The nomad clans of Kyrgyzstan were famous for their hospitality, kindness and openness, the
same traits that continue to this day. Guests have always been welcome and honored among the
Kyrgyz people. There were three types of guests: First, mildetuu konok were «obligatory guests»
arriving for attendance at a wedding or funeral, and accommodations for these guest would be
distributed among related families or entire villages. Second, taanysh konok «familiar guests»
might include distant relatives or friends, who could be treated more casually, depending on the
relationship between the host and guest. The third type was kydaly konok «god’s guests,» such
as travelers who might ask for shelter. Kyrgyz families were obliged to provide food and a night’s
shelter to anyone who stopped near their home at sunset and asked if they could stay. If the fam-
ily were too poor, then relatives would be required to come to their assistance. It was important
to preserve the good name of the clan and avoid «evil gossip» about their lack of hospitality.
Visitors have many opportunities for home stays with Kyrgyz families or accommodation in yurt
camps that offer a glimpse into the nomadic life of yesteryear. Yurts themselves symbolize the
connection between the Kyrgyz and their land. Decorated with traditional felt carpets called shy-
draks and other embroidered handiwork, yurts offer a surprisingly warm and comfortable shelter
during cool nights in mountain meadows at high altitudes.

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