I learnt the legend of how felt was discovered from ten-year old Altynbek, my guide as we rode through Chong Kemin valley on a horse and cart. Altynbek told of a poor boy who stuffed holes in his shoes with wool. After days of walking and sweating it pressed into felt. Continue reading →
Fifty kilometers southwest of Kashgar in the remote northwest Xinjiang province of China lies Upal (Opal), a Uyghur market oasis strategically located on the old Silk Road between China and Pakistan. Upal is the final home and resting place of the first man of Turkish words: Mahmud Kashgari (c. 1029-c. 1101) the eleventh century lexicographer of the Divan-I Lugat al-turk, or dictionary of the Turkish language. According to the Encyclopedia of Islam, Kashgari was born Mahmud Kashgari ibn Husayn ibn Muhammad in Barskhan (Barsghan) on the shore of Lake Issyk-kul in present-day Kyrgyzstan (although some sources say he was born in Kashgar, hence his surname) into an aristocratic Uyghur family of scholars connected on his father’s side to the reigning Karakhnid Dynasty. His mother, of Arab descent, was an intellectual named Bibi Rābiy’a al-Basrī after the pious female Sufi saint from Baghdad. Continue reading →
Continuing the Traditions of Kyrgyzstan – in Cornwall
The yurts are tucked into a fold of the valley, hidden from the path. I walk down a steep slope, glimpsing the curve of tunduks. Grass crunches under foot, crispy as it emerges from heavy winter snow. A river rumbles over boulders; delicate white flowers decorate the ground. I can see no other signs of habitation and hear only the water and pheasants calling across the fields. Here, on the edge of wild Bodmin Moor, where sheep and horses graze freely, I feel as if I am back in Kyrgyzstan. In this remote Cornish valley, Tim Hutton is creating a yurt camp where visitors can enjoy the peace of living with nature. He makes the yurts himself using methods learnt in Kyrgyzstan. In this secluded valley, the traditional crafts of Kyrgyzstan are being continued and celebrated. Continue reading →
Kyrgyzstan’s post-Soviet history through the eyes of a foreign investor who has been living in the contry for more than 15 years.
This semi autobiographical book was launched on the 20th January 2012, at the newly renamed and refurbished Giorgio’s Adricatio Italian restaurant on Chui Avenue, Bishkek, The Kyrgyz Republic. Amongst a privileged few I was fortunate to receive an advanced copy of this book, and what a fascinating and interesting read, an absolute page turner to the end. Continue reading →
Two CATBIG countries, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, have been in focus recently following visits from Nigel Peters of British Expertise to produce business opportunity reports on the countries. Continue reading →
Throughout Central Asia, the burial sites of saints and mystiques, of men and women who may have lived hundreds of years ago play an integral part of everyday life. Often though, we find ourselves at a loss when asked by a foreign visitor about a particular shrine and the story behind it. We may know detailed facts about Ancient Greece, Rome or Egypt but very little about the heritage of our own native land. This applies to us in Kyrgyzstan as well. Who, for example, has heard of Shah Fasil and the legends around the Mausoleum in his name?
Tucked away at the small village of Safid-Bulan in the Jalalabad Oblast, in the northwestern part of the Ferghana Valley, where the borders of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan converge, lies the historical and architectural complex, Shah-Fasil, first mentioned in Persian and Arabian sources under the guise of Isbid-Bulan. Legend has it that Arabian conquerors under Shah Jarir, the grandson of Prophet Muhammed, Continue reading →
“God bless кыргызское мясо!” (God bless Kyrgyz meat!)
Facebook meme, widespread among young Kyrgyz.
The collapse of USSR resulted in chaos in Kyrgyzstan. Most of the Issky-Kul region’s factories were closed and many people found themselves without jobs. The Altymyshev family was forced to make a difficult choice. Karypbai Altymyshev had trained as a commodities administrator and his wife was an accountant in a factory. But the end of communism forced them to revert to the nomadic lifestyle of their Kyrgyz ancestors. They had the knowledge of how to work with livestock from their parents – hereditary shepherds, cattle breeders and butchers. Continue reading →