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Festival «Kokmaisa» 

In order to develop and promote the tourist cluster of Central Kazakhstan, the PF «Uly tagzym» jointly with the National Historical, Cultural and Natural Reserve-Museum «Ulytau»  holds  ethnic festivals  about the spring rituals of horse breeders.

During the period of the ethnofestival in 2012-2019, representatives of 16 republican and regional media took part in the festival, for the first time in the history of Ulytau, tourists from the USA, France, Bahrain, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Central Asia, representatives of UNESCO, National Geographic TV companies, Discovering Kazakhstan, Turan-TV and “Okhota i Rybalka” from Russia.

At the same time, in order to popularize the festival, by order of the UNESCO Bureau in South Korea, Kazakhfilm JSC filmed a 20-minute documentary film, and the Ministry of Culture and Sports of the Republic of Kazakhstan published a colorful photo album.

         The theme of the ethnofestival is of great interest to researchers and in 2018 it was included in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity under the title «Traditional spring festive rites of Kazakh horse breeders.»

Traditions and customs are the precious heritage of every nation, and one of these traditions aimed at strengthening the unity of the country, along with the celebration of Nauryz and Ait, is “Kokmaisa” (Kymyzmuryndyk) — a ceremony of treating the first kumys.

The purpose of the ethnofestival: Popularization of the history of the nomads of the Eurasian steppe.

Ethno festival «Terisakkan spring»

             Terisakkan in direct translation means «the river flows in reverse». Some people understand this and therefore ask: «Is it true?» In fact, the Türks’ word «teris» means the north pole, the north side. If the main nine rivers of the Ulytau flow to the west, south and east, then only the Terisakkan river flows to the north and flows into the Arctic Ocean through the rivers: Yessil, Tobol, Yertysh, Obb.

             In the Eurasian space holiday «Matching a Stallion» has survived only in the village of Terisakkan. Of course, mares are milked in spring and in other places, but here in Terisakkan, on the land of Ulytau, it is held as a festive event, like a spring festival. Most likely, the roots of this holiday go back to the distant Bronze Age, in the cult of fertility.

             The villagers start preparing for this event in winter. The herd owners start looking for a worthy stallion for their herd in advance. There are herds in a relatively small village, only 50 houses, more than anywhere else in the Ulytau district: 23 herds, and each of them has at least 25 heads. Many woo the owners of the best stallions, often invite them to visit, give gifts, make friends, try to agree in advance about the exchange of stallions.

             The fact is that in the herd every two years they are forced to change stallions, since they do not mate with their pets. This is one of the many best qualities of horses. Sometimes they are looking for stallions in neighboring villages, and some go to woo even to the Turgai steppes.

             And, finally, when the distribution of stallions is completed, the owners close it in a kennel in two months and feed it. On the day of the wedding day, the stallion is launched into the herd. But up to this point, there are several rituals and obligatory ritual actions. Perhaps in other places it happens differently, but in the village of Terisakkan the following rituals are performed. Horses are brought in from the pasture. People gather: the elderly, young, children, daughters-in-law, sons-in-law, grandchildren, in general, «from small to great.» Dastarkhan (table) is served. It must contain yellow butter, boiled sour cream, baursaks, flat cakes, ayran. Aksakal gives a blessing. Begins «noctalau», that is, they put bridles on foals. Then they are tied to a long rope, fixed to the ground with iron stakes. In the herd of foals there are on average 15 heads. The women coat the foals’ tail and iron stakes holding the rope with oil. At the same time, they say “baylar kop bolsyn, aq mol bolsyn”  “let there be more rich people, milk will increase”.

             The foals are then brought to the mares one by one and fed, after which the mares are milked. When the foals are brought to the mother, the base of the tail is scratched by the foals. But no one could explain the meaning of this action. In life, we do many actions automatically, without thinking about the meaning.

             Finally, the most important event of the holiday is when the stallion is released. He energetically rushes into the herd, announcing his presence with a loud neigh. It sniffs the ground around the herd, determining the readiness of females for mating. But apparently in horses, like in humans, females do not immediately admit them, demanding gentle grooming. All people «from great to small» are watching the event of «horse love» with excitement, worried about their favorites. Indeed, the safety and growth of the herd depends on the stallion. Horses are the only wealth of the Terisakans. There is no production in the village and for the last few years there has been no grain harvest due to drought.

             The peculiarity of the festival in Terisakkan is that the «Biye bailau» rite has been held here for centuries, usually in early May. The entire population of Terisakkan participates in the ceremony. This rite is associated with the ancient cult of fertility, and its ritual archaic was preserved in the Eurasian steppe space only in the village of Terisakkan in the form of a traditional spring festival of nomads. Here the cult of the horse stands out. Sacred horse worship has been known from archaeological evidence since the Bronze Age. Horses of Terisakkan are unusual in their beauty and color.


The Republic of Kazakhstan
Karaganda region


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