AS A WAY OF LIFE

nomads, writer, speaker, photographer

KIRGHIZSTAN

Nomadic Traditions and Kirghize Landscapes

As soon as we entered Kirghizstan, two aspects seemed to illuminate the land. The first was the local traditions that have been perpetuated since centuries; the second was the wild landscapes that spread out endlessly.

The white yurts created a new universe in these infinite green steppes, where so many edelweiss flowers blossomed. During the summer, they became the tangible link between the population and their nomadic roots. The herds of horses galloped in these gigantic spaces. The eagles played with the wind, showing their acrobatics abilities with elegance and grace. The acmes of the Pamir were still present and they dominated the world from their 7’000m. A world that tasted a spice of freedom, and where the fresh snow created a white sparkle that illuminated the mountains and gave a pure energy in this alchemy. The natural rivers were filled with tremendous water and they followed, with multiple curves, their own paths on the land. The crystal clear water reflected the deep blue of the sky and the small leaf that felt on it, played in this universe, letting the flow carrying it.

As we cycled on a dirt road that opened out new panoramas, a blue luminosity enlightened the scenery, a luminosity that would become a symbol of these mountainous land. The jailoo spread out under abrupt slopes where most of the summits were still white from the snow. The visibility was so clear that we could distinguish the purple dot of the flowers that bloomed in these meadows. Further, arid mounts formed of golden and red soil contrasted with a small valley where the dark green firs grew. And the smell of its needles perfumed the air with a delicate flavour that enlightened us.

One after the other, we crossed passes to reach the astounding Song Kol lake, which spread in the middle of a vast steppe, smooth like a mirror, reflecting a couple of white cumulus that were gently growing. Over there, storms were violent and powerful thunders and lightenings were echoing on the land. Back clouds created moving waves of rain filtering the red lights of the sunset.

We entered the noble silence of heights in the glaciers over the National Park of Karakol. There, we could only hear the wind whistling. A powerful place made of ice and rocks that took us in a land of innocence and strength.

The alpine lakes spread out in large valleys surrounded by geological formations that reached the height of perpetual snow. Their size changed but the gigantic dimensions of Issykol Lake showed us its grandeur as the second largest attitude lake on the planet. It was extremely deep and the salinity of the water and the thermal activity prevented it from freezing. But the most impressive aspects of these lakes were the never-ending changes in colours and textures that created a breath taking show, soothing our spirit.

In this powerful scenery, the Kirghiz lifestyle took place. The yurts, boozi, appeared in these green meadows. The sun reflected the whiteness of their Ulducks and Tuldrucks, large pieces of felt, creating a warm and waterproof environment. They were placed over flexible wooden sticks, the kereges and the tchi. The Tyndynk, symbol of the Kirgiz flag, is a wheel that supported the roof, while leaving a central opening letting the light penetrating this universe of mutton smell. The colourful shyrdaks, felt carpet, created a warm-hearted atmosphere inside.

On the right side of the bosoro, the entry, we could find the women part of the yurt, with the kitchen, on the left side, it was the men area where all the materials for the horses and herds where kept.

A small wooden fire, otshok, brought warmth to the home and the smell of boiled meat. That food as well as bread and boursuk, fried bread, are the main dishes. The cows, goats and sheep gave their milk for the cream and Kurut, small blows of dried yogurt. And the Koumiz, fermented milk, was made with the horses’ milk that are milked up to five times of day. Outside, the tea was prepared in a teapot that look like a trophy, and where a small fire was lightened in order to boil the water.