As I mentioned before, there is an incredible amount of similarities between the huge United States and tiny Kyrgyzstan. Except for the rock arts from the last topic, America has the analogue of famous Kyrgyz game “Ulak Tartysh”, which is actually more famous around the world. It definitely is “polo”.
Polo is also the team sport, which is played on horseback. The rules of the game are almost similar with Kyrgyz “polo”, except for the “tool”. If Kyrgyz people fight for the dead goat, polo players use a long-handled mallet and wooden or plastic ball, in order to score a goal into opposite teams doors.
The game is played in more than 15 countries nowadays. There are many types of it actually, and the rules also may vary according to the region, where it is played.
Going so into Kyrgyzstan, I almost forgot to add some contrasts between the U.S. and Kyrgyzstan. So, here is one for our previous topic about ancient rock arts!
Although North America is known as pretty new government, the land itself existed for thousands of years for sure. As a proof, they found interesting rock arts in the state of Nevada. The petroglyphs are said to be more than 15,000 years old.
The stones have very interesting look, including geometric patterns, diamond shapes, and concentric circles – all in one!
Archeologists were not able to get as much information as preferred about those ancient “artists” yet, so this is a new door for them to find out more about the first habitants of this continent.
You will be surprised how Kyrgyz nation can be cheerful and fun-loving after getting to know the following traditional game – Kyz Kumay (“chasing the girl” from kyrgyz)! I will make the introduction short and just step in to the game rules:
We need the volunteer of one boy and a girl, who is good at riding horses, because the biggest part of the game is demonstrating the horseback riding skills. Yes, you guessed right, the competition will be among the boy and a girl, even if it sounds a bit unfair. However, there were pretty many cases when the boys lost the game!
So, both of players are on the finish line and after the signal, the girl takes off first (see, advantage for girls anyways!). Boy’s goal is to reach the girl before the finish line, in order to get a kiss as a reward. However, if he ends up losing, then he had better prepare himself for the hard beats the girl has prepared for him!
I guess I found out the reason why there are so many djigits, that have the wind beneath their wings in Kyrgyzstan. They were given the special spirit from the very childhood. You wonder how? The following tradition can explain it pretty well.
So, when the child reaches the age of walking, the parents gather all the relatives, friends and neighbors to the house for a big party. After the nice lunch, they come outdoors and start a pretty interesting show:
They tie the child’s legs with rope and several kids start racing towards the kid from far away. Whoever reaches first gets a chance of cutting the rope from child’s legs. They hope that the child will also grow as fast as that winner boy. This is the spirit and great blessings for the future of the child!
If you look closer to Kyrgyz culture, you can find that they know how to enjoy life. The way they spend spare time, vacations or holidays is so active and a lot of fun. The main reason is that they love playing games, not simple ones, but the ones with horses!
Since Kyrgyz nation had long lived the nomadic lifestyle, there occurred an inseparable bond between the them and their horses. horses not only provided daily transportation in the mountains, but their meat and milk is often consumed as a part of Kyrgyz cuisine. As a result, almost every Kyrgyz nomad was an incredibly skilled horseman and often competed against others in a variety of games in order to show off their skills.
One of the most famous games played on horse is called “Ulak Tartysh”. Here is the short history of the game:
Long before firearms reached these places, Kyrgyz nomads had to protect their livestock from various predators, especially the wolves. In order to scare them, skilled riders would actually run down the wolves and beat them with whips or sticks with the riders fighting for a chance at the wolf. This became the basis for the game called “kok boru,” or “grey wolf.” Nowadays the game is called Ulak Tartysh and is the most popular horse game in Kyrgyzstan.
To play Ulak Tartysh, two teams gather on a field of about 300 m X 150 m for 15 minutes of intense competition. A dead, headless goat is placed in the middle of the field and the two teams race on horseback to pick up the goat and deposit it into the opposing team’s goal. Naturally, everyone’s fighting for it, so the game can get pretty rough, bloody even. However, to the victor go the spoils: a very tender goat that can be cooked up as a celebratory meal.
