NOMADIC CULTURE

Kyrgyzstan has a rich nomadic heritage and traditions that have been woven into the identity of
the Kyrgyz people. During summer months, many families continue to graze their herds in moun-
tain meadows, called jailoos, preserving old customs and ways of nomadic life. Everywhere in Kyr
gyzstan, there are signs of the vibrant ancestry that still influences the lives of the Kyrgyz people
Sports and other types of competitions were hallmarks of Kyrgyz nomadic life. Sports were al-
ways considered the key to healthy living that cultivated an inner spiritualism. Every man had to
possess athletic prowess to compete in contests of strength, agility, and resilience, central to the
definition of Kyrgyz manhood. In nomadic tradition, all competitions took place on horseback
where the rider and horse formed an integral whole.
The most popular Kyrgyz equestrian games are still observed today through both formal and infor-
mal competitive events. Horsemanship dominates all competitions, including At Chabysh (horse
racing at 20-30 kilometers per hour over long distances) and Jorgo Salysh (horse racing for shorter
distances). No less thrilling is the battle of horsemen called Oodarysh, as well as the collective
struggle of two teams vying for possession of an animal carcass called Ulak Tartysh or Kok Boru.

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