The yurt, known as the bozuy, holds a tender place in Kyrgyzstan hearts and shepherds still set up yurts in the mountains in summer to graze their herds; in towns the bozuy is erected in back gardens for celebrations. Remaining essentially the same for thousands of years, the superbly portable yurt can be erected swiftly and dismantled in an hour.
A framework of poplar poles is fixed with rawhide straps and lined by a mat of women reeds (chiy), then covered with layers of felt. Inside, space is allocated according to tradition: the left hand side for the man’s horse and hunting gear and the right hand side for the woman’s domestic utensils. At the back lie folded blankets and mattresses; the higher pile, the wealthier family.
Hospitality is an integral part of Kyrgyz culture and nomadic tradition. The Kyrgyz have saying – “a guest is sent from God” – and visitors are often overwhelmed by generosity. Food is lavished upon guests; tea is served with homemade jams and cream, toasts are raised with cup of kumyz (fermented mare’s milk); laghman priveds a heartwarming mutton stewl and the dish of honour is the elaborately prepared besh-barmak (‘five fingers’).