These ancient lands are so rich with memories from the past that gives a real success and joy to the ones, who are truly interested in them. Some of them are hidden somewhere hard to reach like pearls deep in the sea; some are right in front of our eyes. We are now traveling to another museum under the sky and it belongs to the second type of historical treasures.
Not far from the capital city Bishkek, there is a town called Tokmok. This small and pretty simple town has incredibly great past and rich history. This is the very place that once was the capital city of ancient Karakhanid empire at the end of 9th century. The ruins of the city was found in our days on that territory. According to incredibly beautiful tower Burana, the only tower that remained almost as a whole, culture and art was pretty developed at those places.
Right near the tower there is something even more intriguing: so many stone sculptures and scripts engraved on stones on the wide field! It is still not that clear what the purpose was and who actually created them, but we know for sure that they are precious gifts for us from the past…
Have you ever dreamed about going up to highlands and discover a new new world, just like in fairy tales? I did! And there is a chance to make this come true…
In Kyrgyz “Saimaluu-Tash” means “patterned or embroidered stone”. This is the name of the place and it is situated in a narrow canyon on Fergansky range, in the region of Kugart pass. Crossing this pass from the agricultural Fergana Valley, you will find yourself in the valleys of the Inner Tien Shan. In the region, at an altitude of 3,000 – 3,200m, is the largest concentration of petroglyphs in Central Asia!
The paintings on rock have survived on stones and rocks at many sites throughout the globe. Unique monuments of our ancestors which have come from the ages, they signal the beginning of the history of fine art. Although people have been studying petroglyphs for 200 years, some of them still remain a mystery to us. Saimaluu-Tash is the largest gallery of petroglyphs in Central Asia and consists of about 90 thousand individual specimens.
Multi-image compositions depict scenes of hunting, domestication of wild animals, migrating along mountain paths, ritual dances of masked people, sun and moon shaped men driving on harnessed chariots and carriages, etc. Authors with high academic credentials regard Saimaluu-Tash as monument of culture of universal importance.
Among the great amount of treasures, Kyrgyzstan is very famous for its beautiful lakes. Among them is the special one that stands out the most and it is Issyk-Kul (literally “The Warm Lake”). The lake is never frozen even in winter and this is the reason why it got this interesting name.
Issyk-Kul is the second biggest alpine lake in the world after Titikaka lake in Peru (with 1600 meters above sea level). Transparency of water is pretty amazing – 20 meters. With 700 meters of depth, the lake includes about 50 types of sea animals.
Nowadays, the lake is surrounded with different resorts and is one of the most visited touristic spots of the country. They say that the lake’s water is very useful for health. So, some visit it for annual therapies and others come with family and friends to truly enjoy their holidays.
Among amazing sides, with which Kyrgyzstan stands out, is the fact that the biggest walnut forest on Earth belongs to this country! The forest is a real treasure of not only our country, but also the whole Asia. The trees that have been existing for thousands of years are still rich with fruit and adds pretty much effort to the economy of the region as well. So, what is that lucky area which includes this unique forest? Dear friends, please meet – Arslanbob!
Situated in the southern part of the country, Arslanbob is rich with not only walnut trees, but also regular visitors for its beautiful and peaceful nature. The forests are spread on the mountains and this is the reason for its perfect atmosphere. Couple of gracious waterfalls add even more sparkles to the beauty of Arslanbob. So, it is definitely worth adding to your “must see places” list!
To my country-mate, who sees nothing good in his or her homeland and prefers leaving abroad without looking back:
Dear, did you have any idea that there are tons of treasures you can be proud of about your country? What if I tell you that Kyrgyzstan is greater even than the U.S.?! In what way? Well, literally! It’s Peak Pobeda (Victory) is much higher than the highest peak in Rocky Mountains in Colorado! For you to compare: 7,439 metres (24,406 ft) vs.4,401 metres (14,440 ft).
And now I invite my foreign friends to take a look at our celestial mountains and enjoy the view!