Culture of Kyrgyzstan

The culture of Kyrgyzstan was formed under the strong influence of nomadic life. Meanwhile, it was influenced by the cultures of Russia, Persia and Turkey, and yet it remained quite unique. The connection of Kyrgyz culture with nature can be seen everywhere: from design to music. One of the most famous examples of Kyrgyz culture is the epos “Manas” – an incredibly long poem that has been transmitted from one generation to another.

The Kyrgyz always lived in close contact with nature. From their housing to clothing, everything was designed to adapt to changing weather and places. Yurts are easily take a part and transported from place to place. Shirdaks and tush-kyz (felt carpets and embroidery on the walls), which can be seen in the yurt, are also inspired by nature. Even the clothes were made from natural materials and were comfortable and beautiful.

Horses are the most important animal in Kyrgyz culture. They were used as a vehicle and played an important role in wars, also their meat was used in some traditional dishes, and our traditional drink – kymyz was made from mare’s milk. A many of wedding ceremonies were not complete without horses, and they could also be used as a dowry or payment for something.


Of course, one of the most important symbols of Kyrgyzstan is a nomadic dwelling – a yurt. For centuries, it was the yurt that was the main dwelling of the Kyrgyz, defining their lifestyle, which consists in moving from the mountains and back. People lived in yurts all their life, celebrations were held, and the yurt itself was of great value and significance. Technically, a yurt is a small tent with a wooden prefabricated frame and covered with layers of felt that does not allow cold and moisture to pass through. All elements of the frame and cover are collapsible, and therefore the yurt can be assembled and transferred to another place without any effort.

The yurt is not a purely Kyrgyz invention; it is widespread among the Mongolian and Turkic peoples. However, it is the Kyrgyz yurt that is known as the most beautiful and skillfully crafted of all the others and is distinguished by a more complex manufacture.

The most difficult part to manufacture in a Kyrgyz yurt is the tunduk – the upper part of the yurt, which is the connection point for the roof, which allows the roof of the yurt to be stable and not fall. The tunduk also serves as a chimney and a source of light in the daytime. By the way, the tunduk is depicted on the flag of the Kyrgyz Republic.

Also, unlike other countries where yurts today are installed and manufactured mainly for decorative purposes and are relatively rare, in Kyrgyzstan, the yurt is still widely used in people’s lives. Nowadays, authentic Kyrgyz yurts can easily be found on high mountain pastures, where livestock are brought for grazing in the summer. Yurts are also widely used for guest houses in remote mountainous areas.


The nomadic and livestock culture of the Kyrgyz people could not but give rise to material culture associated with animals. From sheep’s wool and animal skin, Kyrgyz people have done many beautiful and interesting things for centuries.

The main product of Kyrgyz craftsmanship, of course, is felt. Felt is coarse matter that is made from pressed sheep wool, and it is felt that has become one of the most significant materials in Kyrgyz culture. The field of application of felt is truly enormous. Felt is used to make yurts, clothes, including a national chapan and ak-kalpak dressing. However, the famous Kyrgyz felt carpet, the shyrdak, deserves a special place, the manufacture of which requires great skill and perseverance. A distinctive feature of the shyrdak are patterns in the form of an ethnic ornament, bizarre and rather difficult to apply.

Also widely known are Kyrgyz mats woven from a plant called chiy, which are used to produce felt, warm yurts and are used for decorative purposes.owns, toys, home decoration, and much, much more.


Oral and musical creativity is a very important part of the Kyrgyz national culture. Its most striking expression is the largest epic in the world – Manas. This epic written between the 16th and 17th centuries was transmitted orally until the 20th century, when it was recorded by Soviet researchers. Manas is a huge work of volume, which has more than 500,000 lines of text.

The epic tells about the events of the 16th century, Kyrgyz move from Altai to the Tien Shan, the struggle against the Chinese invaders and has its own real historical roots. It is important to know that the epic is performed in a very special way. Tales of the epic are called manaschi and are able to reproduce the text of the epic for several days in a row without a break, falling into a kind of trance. Very often such storytelling is combined to the accompaniment of a Kyrgyz national instrument – komuz.

One of the musical culture of the Kyrgyz people are the famous poet-storytellers – akyns. Their distinctive feature is improvisation, and each performance of the song will certainly be different from the other.


The Kyrgyz State Opera and Ballet Theater was founded as an educational theater in 1926. The current theater building was erected in 1955, and performances are still regularly held here. Famous artists of the theater are Abdilas Maldybaev, who took part in the writing of the State Anthem of the Kyrgyz SSR (the theater bears his name); and prima ballerina Bubusara Beishenalieva, who regularly performed in the Soviet Union and abroad.

