Articles by nargiza

Defining Kyrgyz Identity

The fact that I find it difficult to define myself as a Kyrgyz person occurred to me  only when I moved to London. Not only most people around me find it difficult to pronounce Kyrgyzstan, most of them have no idea what Kyrgyzstan is. The fact that I am Asian, Muslim and speak Russian doesn’t make it any easier.  So the question occurred, how do I accurately describe myself as a Kyrgyz person?

By now I have realized that it’s impossible to do it without a lengthy introduction into Kyrgyz History, because after all identity is shaped by culture, and culture is shaped by history, well, and many other components. (more…)

October 28, 2011 1 comment

Traditional and modern: two Kyrgyz weddings

In Kyrgyz culture marriage is one of the most important decisions and acts of person’s life. Family definitely stands among highest priorities of Kyrgyz people and marriages are meant to last for a lifetime. Therefore the wedding is very important not only for the bride and groom, but for their extended family and friends.

Kyrgyz weddings incorporate rituals, some of which often controversial. For example it is quite common to marry in a white “western style” gown, but along the “western” style wedding it’s mandatory to conduct the ritual of nikkah, the muslim traditional ritual of marriage. In other words, just like Kyrgyz culture, Kyrgyz weddings represent mix of traditions and cultures, which are cherished and influential in Kyrgyzstan.


Bakytbek Tokubek uulu and Meerim Avtandil kyzy

To get a clearer picture of what a Kyrgyz wedding looks like, I have decided to describe two real weddings, one done in modern “western” style and another in “traditional” Kyrgyz style.

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August 3, 2011 5 comments

My City: Bishkek

I have got very diverse relationships with places, each city or village either loves me or not, so do I. The idea of creating a photoblog named “My City”, with series of photographs of different cities occurred long ago. But finally it is coming to life.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I am happy to present the rubric “My City” and the first city is MY BISHKEK.

Brief introduction: Bishkek is the capital of Kyrgyzstan, post-soviet republic, located in Central Asia. Bishkek turned this year. It has rich history and full of life. You can find old buildings from the times before the revolution. You can find revolutionary and Soviet signs and signs of modernity.

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April 27, 2011 1 comment

“Long Distance love” – a film about love and more

The Kyrgyz documentary film “Long Distance love” was filmed by Swedish team Magnus Gerttenom and Ellen Jonsson. The film is based on real events and was filmed over two years. Film premiere was held at the “private show” Kyrgyz Cultural Center.

The film narrates about the fate of Alisher Sultanov, a resident of Osh city (in Southern Kyrgyzstan), forced to go to Russia to earn money to feed his young family.

Alisher on the train to Moscow

The train to Moscow

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March 23, 2011 4 comments

The film “Almaz” as a personification of Kyrgyzstan

Elnura Osmonalieva’s “Almaz” is the first full-length documentary filmed in Kyrgyzstan in the past fifteen years. Directed of “Almaz” by an alumnus of the American University of Central Asia, the film has already gained festival success and has been recognized for the depth and complexity of the topic.

Critics and sociologists believe this film is not just about one character, but about Kyrgyzstan as a whole. Cinema critic Gulbara Tolomusheva drew an interesting parallel between “Almaz” and our country: the same age, 19 years, the same background, and the same dramatic twists and turns. According to her, this film is a microcosm – a private story about the fate of an entire country.

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March 9, 2011 Comments disabled

Kyrgyzstan's resurgence in traditional healing

A crowd patiently waits, snaking around the dark halls of a small office. Some pace nervously while children bounce in laps. One’s first guess of this being an underequipped doctor’s office isn’t so far off. The clients who fill this busy room, who quickly enter and exit a small examination room, waiting for some mysterious physician, are turning to the traditional Kyrgyz practice of healing that was once forgotten during Soviet times. Rapakan Aidarkulova, a 63-year-old woman from Karakol near Lake Issyk Kul is just one healer playing an active part in this countrywide resurgence of traditional knowledge within Kyrgyzstan.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union more Kyrgyz are rediscovering once rigidly controlled and often forbidden traditional practices, turning to ancestral knowledge as a key to the past. These practices include pilgrimages to sacred sites known as Mazaars, soothsaying, treatment from traditional healers, and the reciting of oral histories in the form of the world’s large epic – Manas.

During the Soviet times, traditional practices were heavily restricted and believed to be strong expressions of nationalism that threatened stability within the republics. Under Party control, healers, soothsayers, and other traditional practitioners were forced to hide their abilities, practicing behind closed doors away from prying eyes.

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November 19, 2010 Comments disabled