically isolated by its highly mountainous terrain, which has helped preserve its ancient culture, Kyrgyzstan has been at the crossroads of several great civilizations as part of the Silk Road and other commercial and cultural routes.

Though long inhabited by a succession of independent tribes and clans, Kyrgyzstan has periodically fallen under foreign domination and attained sovereignty as a nation-state only after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Traditions and Culture

Hospitality and respect are well-known traits of the Kyrgyz people. In Kyrgyzstan it is proper to use the polite form of “you” when addressing someone older and to offer him or her your seat on public transport, as well as the most honourable seat at the table.

Families commonly have three or more children. The youngest son usually stays with his parents, even after marriage, and looks after them throughout their old age.

From a young age, girls are taught the practical skills needed to be good housewives. By the mid-teens they are fully capable of running a household.

A dowry is usually prepared for the bride. This may consist of bedding of all sorts, a variety of clothing, and a handmade carpet. The groom pays a bride price in money and livestock.

During celebrations and funerals, a sheep or a horse is slaughtered. It is divided into parts, and every part is specially designated for a specific person.

Depending upon the age and position of the guests, each one is given his or her portion; again respect is the key element guiding this tradition. Then the national dish, beshbarmak, is served. It is eaten with the hands.

Also, komuz – a popular musical instrument, may be played depending on the gathering. Koumiss is usually served. It is a bubbly drink made from fermented mare’s milk. They also recite Manas, an epic poem recited along with the playing of Komuz.

They also have Tush kyiz; large, elaborately embroidered wall hangings and Shirdak; flat cushions made in shadow-pairs and other textiles, especially made from felt.

Horse riding

The traditional national sports reflect the importance of horse riding in Kyrgyz culture.

Very popular, as in all of Central Asia, is Ulak Tartysh, a team game resembling a cross between polo and rugby in which two teams of riders wrestle for possession of the headless carcass of a goat, which they attempt to deliver across the opposition’s goal line, or into the opposition’s goal: a big tub or a circle marked on the ground.

Other popular games on horseback include: At Chabysh – a long-distance horse race, sometimes over a distance of more than 50 km. Jumby Atmai – a large bar of precious metal (the “jumby”) is tied to a pole by a thread and contestants attempt to break the thread by shooting at it, while at a gallop. Kyz Kuumai – a man chases a girl in order to win a kiss from her, while she gallops away; if he is not successful she may in turn chase him and attempt to beat him with her “kamchi” (horsewhip). Oodarysh – two contestants wrestle on horseback, each attempting to be the first to throw the other from his horse. Tyin Emmei – picking up a coin from the ground at full gallop. Another is falconry, of which they use eagle to hunt and other sorts of activities.

Tash Rabat Valley

The unique monument of the Middle Ages the caravanserai Tash Rabat is located in the valley of Kara-Koyun, 90 km from the town of Naryn and 60 km from the village of At-Bashi.

The building was constructed of stone and lime, and all the material was assembled nearby in the valley. There are several theories and legends about the origin of the architectural complex Tash-Rabat, but most likely it was built in the 15th century and served as a coaching inn for merchants. Along the nearby trade route caravans went from Chuy and Fergana valleys to Kashgar.

The height of Tash-Rabat building is of more than 20m, and the inside is a labyrinth connecting 31 rooms. On the background of green meadows of the valley the caravanserai looks like a powerful and unapproachable fortress.

There are yurts – a tentlike dwellings, constructed for your stay.

Excerpt: wikipedia, jw.org

Author: Taofeek Ayeyemi