Visit to a Kazak nomad family

Bayan-Ulgii Province, Western Mongolia

The Kazakhs are a Turkic people of the western part of Mongolia (largely Kazakhstan, but also found in parts of Uzbekistan, China, Russia, and Mongolia). modern-day Kazakhs are now descendants of Turkic tribes Mongol groups, Indo-Iranian tribes and Huns which populated the territory between Siberia and the Black Sea and remained in Central Asia when the Turkic and Mongolic groups started to invade and conquer the area between the fifth and thirteenth centuries AD.

Kazakh nomads have lived in Central Asia for 400years but first started to come to the Bayan-Ulgii area in the 1840s for grazing their sheep on the high mountain pastures during summer. They then returned to Kazakhstan or Xinjiang for

The word Kazakh is said to mean *free warrior* or *steppe roamer or that it derives from the Mongol word khasaq (a wheeled cart used by the Kazakhs to transport their yurts and belongings). Kazakhs trace their roots to the 15

Fair to light-brown skin tends to be the norm. Among physical traits are aquiline noses, epicanthic fold, and high cheekbones. Hair color among Kazakhs varies from prevalent jet black to red and sandy brown. Hazel, green and blue eyes are not uncommon. These nomads roamed in the Altai Mountains (and thus are known as Altaic peoples) in northern Mongolia and on the steppes of Central Asia.

The traditional costume for Kazakh women is along with dress with stand-up collars or a brightly-decorated velvet waistcoat with heavy jewelry. Older married women often wear white headscarf. The men still wear baggy shirts and trousers, sleeveless jackets, long black cloaks (not similar to Mongolian traditional del), skullcap, or a fox-fur hat. Kazakh culture of Mongolia is far more intact than that of strongly Russified Kazakhstan.


Kazakh's Culture

Kazakh culture is quite different from Mongolian: even Kazakh saddles are a different shape. Many are also skilled in the performance of Kazakh traditional songs. One of the most commonly used traditional musical instruments of the Kazakhs is the dombra, a plucked lute with two strings. Another popular instrument is kobyz, a bowed instrument played on the knees. Along with other instruments, these two instruments play a key role in the traditional Kazakh orchestra.

 Kazakh gers are taller, wider, and more richly decorated than the Mongolian version. Wall hangings known as tush and felt carpets, decorated with stylized animal motifs, are common.

Kazakhs generally adhere rather loosely to Sunni Islam, but religion is not a major force. This is because of their distance from the center of Islam, their nomadic lifestyle, and the suppression of Islam by Stanlism. Islam is making a comeback in Bayan-Ulgii, however, following the lifting of restriction against religion, aid packages from other Muslim countries, the construction of a mosque in Ulgii, and the first hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca in 1992. Islamic law has always sat lightly with the many Kazakhs, however, who enjoy a bottle of vodka as much as the next Mongolian. The main Kazakh holiday is the pre-Islamic spring festival of Naruuz, celebrated on March 22.

Kazakhs speak a Turkic language with 42 Cyrillic letters, similar to Russian, and a little different from Mongolians. Ethnic Kazakhs live predominantly in Western Mongolia in Bayan-Ölgii Province (88.7% of total province population) and Khovd Province (11.5% of the total province population, living primarily in the Khovd city, Khovd sum and Buyant sum). In addition, a number of Kazakh communities can be found in various cities and towns spread throughout the country. Some of the major population centers with a significant Kazakh presence include Ulan Bator (90% in Nalaikh düüreg), Töv and Selenge provinces, Erdenet, Darkhan, Bulgan, Sharyngol (17.1% of population total) and Berkh cities. In Mongolia, year by year, the number of Kazakh people is increasing. In fact, by the end of the 1950s, there were 36.729 Kazakhs lived and it was 4.3 percent of the whole Mongolian population. But in 2007, there are 140.152 Kazakhs living and it is 5.39 percent of the Mongolian population. The Mongolian government is trying to placate the Kazakh minority, and stop them returning to Kazakhstan, by encouraging the Kazakh language in schools in Bayan-Ulgii.