At all times the main occupation of Kyrgyz people was cattle breeding. They bred mostly sheep, horses, yaks and camels. To provide cattle with grazing they had to roam from one place to another. In summer nomads ascend to alpine summer pastures “jailoo”. When winter came went down into the valley, on the winter pastures “kyshtoo”.
Roaming to jailoo has always been a significant holiday for Kyrgyz people. They put on festive, fine clothing and led caravans to a new place. Camels and horses were covered with beautiful colored carpets with bright patterns. The most beautiful girl in expensive jewelry rode in front of the caravan. If the caravan route lay through any settlement, its residents greeted the nomads with great hospitality, offered some refreshments to them and wished a happy journey. The family that roamed into the jailoo first, traditionally cooked meals for the following families.
In autumn, when roaming back, Kyrgyz people ran some magic rites to return there the following season. To the pit of the pegs, to which foals were tied, nomads poured ayran or kumys to ingratiate spirits.
Nomads looked after their cattle very carefully. During the day only men were traditionally involved in the process of graze. At night this function was passed to young women. Looking after their livestock, they sang a special song (“bekbekey”), which scared off predators and evil spirits away from the flock. The birth of a calf, lamb, camel or colt had always been a great joy for the owner.
Another important occupation of nomadic people was hunting. Adroit hunters had a lot of special tools for moving in the highlands. They hunted mainly for wolves, deer, mountain goats. Hunters actively used hunting birds such as eagles, falcons and hawks. Kyrgyz hunters also used dogs of a special breed Taigans for battues.
The elements of the traditional nomadic way of life even having passed through the centuries, preserved in the Kyrgyz people’s life to the present day. On jailoo, around the beautiful untouched nature you’ll be able to see the yurts of locals and great flocks of cattle.