FOLKLORE SHOWS IN KYRGYZSTAN
During a tour of Kyrgyzstan, physical activities such as horseback riding and climbing, scenic tours, and visiting historical sites are all popular. However, a tour of Kyrgyzstan that didn’t include opportunities for cultural insight would be a travesty. Kyrgyzstan’s personality isn’t only wrapped up in its beauty or landscape, but the people that call it home. Folklore shows are made available to travelers during certain tours for just this reason.
WHAT’S INVOLVED IN A FOLKLORE SHOW IN KYRGYZSTAN?
Several elements of Kyrgyz culture are included in folk shows revolving around artistic storytelling. Since Kyrgyzstan passed down its history, stories, and legends orally all throughout the centuries, it’s a practice kept alive to this day.
At a folklore show you’ll witness skilled storytellers (manaschi) recite portions of the epic of Manas, an epic poem about the legendary hero Manas that united the 40 tribes of Kyrgyzstan. Of course you won’t hear the whole epic recited; the Manas Epic is 20 times longer than Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey put together! However, some men have indeed committed the entire epic to memory and can recite it from beginning to end.
- KOMUZ PLAYERS
You’ll also hear concerts given by Kyrgyz musicians playing the Kyrgyz national instrument, the komuz. The komuz is a 3-stringed played in much the same position as a guitar. It’s made from a single piece of wood, usually apricot or juniper, with different tunings depending on the style of song. In many popular tunings, the middle string is tuned to the highest pitch. Musicians show their virtuosity on the komuz by playing it in different positions (upside down, over the shoulder, etc.). The komuz can be played standalone, accompanied by voice, or group.
- KYRGYZ DANCING
Traditional Kyrgyz dancing is often displayed by a group of young women dancing together in unison. They wear traditional Kyrgyz clothing that, used for a dance, includes long dresses and hats that are extremely colorful. Kyrgyz dancing is characterized by beautiful, graceful movements.
ARE FOLKLORE SHOWS INCLUDED IN THE PRICE OF TOURS?
Sometimes Kyrgyzstan folklore shows are included in tour prices, but they are usually offered as an optional extra during tours for travelers to take advantage of if they wish. When offered as an extra activity, there is an additional cost.
WHERE ARE FOLKLORE SHOWS HELD IN KYRGYZSTAN?
The most common venues for folklore shows are on the shores of Lake Song Kul (a high elevation alpine lake located amidst mountain pastureland used by nomads), near Burana Tower (an ancient Silk Road minaret located not far from Bishkek), and the Ruh Ordo Cultural Center (located in the city of Cholpon Ata on the northern shore of Lake Issyk Kul).