An emergence of Kazakh nomadic traditions
National games and holidays will always have a great social significance. Since the ancient times, they have been constantly changing and evolving in accordance with the way of life and social relations of our people. It is no coincidence that entertainment, such as military exercises, worship and magical powers, is gradually becoming a sport. The spiritual, cultural and material features of the people were also reflected in Kazakh national games. The type, theme, place and time of entertainment were largely shaped by the nomadic way of life.
National games – a source of education
National games and entertainment have a special educational and ethical-aesthetic significance. Military sports, that were born from the military scenes, educate the younger generation to patriotism, agility and courage. A formation of military games was born out of necessity and developed in accordance with the military traditions of the country. Also, the benefits of the skills of Kazakh people, trained in peacetime games on horseback, were seen during the battle. Games that required skill and dexterity, such as competitions, turns, and archery, allowed to improve the future soldier in all aspects. Horse races from the Thai race to the chaotic race, that escaped and vomited, helped to adjust the racehorses from the wind. Accordingly, our nation has a special love for horses and accumulated the centuries of experience in horse care and grooming. It was impossible to imagine the daily life and entertainment of Kazakhs without horses. One of our national games, that has not lost its significance until today, is race. There are several types of race that have come down to us.
Alaman Baiga is a long-distance, twenty-five, fifty, and even a hundred-kilometer horse race. Natural obstacles, such as cliffs and water, can be encountered on the way to such a distance race. This race has been considered as a popular type of competition since the ancient times. Alaman Baiga has been created in order to prepare horses for the long journey, nomadic life, hostage, as well as to improve their breed. Other than this, Alaman Baiga is one of the main competitions, which is held on big holidays. A number of participating horses is not limited and their breed is not taken into account. A special role is played by the tactical skills of the rider during the race. A rider takes into account his agility, horsepower, and speed. Before the horse was included in the race, a great attention has been paid to the breed and body parts. A horse with a soft gait, that prevented a normal day`s journey, has been chosen for the Alaman Baiga and hot-blooded, lazy horses were taken for other races during the race. Our people were careful not to look at the horse, and they kept the horse hidden from prying eyes and covered it completely before and after the start of the race. He wore a flame, a tail, and an owl. Typically, a rider is selected from the eight to fourteen-year-olds. The rider was also dressed in a white shirt and a red scarf. The prize of the race is awarded depending on the number of riders participating in the race and the financial capacity of its organizers. In Kazakh history, there were times when up to a hundred or two hundred horses had been bet on the main race in the big races, held under the auspices of well-known rich people. In addition, the prize includes the livestock, yurts, silver and other valuables.
Kunan Baiga is a competition, where the horses under the age of three can take part. The distance was from one to two kilometers.
Donen Baiga is a race, where the horses under the age of four take part. The distance is between two and a half, and five kilometers.
Toq Baiga is a race, where the horses under the age of five or older take part. The distance is from five to eight kilometers.
Zhorga race is a race, organized on the plains from two to ten kilometers.
Horseback riding games do not end there. Also, each of them has its own conditions and rules. By the way, the competition is a fight of horsemen, one of the oldest military games that is organized on big holidays. This game is also found in neighboring Kyrgyzstan.
Audaryspaq is a type of wrestling on horseback in order to overthrow an opponent on the horseback. Only well-armed, well-mannered and skilled people can take part in Audaryspaq. On behalf of each village or tribe, wrestlers on the horseback used to warm up the game during the games.
A shoot is a form of military sports in which a horse is shot with a rifle or a bow while riding.
Kokpar is the most popular and still national game of our nation. This game is also found in other nations of Central Asia. The rules of the game are as follows: players of kokpar from each tribe or each village go around the square, and when a kokpar is thrown in the middle, it is picked up by someone who is good at it. Then the race begins. An aim of the game is to deliver the kokpar to the first designated boiler, that is the goat named in the game. In order to snatch the prize, the contestants try to steal the goat and the others chase after them. The participant tries to press the plate well on the page, where he received the kokpar. During the competition, in order not to give the kokpar to the opponents, he holds the kokpar with both hands and puts the rest under it. It is not easy to snatch a kokpar from a strong kokpar, and the strong riders drag the kokpar along with their horses, and only when they fall on the horse they release the kokpar.
