Of Gods and Goddesses
Tengri, Umai, and the gods of the Turkic pantheon are at the root of ancient mythology in Kyrgyz culture.
At the intersection of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and China, there rises a stunning, pyramid-shaped peak called Khan-Tengri.
The name of this peak comes from the Turkic god of sky and creation: Tengri. The pantheon of Turkic gods of which Tengri ruled was worshiped by people throughout the Central Asian region, from Turkey across to parts of Russia and Mongolia. A nomadic people, deeply connected to the natural world, it is no surprise that there was a strong belief in a pantheon of gods who ruled over the different elements of the earth and sky.
A few of the primary deities include:
A list of all the gods can be seen in this blog from fairychamber.
The gods of the Turkic pantheon are not so prevalent in Kyrgyz religious practice today, but the reverence for the natural elements prevails. Ask youth of the current generation about Tengri and Umai and they will likely not be able to tell you much, but bring up environmental concerns or an admiration for Kyrgyzstan’s beauty and a deep resonance will result. Snow and sun are loved with equal passion. Flowers, trees, and water are pursued for their beauty. Care for animals and children is of the highest priority. A instinctual attunement to the seasons and agriculture resembles the Native American’s development of a lunar calendar.
Perhaps lasting evidence of Kyrgyz connection to the Turkic pantheon is seen in the use of the symbol for Tengri, or Tengrism. It is reflected in the most Kyrgyz of symbols: the tunduk. Situated at the top of the boz-ui, the tunduk represents the sun, the months, and the four seasons. This cross-shaped symbol is used on the national flag and prevalent in decor throughout the country.
Felt and Silk Designs
Innovative and impressive examples of Kyrgyz creativity can be seen at local craft fairs and in souvenir shops. In this example, the process of soaking, rolling and pressing the felt is combined with a fine layer of silk and dried leaves. The impression of the leaves remains in the silk, as the silk fuses with the felt.
Shyrdaks | Traditional Kyrgyz Rugs
Shyrdaks are the Turkish carpet of Central Asia. One large rug can take 8-12 months to complete, with a group of women working together to create the multilayered, intricately stitched, piece of art. These shyrdaks remain in a family over many generations, gently softening and blending in their designs with use and wear.
Embroidery and Stitching
Most often seen on clothing, bold, prominent stitching gracefully curves into a multitude of patterns, most of which reflect natural elements. Flowers, birds, the sun, rivers, and other animals will often be portrayed on jackets and vests, but also boots, hats, bags, and household linens. Like shyrdaks, this handiwork takes many hours of patient work, but remains in
Online Content Editor @ White Leopard Travel Co.
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