Traditions of Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country in the world, with a welcome just as wide. At over a million square miles, this country has it all! Mountains and glaciers, vast steppes and desert and over a hundred and twenty nationalities! Stunning landscapes and ancient architecture conjure images of nomads and warriors, falconry and poetry, silk-robed horsemen and exotic beauty. The word вЂњKazakhвЂќ itself translates to вЂњfree, independent nomad.вЂќ
The Kazakh people have a long tradition of peace, tolerance and co-existence. Children learn hospitality and respect from a very young age, and this is reflected in the wonderful hospitality offered to all guests and travelers. If you visit a Kazakh household - whether or not you are expected - those present will stand up in greeting as you enter the door. You will be seated on the tor - the special guest seat and offered a cup of either kumiss or tea. It is considered extremely poor manners to disturb the weary or hungry guest, so the host often remains silent until you are refreshed!
Kazakhstan Customs and Traditions
KazakhstanвЂ™s territory is immense, occupying an area about half the size of the United States. Most of the vast expanses are steppe; semi-arid land, desolate and frozen in the winter that turn to lush, green meadow beginning mid-spring. The steppes are invaluable pastureland for the sheep, horses, cattle, and camels that are essential to the Kazakh people.
The ancestors of modern-day Kazakhs were nomadic or semi-nomadic, and many of their customs reflect that lifestyle. Nowadays, people live mostly in cities and villages, although many still lead an agricultural life.
Not surprisingly, horses play a large part in their traditions. It is said that in the past, many Kazakh children learned to ride before they learned to walk, and the Kazakhs are still known for their superb horsemanship. They were the first to use stirrups, and perfected the technique of shooting arrows with superb accuracy while riding at a gallop. No traveler should miss an opportunity to watch such displays of riding skill.
As a result of their nomadic lifestyle, the Kazakhs developed one of the most efficient and practical transportable dwellings - the yurt, which has many uses today. As you travel through Kazakhstan, you will see different types of these low, cylindrical felt and wood houses, still in use and beautifully decorated with tapestries, and multicolored embroidery. Overnight excursions to yurt camps are extremely popular with travelers.