The Kyrgyz of Kyrgyzstan
Although they are related to the Kazak and other Turkic peoples of the region, the Kyrgyz look very much like the Mongols. In fact, they are the people who most clearly resemble Genghis Khan. More than any other Central Asian people, the Kyrgyz have clung to their traditional way of life as nomadic cattle breeders. They have also maintained their tribal organization.
Today, the Kyrgyz inhabit one of the highest plateaus of the world. During the sixth century, their ancestors lived in the upper Yenisei River region. Although they broke free in the seventh century, the Uighurs later established dominance in the area.
Kyrgyzstan is home to more than eighty different ethnic groups. During its 72 years under communist rule, the Kyrgyz population grew to four times its original size. Hundreds of towns and villages were built as many abandoned their traditional nomadic lifestyles. Nevertheless, about 80% of the population is still rural.
What are their lives like?
Since the land is generally unsuitable for farming, many of the rural Kyrgyz live as nomadic cattle breeders, following their herds from pasture to pasture. They depend entirely on their animals for survival. Fortunately, they have particularly hardy and adaptable breeds of sheep, goats, yaks, horses, and camels. The animals are used for both food and exchange. They also provide the only means of transportation in the region.
The nomads travel as extended family units and live in portable felt tents, or yurts. The summers are short on the plateau, and there are only about 60 days in which the ground is not covered in snow. During this season, the families tend to camp close together. However, during the winter months, families live scattered away from each other so that they might best utilize the scarce grassland.
The Kyrgyz women enjoy more freedoms than do most other Central Asian women. For example, they are not required to wear veils; they are allowed to talk to men; and they may freely ride about on the grasslands. Although they work hard, their position in the household is considered important and respected.
The men devote themselves almost entirely to caring for the animals. They dress in baggy leather pants and coarse shirts. Outer coats made of cotton or wool are also worn. Embroidered felt skull caps are common; however, on important occasions, the wealthier men may wear tall steeple-crowned hats made of felt or velvet and embroidered with gold. Their favorite gear includes their belts, saddles, and bridles, which are sometimes covered with gold and precious stones. While the women dress in the same style clothing as the men, their shirts are usually longer and go all the way down to their heels.
Music and story telling are important parts of the Kyrgyz culture. Verbal folklore has been very well developed over the years. Folk tales are often sung, accompanied by a three-stringed guitar called a dombra.
Among the men, hunting with the use of a golden eagle is very popular, and a well-trained eagle is quite valuable.
What are their beliefs?
The Kyrgyz were first introduced to
Islam during the seventeenth century. Within two hundred years, they had been completely converted to Islam. Today, most Kyrgyz still consider themselves to be Muslim; however, some shamanistic practices still exist. (Shamanism is the belief that there is an unseen world of many gods, demons, and ancestral spirits.) The people depend on shamans (priests or priestesses) to cure the sick by magic, communicate with the gods, and control events.
What are their needs?
Kyrgyzstan is currently in the throes of an economic crisis. This has led to a sharp drop in production, creating shortages of almost all consumer goods.
The harsh nomadic lifestyle of the Kyrgyz has made them very hard to reach with the Gospel. Today, there are only about 500 known Kyrgyz believers in Kyrgyzstan, even though six missions agencies are currently working among them.
- Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into Kyrgyzstan.
- Pray that God will raise up prayer teams to go and break up the soil through worship and intercession.
- Ask God to grant favor and wisdom to the missions agencies that are targeting the Kyrgyz.
- Pray for effectiveness of the Jesus film among the Kyrgyz.
- Ask God to anoint the Gospel as it goes forth via radio to the Kyrgyz.
- Pray that God will reveal Himself to these precious people through dreams and visions.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to soften their hearts towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
- Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Kyrgyz by the year 2000.
See also the following Kyrgyz groups:
The Kyrgyz of ;
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Kyrgyz
- Country: Kyrgyzstan
- Their language: Kyrgyz
- Largest religion:
- Christians: <1%
- Church members: 497
- Scriptures in their own language: New Testament
- Jesus Film in their own language: Available
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: Available
- Mission agencies working among this people: 6
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 895,800 (36%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 1,591,200 (64%)
- Country: Kyrgyzstan
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 17
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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