Also, one of the most popular wrestling among the people is Kazakh wrestling. Famous wrestlers have competed in this type of wrestling, regardless of their weight. This freestyle wrestling has its own peculiarities, such as kicking and jerking. An opponent's knee is considered defeated in Kazakh wrestling. This means generosity on the one hand and not to gain control over the loser on the other hand. A winner was awarded by the title of wrestler. We know that the fame of our ancestors Baluan Sholak and Kazhymukan came from this Kazakh wrestling as well. Nowadays, a national championship and international competitions in this type of sport are held and organized regularly.
In addition, the entertainment of young people, such as “Kyz kuu” (chasing the girls), “Altybakan”, “Aqsuyek”, has its own peculiarities. If a skill of guys, who play on horseback, is shown very well during the game, then you can see Kazakh girls who ride on horseback and beat the enemy in this game.
The games like “Altybakan” and “Aqsuyek” have provided an opportunity for young people to get acquainted and play with their faces.
Altybakan is a Kazakh swing that has six poles with a strong rope. A horizontal beam is placed on it and a double-winged rope is attached to it. Altybakan had been formed in the evening. There is a girl and a boy who swing on Altybakan and start singing merrily. If a guy can't join to a girl's song, it's considered as a big mistake and he has to pay a penalty for it. The shakers of Altybakan continue to sing the song. And young people share their talents on Altybakan.
And “Aqsuyek” is an outdoor entertainment with the participation of girls and boys. A game "Aqsuyek" is played on a moonlit summer night. You need a large bone marrow in order to start the game. The participants of the game are divided into two groups, each group marks its own dome. After the game organizer throws the bone away, people from both groups start looking for the bone. A finder runs to his group's grave. Those players, who lost in the game, grab the bone and try to take it to their graves. A losing team must sing, dance, or perform something else. It is often attended by young people from neighboring villages. This game teaches young people to distinguish orientation, size and run fast during dark times.
In addition, to youth entertainment, children's games are also popular among our nation. In particular, the games like blind, zinc-zinc, cauldron were played there.
One of the favorite games of boys is asyk. This game is attended by young children, sometimes young people and adults. Archaeological data show that the game “Asyk” is widespread in all parts of the Kazakh land. The types of asyk are divided into different games, depending on the type of game, like alshy, tayke, buk, shik, onga or ompa, khantalapay, five stones, atbakyl, twenty-one and so on. An asyk, money and various prizes were provided for the lottery.
Another one of the most complex intellectual games among the national games of our nation is an ancient board game, called “Togyzkumalak”. A game uses a rectangular wooden board consisting of eighteen long nests "Family" of nine in each of the two rows. Between the rows, there is another large nest "pot" in the shape of a circle. Each of the two players has eighty-one small balls, and nine are placed in the slot. Players take turns. A winner is the player who collects a large number of small balls from his opponent's nest into his pot. The game was so interesting and popular that enthusiasts have organized “Togyzkumalak” without a board. In this case, the participants of the game continue to play by digging nests in the ground. Nowadays, national and international championships on the “Togyzkumalak” are organized and established as a national sport. Ethnic Kazakhs around the world take part at international competitions.
Sometimes the entertainment was attended by adults who were free, open and courageous. A researcher J.Kh.Karmysheva expressed her opinion about New Year's game of the country, that is located in the middle of the Syrdarya River: “According to the short stories of the narrator, some of the entertainment of Nauryz was held in a special place in the past. One form of solitary play was for the brother-in-law and the mother-in-law to meet their daughters-in-law, observing the ritual of invisibility. When the parents-in-law and daughter-in-law ran away from each other out of embarrassment, they would chase after them again. This game, that was probably organized for fun, was born from the opportunity to have open meetings between married tribes and celebrate public entertainment together, when life is new. This is because an old law on group marriages, in which women and men were not allowed to meet for a certain period of time, came into force and became clear.”
