Posts tagged Botai

Photos of horses and “Mighty Horsemen” in Kazakhstan

I already have my Kazakhstan 2011 calendar which is already out in July of 2010!  Published by Eagilik Public Fund in Astana, Kazakhstan, you can find out more about the 12 photos they featured for each month.  (ask about how to get your own copy of it by emailing The front of this calendar has a horseman on the steppes of Kazakhstan.

The following information is taken from this calendar, I’m not sure who their source is, but I think it is Martin YK Lee who also took the photos for the calendar.

“Kazakhs have traditionally been, and still are, excellent horsemen.  It is said that in the past, Kazakh children learned to ride before they walked.  Historians believe that horses were first domesticated 5,500 years ago by the Botai people in Northern Kazakhstan.  Between the 6th and 2nd BC, the Sakas (believed to be one of the ancestors of the Kazakhs) inhabited the lands of today’s Central and South Asia.  The Sakas were outstanding horsemen, and were the first to master horseback archery while riding at full tilt.

Today horses are still an important part of Kazakh life.  Horses are used as working animals, especially in the countryside.  Fermented mare’s milk (koumiss) is a popular local drink, and is also believed to have medicinal properties.  Horse meat is a local delicacy, and is an ingredient in several national dishes.

Horses are also used for sport and entertainment.  One traditional sport is Kokpar, an intense game played on horseback in which two teams of players compete to carry a headless goat carcass into a goal.  Serious players train intensively for years, and playing well also requires specially trained horses that know to stop still when a rider is thrown or to gallop forcefully when their rides gets hold of the calf…”

These three photos were taken by me in different locations but the theme of horses runs strong here in Kazakhstan though you will not see them in the cities of Almaty or Astana.  That’s where cars are king of the road. The last photo is of a bride being chased down by the groom.

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