KYRGYZ HOSPITALITY

The nomad clans of Kyrgyzstan were famous for their hospitality, kindness, and openness, the same traits that continue to this day. Guests have always been welcomed and honored among the Kyrgyz people. There were three types of guests: First, mildetuu konok were ‘obligatory guests,’ arriving for attendance at a wedding or funeral, and accommodations for these guest would be distributed among related families or entire villages. Second, taanysh konok, or ‘familiar guests,’ would include distant relatives or friends, who could be treated more casually, depending on the relationship between the host and guest. And lastly, were the kydaly konok, or ‘god’s guests,’ which would refer to travelers who would ask for shelter. Kyrgyz families were obliged to provide food and a night’s shelter to anyone who stopped near their home at sunset and asked if they could stay. If the family were too poor, then relatives would be required to come to their assistance. It was important to preserve the good name of the clan and avoid “evil gossip” about their lack of hospitality. Visitors have many opportunities for home stays with Kyrgyz families or accommodation in yurt camps that offer a glimpse into the nomadic life of yesteryear. Yurts themselves symbolize the connection between the Kyrgyz and their land. Decorated with traditional felt carpets called shyrdaks and other embroidered handiwork, yurts offer warm and comfortable shelter during cool nights in mountain meadows at high altitudes.