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is a not-for-profit and nongovernmental policy and research organization established in 2003 to conduct research, develop policy recommendations, and implement activities in the field of the rural development.

Rural Development Fund

is a not-for-profit and nongovernmental policy and research organization established in 2003 to conduct research, develop policy recommendations, and implement activities in the field of the rural development.

Rural Development Fund

is a not-for-profit and nongovernmental policy and research organization established in 2003 to conduct research, develop policy recommendations, and implement activities in the field of the rural development.

Rural Development Fund




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In Search of Traditional Knowledgee among Ethnic Kyrgyz in China

The history of the Kyrgyz people is original, unusual, exciting and full of interesting events and facts. Historical and social changes have had a strong influence on the fate of the Kyrgyz people. For many years, due to the influence of external and internal factors in Kyrgyzstan, the nomadic people moved a lot from place to place. In this way, there are large ethnic Kyrgyz groups living in China, Turkey, Afghanistan and other countries. However, no matter how far the Kyrgyz people moved from their native land, their native roots, traditions, and knowledge are not lost. In April 2010, the RDF researchers organized a scientific trip to China in order to study the life of the ethnic Kyrgyz there.


Main Purpose of the Trip

The missionaries of the trip aimed to gather information on traditional knowledge of local ethnic Kyrgyz and their nomadic lifestyles.


Visited Sites

The RDF experts visited villages in the Tekes and Kulja valleys, as well as in Kyzyl-Suu territorial district which is 2000 km from Urumchi in the South-West. It is interesting that the Kyrgyz people there have a special peculiarity -  the Kyrgyz living in the Tekes and Kulja valleys are engaged in animal breeding due to the favorable climate and availability of large pasture lands. Their lifestyle differs from the Kyrgyz who live in the Kyzyl-Suu district. The semi-desert landscape of Kyzyl-Suu caused the local people to engage in vegetable farming and very few people are involved in the breeding of camels and goats.


RDF experts visited the villages of Shaty, Kok-Terek, Mongol Kuro, Kulan Saraca, Kara Julgo, Manas, and Uluu-chat where they interviewed many local residents, and took photos of interesting moments, landscapes, and personalities. There were over 30 focus-groups and interviews organized, during which researchers interviewed more than 100 people. All meetings and discussions were interesting, entertaining, and even exciting because our respondents were well-known and outstanding people. One respondent, for instance, was Jusup Mamai a famous manaschy (narrator of Manas epic) and he made a great contribution to the development of folk tales and the trilogy of Manas epic.


During the visit to some villages, the RDF researchers became directly involved in the practical use of traditional elements. For example, in the village of Shaty, our researchers were able to witness the preparation process for the visit of a daughter's parents-in-law. The house masters prepared the ceremony carefully and thoroughly – women cooked traditional meals of Kyrgyz cuisine, keeping order of use and proportions of different ingredients while cooking. Olobo was one such dish that was cooked from sheep's lungs. The recipe for this interesting and, more importantly, delicious and nutritious  dish was immediately reported by our researchers and included into materials on Kyrgyz nomadic cuisine.


Research Openings and Discoveries

The researchers were pleasantly surprised by the efforts of the young Kyrgyz people who launched the workshop of national handicraft in Artush named Onorkana. One of the girls attending this workshop said that needlework helps her to develop good qualities such as patience and perseverance in work, wisdom, and creativeness and has a positive effect on her personality traits. In this workshop famous craftsmen and masters teach children how to embroider on textile, sew national clothes, make jewelry, horse equipment and Kyrgyz musical instruments. In addition, the products made at the workshop are sold at local fairs and bazaars.


 It was also amazing and unexpected to see that the names of all the villages where ethnic Kyrgyz have been living are in Kyrgyz. For example, the village where inhabitants are engaged in hunting with eagles is called Burkut Ayil whereas the village where Jusup Mamai was born is called Manas. It should be noticed that the ethnic Kyrgyz have not lost the ability to speak the Kyrgyz language. Moreover, they use ancient and even forgotten words and expression in their everyday live. This means that, even being far away from their historical homeland, these Kyrgyz people kept the very basic element of ethnic belonging – language and traditions.


No doubt, keepers of traditional knowledge were the most interesting respondents among those whom our researchers met during the trip. As a rule, they were people from older generations, who practiced and carefully stored traditional knowledge and shared it with other people. The RDF researchers have collected invaluable materials on how people of the past treated livestock, practiced rational and sustainable methods of use of pasture lands and bred and trained racehorses. We have gathered information on the secrets of nomadic life and culture, ancient Kyrgyz customs and traditions, even games at jailoo.


Field Research Results

There were a lot of materials on rites, techniques, methods and skills of nomadic life gathered during the trip to the neighboring country. In some places we were able to find differences from data that was already obtained in Kyrgyzstan; in other places we confirmed our assumptions or discovered completely new materials and facts. It should be noted that some methods of animal treatment, selection of settlement places, rites and rituals, even recipes of soap producing and games at jailoo were completed after meeting with the ethnic Kyrgyz in China.

We are thankful to our friends in China who supported us in organizing meetings and conducting interviews in field work. All the dwellers of the villages that we visited were kind and friendly and welcomed us with hospitality, offering food and lodging with respect and politeness. We are confident in saying that our trip was successful and effectively productive. We have collected valuable materials which are being analyzed and processed at present, and will be published shortly.


Rural Development Fund

Geologicheskiy str., Office 1

Bishkek, 720005, Kyrgyz Republic

Phone: +996 (312)590828 

Mob. phone: +996 (770)330106 

Email: general@rdf.in.kg

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