Apr 11, 2017
A visit to Kyrgyzstan Featuring Horse Games,Crafts and Monuments
The Kyrgyz people are descended from nomads and are proud of their horsemanship. While we were there we got to experience display of traditional Kyrgyz horse games, including Oodarysh, a kind of wresting match on horseback and Ulak Tartysh a sort of polo played with a goat carcass. Photos of each are featured.
Horsing around in Kyrgyzstan Riding towards the Goal
Reaching for the prize
Arts and Crafts
Arts and crafts of Kyrgyz people has evolved over the centuries. It was formed based on the needs of people’s everyday life, and the nomadic way of life influenced their Customns. Among the major forms of arts and crafts felt art, weaving, patterned embroidery, making of mat, leather products, jewelry, and wood carving.
The art of making felt products is closely related to the dwelling of the nomads, the yurt. Carpets of felt, decorated with ornaments, are called “shyrdaks”. Shyrdak is a very important element in the decoration of a yurt. It is usually located on the floor. Felts for shyrdaks are made from sheep wool, which is tightly rolled and painted in bright colors. Felt is made from pieces of ornament, then they are sewn together to form a beautiful carpet. Shyrdak’s length is usually four meters. width is about two meters. The great meaning in the applied arts has the carpet “ala kiyiz” (kyrg. “motley felt”). It differs from shyrdak that felt pieces are not sewn, but they are rolled to each other.
We purchased a traditional men’s hats, or kalpak in a typical felt design.
Model of the typical Kyrygzstan Hat
Embroidery also can be noted as significant craft of Kyrgyz people. Often only women involved in it. They skillfully embroider patterns and ornaments on fabrics, leather and felt. Kyrgyz masters magnificently embroider wall pictures “tush-kiyiz”. Such pictures’ center is usually plain, without patterns, while the sides are framed by the wonderful color ornaments. Pattern embroidery is also common for traditional bags “ayak-kap” and hanging shelves “tekche”.
Felt Craft and Wool Spinning
Jan 12, 2017
Burana Tower and Balbals
The present-day name of the tower – Burana, comes from the Arabic “monar”, minaret. Quite a number of legends are bound up with the history of the construction of the tower. One of them has it that a mighty local khan ordered its construction as a refuge for his only daughter, for a prophet had foretold her death from the bite of a karakurt – a poisonous spider. These insects were in profusion in the area. Despite the father’s efforts to foil the fates, the prophesy came true and the daughter perished from the bite of the spider brought inside the refuge together with black grapes.
The minaret of the archeological site dates to the 10-11th centuries. It is among the oldest constructions of this type in the whole of Central Asia. Its original height was about 45 miters, the upper part of it was adorned with a lantern dome with four doorways looking out the four cardinal points. The present height of the tower is 24,6 m; the upper part of it collapsed during an earthquake that took place about the 15th or 16th centuries.
There were major archaeological surveys of the site in the 1920s, 1950s and 1970s. The archaeologists discovered that the town had a complicated layout covering some 25-30 square kilometers. There were ruins of a central fortress, some handicraft shops, bazaars, four religious buildings, domestic dwellings, a bathhouse, a plot of arable land and a water main (pipes delivering water from a nearby canyon). Two rings of walls surrounded the town. The town was located on the Silk Road.
Now the Burana archeological site has become an open-air historical and architectural museum.
The collection of the museum includes real sculptural masterpieces of the medieval fine arts dating from the 6-10th centuries. Many Petroglyphs from the area are also featured
An interesting highlight of the Open-air Museum are the Balbals (grave markers used by nomadic Turkic peoples who used to roam Central Asia) and Petroglyphs (paintings on stones) which have been collected and placed here from all around the Chu valley.;
Balbals – ancient stone sculptures of Kyrgyzstan. With settling of Turkic tribes on the territory of Kyrgyzstan, appear a new ceremony of burring; in which wildly spread the custom of installation the stone sculptures on the graves. Mostly they made of granite, sometimes from limestone. Also the only flagstones were selected for statues. Sometimes the surfaces were meticulously trimmed, sometimes not.
In its mass the stone sculptures are not the same, scientists distinguish 2 main groups: the 1st group are valued, round sculptures on which clearly traced the proportions of the figures and details: clothes, jewelry, weapon. The 2nd group are flat sculptures, when on the stone the contour line image just a head with the face features, or even rarely the whole figure. The last group is dominated and probably older then the 1st group. Usually the statues represent the Male-stern fighters, rarely female, the faces are mongoloid. In the right hand there is a vessel, on the waist there is a knife or sabre.
Stone sculptures date to 6-10th century and a very few of them to 10-12th centuries. One of the main causes of disappearance was the spread of Islam, as it is known Islam forbid imaginations of alive people, animals, birds.
