Biye baylau (‘tethering mares’) -Traditional spring festive rites of the Kazakh horse breeders marks_1
  • Manage No, Sortation, Country, Writer ,Date, Copyright
    Manage No EE00001336
    Country Kazakhstan
    ICH Domain Social practices, rituals, festive events Knowledge and practices about nature and the universe
    Geographical location of Terisakkan Village 48° 40' 0" N / 66° 30' 0" E. It is situated in Ulytau District of Karaganda Province, in the remote area of vast steppe landscape. Terisakkan Village is situated in Ulytau District of Karaganda Province, in the remote area of vast steppe landscape. The element is observed in some other areas of all regions of the country (however, it is hard to identify the initial location of its practicing). The element is practiced also outside Kazakhstan by some Kazakh ethnic communities in Turkey, China and Mongolia. In different locations it may show some differences in details. In addition, ICH elements related to the first koumiss blessing and celebration are practiced also by other people - Kyrgyz (Kymyz Buzdu), Mongol (Naadam), and Yakut, or Saha (Yssyah).
    Year of Designation 2015
Description Kazakh spring horse-breeding rites mark the end of the old and the beginning of the new yearly horse-breeding cycle. Rooted in the traditional knowledge of nature and in the millennia-aged close relations between man and horse, these rites involve skills inherited from the nomadic ancestors and adapted to the present day reality. The festive rites compiles of the triade: (1) .‘Biye baylau’; (2) ‘Ayghyr kosu’; and (3) ‘Kymyz muryndyk’. ‘Biye baylau’ (literally, ‘tethering mares’), the ancient 'first milking'; rite encompassing the separation of mares and foals from herds, tethering them, greasing ropes and pegs, milking mares, greasing and smoking vessels for koumiss, fermenting the first-day milk, and celebrating with songs, dances and games. The preparations go all year round (cutting wool and horse hair, getting good stallions for herds, weaving ropes and foal slips, repairing ware, cutting juniper for smoking vessels, cooking ritual food). Blessed by the elders, the ‘first milking’ day comes in early May, when mares have foaled and grass grown. In total the rites take about 3 weeks until the koumiss sharing ceremonies, taking place in every house of the village, are over.
Social and cultural significance A triad of the horse-breeding spring festive rites is regarded by their bearers as the most important and long-awaited annual event and as their ‘ata kasip’ (ancestral heritage) that all of them know and appreciate from very early childhood. Preceded by the year-long preparations, it comes with first spring warm, flowers and foals, bringing a common joy of life and the gratitude to nature and to each other for a survival of people and horses through long cold winter. It opens a new yearly cycle of life reproduction and a new happy season of the favourite sacred drink, and people believe that all illnesses go away and all troubles are behind. These days are closely related to the cult of ancestors, and many ritual details are addressed to them to secure their help and support. People observe the rites and related rules together to provide the abundance of milk and the fertility of herds. This event strengthens their friendship, mutual understanding and support, unity and social cohesion, and the sense of identity shared not only with relatives, friends and neighbours, but also with much larger community of their compatriots.
Transmission method The knowledge and skills of the element, along with all those related to the traditional horse breeding, is continuously transmitted within families – from grandparents and parents to children and grandchildren, and also from the eldest children to the younger ones. It still remains the only way of transmission and sharing knowledge and practical experience directly during joint preparatory and performing activities of the element. The youngsters learn many things from very childhood through doing them under the supervision of the adults. It is also important that the adults from the horse holding families often pass their knowledge and skills also to the children of their neighbours. Being transmitted from generations to generations, the element remains sustainable but not ‘frozen’. While its rites feature remnants of ancient cults and beliefs inherited from nomadic ancestors, it proves to be well-adapted to the present-time way and conditions of life. It survived despite of the fact that the past generations of its bearers in the 20th century went through a forced transition from the nomadic mode of life to the settled one, and their pastures were considerably reduced in favour of agriculture, preventing them and their herds from seasonal migrations. In response, the traditional form of horse breeding has been adapted by its bearers to the changed conditions through some alterations to its technologies that had an impact also on cultural traditions. For instance, the present ‘ayghyr kosu’ rite appeared following those alterations.
Community The horse breeders and their families living in Ulytau District of Karaganda Province are recognized as a community of the element bearers. These are 9 representatives of Terisakkan community (including 2 women). The community incudes also two representatives of the local history museum and prof. Akhmet Toktabai, expert in Kazakh horse breeding. Other residents of Terisakkan village are always involved in ICH element safeguarding. The wider community of the Kazakh horse breeders and others in Kazakhstan who also practice and/or appreciate this element as a source of identity and/or participate in its events.
Type of UNESCO List Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
Incribed year in UNESCO List 2018
Information source
Kazakhstan National Committee for Intangible Cultural Heritage

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