The culture of the Kyrgyz people has many similarities with the culture of the Kazakh, since they descended from the same ancestors, nomadic Turkish tribes from the Altai region. The Kyrgyz themselves believe they descend from the forty daughters of the Khan and the red dog. These daughters represented forty tribes in Kyrgyzstan. Kirk-kiz means forty girls.
Immediately after arrival at the Kyrgyz, Chief Eduard noticed how hospitable and welcoming the Kyrgyz people were. They invited him into their yurts, their houses, and they introduced him to their family members. He heard the traditional stories of the Kyrgyz, for example their story of origin. Kirk-kiz means forty girls, and the Kyzrgyz believe they descend from the forty daughters of the Khan and the red dog, who all represented a tribe in Kyrgyzstan.
The life of the Kyrgyz people evolves around their horses, cattle, agriculture and hunting. The diet of the nomads mainly consists of mutton and noodles. Fruits and vegetables are rare, even in today’s cuisine. The most traditional dish is beshbarmak, a stew of mutton and lamb roast. For ceremonial meals, a sheep will be slaughtered without taking blood, and the head will be served to the guest of honour. The most honoured guest will cut bits and parts from the sheep head and will offer the food to the other guests at the table. And so did Chief Eduard Schaepman!
Equestrian games are very popular among the Krygyz during special events. Such as national festivities, weddings and mourning. Ulak tartysh, or Kok boru is a common game. The game has its origins in ancient times, when herds of cows grazed in the steppes and mountains where they were exposed to the treat of wolves. Shepherds chased the wolves on horsebacks and struck them with sticks. When the wolf was caught, the shepherds tried to ‘steal’ the carcass of each other for fun. Kok boru was later replaced by Ulak tartysh, played with the carcass of a goat in a field of approximately 200 metres by 150 metres. Just like soccer, there are two goals in front of each other on the pitch. Nowadays, the goals are formed by mud and tires. The carcass of a goat, usually with a weight of 30 to 40 kilograms, is placed in the middle of the field. Each game lasts fifteen minutes. The goal is to grab the goat, while sitting on a horse and placing it into the opponent’s goal.
The Kyrgyz work hard but are also font of games, and they do everything together. They know you sometimes need to pass the ball to each other in order to win the game, something they do all the time. Not only when they play Kok-Boru, but also when they are joining forces to complete everyday tasks. As business nomad it’s also easier to create successful projects when you’re with more people, who you sometimes also need to pass the bal.