Kazakhstan Culture

Culture of Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan has a well-articulated culture based on the nomadic pastoral economy of the inhabitants. Islam was introduced to Kazakhstan in the 7th to 12th centuries. Besides lamb, many other traditional foods retain symbolic value in Kazakh culture. Kazakh culture is largely influenced by the Turkic nomadic lifestyle.

Because animal husbandry was central to the Kazakhs' traditional lifestyle, most of their nomadic practices and customs relate in some way to livestock. Traditional curses and blessings invoked disease or fecundity among animals, and good manners required that a person ask first about the health of a man's livestock when greeting him and only afterward inquire about the human aspects of his life.

The traditional Kazakh dwelling is the yurt, a tent consisting of a flexible framework of willow wood covered with varying thicknesses of felt. The open top permits smoke from the central hearth to escape; temperature and draft can be controlled by a flap that increases or decreases the size of the opening. A properly constructed yurt can be cooled in summer and warmed in winter, and it can be disassembled or set up in less than an hour. The interior of the yurt has ritual significance; the right side is generally reserved for men and the left for women. Yurts are also frequently used as a decorative motif in restaurants and other public buildings.

Today's Kazakhstan is a modern culture, thriving in the post-Soviet era. The traditional Kazakh lifestyle has blended with influences from Western societies, as well as those from Kazakhstan's Russian and Chinese neighbors.