The rugged mountains and endless plains of Kazakhstan and Mongolia provide an epic setting to meet the Kazakh people. Retreat from the bracing temperatures into the cosy sanctuary of their felt-lined yurt homes—a UNESCO recognised demonstration of the tribe’s creative and engineering skills.
Region is Northern Asia
Climate here is Continental
The Kazaks migrate seasonally to find rich pastures for their livestock, including horses, sheep, goats, cattle, and a few camels.
In communities dotted across the country, families live in portable dome-shaped tents (called gers or yurts) built with removable wooden frames covered with felt.
Family and community are the focal points of Kazakh life. As many towns and villages are small and isolated in the vast country, reliance on others has traditionally been important for survival.
Long before Islam and other religions were introduced, the Kazakhs believed in supernatural forces of good and evil spirits.
The Kazakhs have a tradition of teaching tamed falcons and eagles to hunt. They often use music as part of the celebrations when a hunt like this has been successful.
The Kazakh language is part of the Turkic language family.
Art in this community mainly takes the form of textiles such as carpets, wall hangings and clothing. In 2014, the traditional knowledge and skills involved in making Kyrgyz and Kazakh yurts were placed on the UNESCO Intangible Heritage list.
Celebrations vary across different areas of the country, but honouring their heritage as well as values such as love and friendship are often key themes.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Kazaks lost their freedom of movement between Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan due to the establishment of borders.
Photo credit: Eagle hunter and landscape iStock.com/Oleh_Slobodeniuk
Photo credit: Eagle hunter on horse iStock.com/Oleh_Slobodeniuk
Photo credit: Eagle hunt in Mongolia iStock.com/leh_Slobodeniuk