The Kyrgyz people have a long history of 220 years and always have been 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 had 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 is 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 should spend in the saddle."
You can also see the traditional horse-back riding games in festivals or shows held each year mainly in summer time. You can find it astonishing to see the nomads' skillfulness on riding a horse which they acquired through experience.
Children learn to ride a horse very early when they learn how to walk, and soon the boys will help adults to look after the sheep.
Girls begin acquiring 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 guests. 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 master-women.
However, these carpets are not the most popular products produced by the 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 the pastures. Even in modern life of Kyrgyzstani it is still considered to be part of every-day life, 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 example, 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 the country. It is red and in the center symbolically illustrates the Tyunduk - up-crown of the yurt's roof. It has a shape of a circle made of wood crossed with few sticks.
The yurt is a multifunctional, portable nomadic dwelling made 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 attractively 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 an overnight stay, but during daytime they are kept fastened and covered with a beautifully decorated blanket in the middle part of the yurt.
Traditions and Customs