The stone sculptures were created by skillful sculptors-masons who were the great artists of the time. They could correctly reproduce the proportions of the figure, face features, jewelry. There are also 2 hypothesizes of the purposes these sculptures: the 1st one is what the stone statues represent dead Turks by themselves and the 2nd is what the stone statue is an imagination of an outstanding adversary killed by Turk in the real life, and who has to serve the winner in his next-after death life. Also, in most of the burial places main sculptures were surrounded by a number of smaller rocks that were supposed to represent the number of enemies that person killed during his life so they became his servants in the afterlife.
More Information on the Balbals;
Balbals have two clearly distinct forms: conic and flat, with shaved top. Considering the evidence of Orkhon inscriptions that every balbal represented a certain person, such distinction cannot be by chance. Likely here is marked an important ethnographic attribute, a headdress. The steppe-dwellers up until present wear a conic ‘malahai’, and the Altaians wear flat round hats. The same forms of headdresses are recorded for the 8th century.
The Petroglyphs represent animals such as deer, mountain sheep and wolves as well as sun and person shapes.
Dec 22, 2016
“Two thousand years ago, caravans of pack animals and traders followed a route west from their home in China over the Steppe of Central Asia and into the fertile valleys of Europe, bringing with them silk, porcelain and spices. When adventurous Europeans traveled the Silk Road in the opposite direction, they came back with knowledge that changed the destiny of Western Civilization. Experience the history, culture and people that link the living cities and ancient ruins lining the Silk Road.”
The above is the introduction to the Program Summary by Road Scholar about a wonderful educational trip to the five “Stans”. Kyrgystan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.
“In the heart of the Asian continent, where mighty conquerors and trading caravans once strode the Silk Road, the “seven Stans” weave a carpet of many colors. Prior to 1991 maps showed only Afghanistan and Pakistan. Then came the Soviet Union breakup and the birth of five new nations: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Today, these independent states continue to forge identities amid continuing conflicts.”
- In the upcoming posts I will present photos taken on our recent trip “On the Silk Road in Central Asia”.
Some years ago we traveled along the part of the Silk Road in China, perhaps a few of those pictures will also be featured.
- In preparation for this trip I read many books, some Fiction, but mostly Nonfiction including: Raiders from the North by Alex Rutherford, Chengli and the Silk Road Caravan, by Hildi Kang, Shadow of the Silk Road Colin Thubron, Journeys on the Silk Road by Joyce Morgan and Conrad Walters, The Cancer Ward Alexander Sulzhenitsyn, The Great Game by Peter Hopkirk, The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan. All were interestong because I hadn’t read much about the karea. If any of you are interested I would highly recommend the last two, amazing incites and history.
- Before we left the States we were advised that the Stans produced beautiful Arts and Crafts. We were able to view and purchase examples of this in each country.
A map of the Central Asia relates the potentially explosive region in which these Countries are located.
The Stans got their Independence from USSR two Decades ago and the path the countries have taken since the independence is somewhat different. For more reading check your local library.
Kyrgyzstan was the first Stan that we visited. A sign that I photographed in Bishkek impressed me–I have included it in this Introduction to the Silk Road series on my site.
Aug 27, 2016
Nevada Wier Seminar
Attended a great Seminar today taught by Nevada Wier. She is a multiple award-winning photographer specializing in the remote corners of the globe and the cultures that inhabit them. Her journeys have taken her crisscrossing the globe in search of compelling travel experiences and images. Her home base is in Santa Fe NM and since she was home in NM for a while our Photo Club was able to secure her talent.
Nevada was the photographer for The Land of Nine Dragons – Vietnam Today (Abbeville Press, 1992),photography from contemporary Vietnam, winner of the Lowell Thomas Best Travel Book of 1992 award, and the writer/photographer for Adventure Travel Photography (Amphoto, 1993). She was a participating photographer in A Day in the Life of Thailand (Collins, 1995),Planet Vegas (Collins, 1995), and Mother Earth (Sierra Club Editions 2002). Her current works in progress are A Nomadic Vision (publication TBA) and Myanmar: Lost in Timea photo book on Myanmar (publication TBA).
She widened our horizons, highlighting such things as, color, creativity, action, depth of field, reminded us we always need to SEE what is around us, and the need to form relationships to get better pictures of people in other cultures. Photography is about finding the best light, and problem solving, what one person my like others my not. So many concepts and ideas to enumerate in this blog, sign up to take one of her workshops or seminars in your area. To me photography is an ongoing learning experience, and a Nevada Wier Seminar; such a notable photographer, is a valuable learning experience.
In my photography I look forward to use and apply some of the new approaches Nevada presented and start using others that I have learned but forgotten to use.
I also want to share a few of the Quotes she gave us during the class.
“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things. Leonardo da Vinci
“Life is pretty simple: you do some stuff.
Most fails. Some works.
You do more of what works.
If it works big, others quickly copy it.
Then you do something else.
The trick is to do something else.”
Leonardo d Vinci
“Creativity can solve almost any problem.
the creative act, the defeat of habit by originality,
“There are three classes of people:
Those who see,
Those who see what they are shown,
Those who do not see.”
Leonardo da Vinci
Page 1 of 3012345...102030...»Last »