KAZAKHS traditionally lived as nomads. To this day, some Kazakh herders move their animals to different pastures according to the season. They spend the summer in cooler highland grazing lands. Then, as the snowy winter approaches, they bring their flocks down to the warmer lowlands.
Some Kazakhs live in modern developed cities. Yet, many traditions, foods, and handicrafts reflect their ancestors’ nomadic way of life. Kazakhs enjoy a rich heritage of poetry, songs, and music played on local musical instruments.
The yurt—the traditional portable house of nomads—has become a symbol of man living in harmony with nature. Shepherds still favor the yurt, and urban Kazakhs often use them for special events. Yurts also serve as comfortable tourist accommodations. The interior of a yurt can be a showplace for Kazakh women’s diverse embroidering, weaving, and carpet-making skills.
Rural Kazakh families treasure their horses. There are at least 21 Kazakh words for horse, each with its own shade of meaning, and more than 30 words and expressions to describe the colors of a horse’s coat. A fine horse still makes a costly and cherished gift. In the countryside, boys learn to ride from an early age.
A traditional Kazakh meal should always include meat and is usually not spicy. Among Kazakhs’ favorite drinks are koumiss, which is made from mare’s milk and is said to provide many health benefits, and rich, slightly sour shubat, made from camel’s milk.
The branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Almaty welcomes visitors and is open for tours.