The oldest theater in Kyrgyzstan is the Osh State Academic Uzbek Music and Drama Theater.

In the center of Bishkek is the Kyrgyz National Philharmonic. A large statue of Manas rises in the square in front of the Philharmonic, around which, representing the rich musical history of Kyrgyzstan, there are busts of famous manaschi and akyns. The Philharmonic Society itself is named after Toktogul Satylganov, one of the most famous musicians and poets of Kyrgyzstan. Here you can listen to the performances of the best Kyrgyz and foreign musicians.


The epos “Manas” is the most famous example of the culture of Kyrgyzstan and (possibly) the longest epic poem in the world. 20 times longer than the Odyssey, this epic tells the story of the life of a warrior Manas, as well as the adventures of his son and grandson.

This story has been kept and retold from generation to generation by special people, storytellers of the epos – manaschi (manaschi). The epic was recorded in the 1800s, the first full version was published in the 1920s. Manas has been translated into many languages, published in the Soviet Union and abroad.

At the beginning of the poem, the warrior Manas, born in the Talas region, is mentioned. At the center of the story is his attempt to reunite the warring tribes and create a homeland for his people. His wise wife from Samarkand named Kanykey and adviser Bakai are also important heroes of the poem. In the second and third parts of the poem, the main characters are the son of Manas Semetey and his grandson Seitek.

In Talas there is a mausoleum where, possibly, the remains of Manas are kept.


The history of Kyrgyz national sports games goes back to the nomadic antiquity, when men have to show their strength and dexterity. It is not surprising that almost all national sports in Kyrgyzstan are associated with horses.

The most popular national sports are equestrian sports. The best-known is the competitive team game of kok-boru, where two teams of 8 people compete in throwing the carcass of a goat at the opponent’s goal. This game requires a lot of stamina, physical strength and skill in managing a horse.

Er-enish is also popular – the struggle of horse riders, the meaning of which is to throw the opponent off the horse. Horse riding and speed racing are also widespread among equestrian sports.

Another important sport for the Kyrgyz is wrestling, and Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling, as well as the national Kyrgyz wrestling on belts, are alish.

And one of the most popular entertainment games is the Chuko game, known in Russian as the game of Alchik.


Kyrgyz national clothing has remained unc  hanged for seven hundred years. Clothing of the Kyrgyz people is the main part of the material and spiritual culture of the people. All the outfits are closely connected with the history of the people – they clearly reflected the social status, marital status and age of the person. A distinctive feature of national clothes is their adaptability to the conditions of nomadic life, horseback riding.

National Men’s Clothing

Kyrgyz men’s clothing consisted of underwear and outerwear. There were several varieties of men’s trousers made of leather or suede – “zhargak shym”, “kandagai”, “chalbar”. Such harem pants were worn by heroes and rich people. They sewed them so wide that dressing gowns were freely filled in them. Winter clothes were fur coats called ichik. By the way, Kyrgyz people especially appreciated fur coats from wild animals such as wolf, fox, lynx and others. An ancient type of men’s shoes were choka ankle boots and a charyk, ikea rations of leather, hats: tebetei, kalpak and malakai special fit.

National Women’s Clothing

Women’s wardrobe also consisted of both underwear and outerwear. On the chest of women’s shirts there was always an embroidery, and if it was not worn, a “Jacques” breastplate embroidered with colored thread. Unique elements of women’s clothing were a swing skirt – “beldemchi”. Men were also used as “combat clothes”, but in such cases they were covered with metal plates.

Girls hats were usually decorated with feathers of birds, various ornaments were sewn to them: silver, pearls, corals and other precious stones. There were such types of hats as a skullcap – “top”, a fur hat – “tabeteus”, a high headdress without ear-flaps “shөkүlө” and a headdress of an “elechek” turban. The headdress of the “elechek”, “kelek” or “ileki” included “takya” or “kep takya”, which was worn on the head before wrapping a turban. A short or long sleeveless jacket – “chyptama”, a camisole with short sleeves – “Kemels”, a dressing gown – “Chapan”, a quilted dressing gown – “Chepken” were put on over the shirt dress.


Some monuments and memorials in Kyrgyzstan remained from the time of the Soviet Union, others appeared only after independence. Not so long ago, the erected statues of Manas coexist with Lenin, Chingiz Aitmatov, Toktogul Satylganov, Przhevalsky. In Bishkek, there are also monuments to those who died in World War II (on Victory Square) and a memorial to those who died for freedom (in memory of those who died in the 2010 revolution). Ata Beyit, near Bishkek, is a monument to those killed during political purges.