Yurt makers village
The village of Kyzyl Tuu is situated on the south side of the Issyk-Kul lake, about 30 km outside Bokonbaevo. The village is known throughout Kyrgyzstan for it's tradition of yurt making. In fact, about 80% of the villagers work as yurt makers. Visitors can tour the workshops and learn how willow wood is cut, treated and bent into the various pieces that become the frame. Once covered with felt and decorated with colorful carpets, a Kyrgyz yurt serves as a well insulated home during cold nights, especially for families that live in the mountains. By the way: Did you know that the upper crown of the yurt is the symbol at the center of the Kyrgyz flag? The sun that surrounds it has 40 points which represent the 40 original tribe mothers of Kyrgyzstan who were united by the hero Manas.
Traditional music in Kyrgyzstan is still a very important part of the local culture. The songs are folkloric in nature and cover various themes. For example, some songs associated witg the classic tales of Kyrgyz antiquity, while others may describe the natural beauty of the mountains, or a young shepard's yearning to be with his beloved wife whilst alone in a "jailoo." Performers foremost use the komuz, a three string instrument that musicians can play in a very flexible way, such as behind the head, or with a fist. Other instruments in a performance include a mouth harp, drums, flute and accordian.
There is a famous family of musicians called the "Kut" in Kyrgyzstan.
They are descendant from a long line of sheep herders that have perserved their family traditions of music, folklore and poetry. They have toured the world giving performances.
If you enter a Kyrgyz house or a nomad's yurt you will probably set foot on a traditional felt carpet. Two varieties of these carpets exist, an "Ala kiyiz" and a "Shyrdak." The art of creating them is not only an important part of the country's cultural heritage, but also provides a sense of identity for the women who produce them. It's not surprising that their art is considered a Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. When making an Ala kiyiz, different layers of colored felt are pressed together, but for the creation of a Shyrdak, the process is more complex and requires a special sewing technique. For hundreds of years the traditional knowledge of how to make the felt, patterns, and stitches of the carpet is passed on to the younger generation by the older women.
Visitors can enter the workshops, meet the carpet makers and then watch them work on an Ala kiyiz or Shyrdak. For those who want to decorate their home with one of these colorful carpets, a good selection of pieces are available for sale. If there's not enough space in a suitcase, a carpet can be sent by international mail. Also, there are small purses, traditional kalpak hats, mini felt yurts and other handmade goods that make for an excellent souvenir.