The Kyrgyz of Kazakstan
The Kyrgyz live in the eastern portion of Kazakstan, wedged between three of the most spectacular, yet inaccessible mountain ranges on earth: the Himalayas, the Hindu Kush, and the Tein Shan. During the sixth century, their ancestors (the Xiajias) lived in the upper Yenisei River region, under the domination of Turk Khanate. Although they broke free in the seventh century, the Uighurs later established dominance in the area.
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.
What are their lives like?
The Kyrgyz nomads travel in extended family units. They live in portable felt tents called 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. They also make a wide variety of musical instruments. Verbal folklore has been very well developed over the years. Folk tales are often sung, accompanied by a three-stringed guitar called a dombra.
What are their beliefs?
Today, only 45% of the Kyrgyz in Kazakstan claim to be Muslim; but even they are not orthodox in their beliefs. Some shamanistic practices still exist among them. (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
The Kyrgyz of ; China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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