Last August, we, the members of PPIA (Akira, Yuki and Chieko), conducted a survey in a summer camp in the village of Minbulak, Naryn Oblast, Kyrgyz Republic. There are many things I would like to report, but here I would like to briefly describe the situation in the area using photos.

Naryn Oblast is a region of the Kyrgyz Republic where pastoralism is the main activity. About 80% of the country’s land area is mountainous. We left Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, for summer camps around the village of Minbulak in Naryn Oblast.

It was very hot during our stay at the summer camp. It was located at an altitude of around 2,800 meters, just like Bayan-Ulgii Province in western Mongolia, where I usually conduct my research. However, it snows in August in the summer camps of Bayan-Ulgii, whereas the climate was completely different from that of the summer camps in Naryn because of the lower latitude.

Unfortunately, our stay was during the rainy season, and it rained almost every day. Nevertheless, the scenery that spread all over the area after the rain was very beautiful, and we were captivated by it.

Kyrgyz handicrafts are said to closely resemble those of the Kazakhs. However, of the folk tools we saw during our survey, rugs made of fur had never been seen in Kazakh society before, and were virtually unknown in the literature on Kyrgyz handicrafts. Our hosts also showed us different kinds of rugs.

In the Kyrgyz pastoralist community, the structure of tent dwellings has changed since the 2010s, and the folk tools used seem to have changed along with it. (The report on the tools recorded during the research can be found here/Japanese).

Our host family was very kind and served us delicious meals every day. The food culture is also interesting. The food culture is very similar to that of Kazakh society, which I have studied for many years. However, the Kyrgyz people also practiced ways of eating that are not seen in Kazakh society, such as mixing meat broth soup with kumis and drinking it, or adding noodles to besh barmak(Stewed sheep meat) and eating it by hand.

The host family also made kumis. We have never had kumis with a slightly smoky aroma in Mongolia, and We are also interested in the process of making it (please wait for Yuki’s report on kumis).

We also asked whether living conditions had changed before and after the pandemic. We found, however, that the impact of the subsequent snow damage was greater than that of the pandemic itself. We felt that further research is needed to determine what measures the residents of this area have taken to cope with global-scale environmental changes.

We plan to conduct another survey of the same households this summer. I can hardly wait for the summer.

Blog and Photos by Chieko Hirota


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