Kazakh national games and competitions, that have become the love of the people, are considered as an integral part of society, family and holidays. The games depict the realities of life in relation to the customs and environment. For example, the food race affects the health, work and other skills of the younger generation.
A holiday in the sense of a product
National holidays associated with special events are also important in society. A beginning of the year in the Eastern people, that is from March 21 to March 22, is considered as the day of the equinox in spring season. Nauryz and its rituals were originally based on the Zoroastrian faith. Kazakh people celebrate the Nauryz holiday, that is celebrated by all the people of Central and front Asia, on the most luxurious level.
Nauryz holiday is closely connected with Kazakh people not only by agriculture, but also by nomadic and semi-nomadic way of life. A concept of the product comes first in spring holiday. Based on the belief that the dead will be resurrected, he had high hopes for the spring season. It is greeted with a variety of entertainment, traditional dishes and organized at the level of a national holiday, every year.
A concept of product is a general phenomenon. It is reflected in different forms, regardless of the geographical location, economic activity, social status of each population.
In addition to the spring holiday, one of the largest holidays in Kazakh people is the transition from winter to summer and from autumn to the winter, which has a special place in the nomadic life of the people. Girls and boys start moving. Others follow them, equating their possessions, yurts, and burdens with the livestock. Upon arrival at the new settlement, entertainment was provided until late at night.
Kazakh people celebrate this religious holiday twice in a year, like the other Islamic countries. They are: Eid al-Fitr, that is straightly celebrated after fasting month, and Eid al-Adha, that is offered seventy days later.
Donations are made in cash or in other forms of gift on these days. After thirty days of fasting, three days of Eid al-Fitr begin. Eid al-Fitr is a holiday full of kindness and mercy. Fasting and prayers are held in mosques, alms are distributed to the poor people, each family bakes seven cakes and distributes them to the acquaintances and neighbors. On the day of Eid, people say "Happy Eid!" and invite each other to the taste. And the animals are being sacrificed during Kurban Ait. Kurban Ait holiday starts in the morning. A morning Eid prayer is performed in the first instance. Then, a sacrifice is the main sign of the day. According to the rules of Islam religion, the body of the sacrificial animal must be healthy. One-third of the sacrificial meat is distributed to the poor people, orphans and widows. During the three-days of Kurban Ait holiday, a Muslim man sets the table, visits the guests and goes from house to house.
A celebration of the New Year by nomadic cattle breeders as a continuation of traditions, associated with the concept of production, has led to the performance of various traditions and rituals. Nauryz usually began with a fight between a girl and a boy on the theme of "spring and winter" and ended by the public game. Various competitions are organized for men and women on this day. A victory of women in any competition is very popular, because they believe that next year will be successful. At the same time, in ancient times, the Kazakhs, like other peoples, valued life as a symbol of rich product, that started with a woman. These facts prove that the superstitions and beliefs performed during Nauryz holiday are deeply rooted in antiquity.
Nauryz is a national holiday. On this day, a person's age and social status are not taken into account. Young people can take an active part in the holiday and its entertainment. The girls prepare a special "Uyikyashar" dish for their favorite boys during Nauryz holiday. After eating this dish, the gathered young people do not sleep all night and greet the morning with various entertainments.
Traditional national games such as kokpar, kures, kyz kuu, altybakan, arkan tartu are organized during the first days of March. The competitions are often organized in groups. That is, one group depicts "Summer" and another group depicts "Winter" seasons.
There will be a lot of supporters of the first group of participants, because there is a belief that their victory will bring great success. This belief is the result of eternal dualism, such as life and death, good and bad, hot and cold, preserved in the customs of the people.