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"7 faces of the great steppe"

Keeping the past
creating the future

Article Nursultan Nazarbayev “Seven Facets of the Great Steppe”

Space is the measure of all things, time is the measure of all events. When the horizons of space and time merge, national history begins. And this is not just a beautiful aphorism.

In fact, if you think about the history of the German, Italian or Indian people, the question of the relationship between the territory and the great achievements of these peoples during a thousand-year history quite rightly arises. Of course, Ancient Rome and modern Italy are not the same, but the Italians are justly proud of their roots. The ancient Goths and modern Germans are also not one and the same people, but they are all part of Germany’s vast historical heritage. Ancient India with its rich polyethnic culture and the modern Indian people are naturally considered as one unique civilization, continuing its development in an uninterrupted stream of history.

And this is the right approach, allowing you to understand your origins, and indeed the entire national history in all its depth and complexity.

The history of Kazakhstan should also be understood from the height of modern science, and not by its separate fragments. There are convincing arguments for this.


Briefly about the main thing

Culture of horsemanship

For the first time, the domestication of horses by a human took place on the territory of modern Kazakhstan, as evidenced by excavations of the Botai settlement in the north of the country.

The basic components of modern clothing go back to the ancient era of the steppe civilisation. The culture of horsemanship gave rise to optimal clothing for the rider-warrior. Striving for convenience and practicality during riding, our ancestors for the first time divided clothing into upper and lower parts. Therefore they invented the first types of trousers.

In an effort to improve the control of the horse while riding, the people of the steppe invented the high saddle and stirrups. Innovations allowed the rider to sit confidently on a horse and, even when moving quickly, to more efficiently use his weapon - a bow, a spear, a sword.

Our ancestors brought to perfection archery at a gallop - it changed the design of the weapon: it became composite, more comfortable to use and more deadly, and the arrows got plumage and a metal tip, piercing armor.

Ancient metallurgy of the Great Steppe

The invention of methods for producing metals opened a new historical era and forever changed the course of human development. The Kazakh land, rich in diverse metal ores, also became one of the first centres of establishment of metallurgy. The centres of mining production and smelting of bronze, copper, lead, iron, silver and gold, and the manufacture of sheet iron arose in the ancient antiquity on the lands of Central, Northern and Eastern Kazakhstan.

Golden Man

A sensational discovery for world science, which made it possible to take a fresh look at our origins, was the Golden Man, found in Kazakhstan in 1969 in Issyk, referred to in the circles of art scholars as “Kazakhstan’s Tutankhamun”.

The warrior told us a lot. Our ancestors created the highest-level artistic creations that still amaze the imagination. Skillful golden guise of a warrior indicates confident mastery of the ancient masters of gold processing techniques. It also revealed a rich mythology, reflecting power and aesthetics of the Steppe civilization.

So the steppe men exalted the personality of the leader, elevated him to the rank of a sun-like deity. The luxurious decoration of the burial introduced us to the intellectual traditions of the ancestors. On one of the silver cups found near the warrior, scribbled marks were found - traces of the oldest writing ever found in Central Asia.

Animal style

Our ancestors lived in complete harmony with the outside world and considered themselves an inseparable part of nature. This key principle of being formed the worldview and values ​​of the peoples of the Great Steppe. The ancient inhabitants of Kazakhstan had a highly developed culture - they had their own writing and mythology.

The most striking element of their heritage, a reflection of the artistic originality and richness of spiritual content is the "art of animal style." The use of images of animals in everyday life was a symbol of the interrelation of man and nature, pointing to the spiritual guides of the steppe people.

They preferred images of predators, mostly felines. It is most likely not by chance that the snow leopard, a rare and noble representative of the local fauna, has become one of the symbols of sovereign Kazakhstan.

At the same time, the animal style reflects the highest production skills of our ancestors - artistic carvings and the technique of working with metals are well known: the smelting and casting of copper and bronze, the methods for the complex manufacture of gold sheets.

Cradle of the Turkic world

Altai is of great importance for the history of the Kazakhs and other peoples of Eurasia. From time immemorial, these majestic mountains not only decorated the lands of Kazakhstan, but were also the cradle of the Turkic peoples. It was here, in the middle of the 1st millennium, where the Turkic world was born, and a new milestone was reached in the Great Steppe.

Having mastered the space within wide geographical boundaries, the Turkic peoples managed to create a symbiosis of nomadic and settled civilizations, which led to the flourishing of medieval cities, which became centres of art, science and world trade. For example, medieval Otyrar gave humanity one of the greatest minds of world civilization, Abu Nasr al-Farabi, while in Turkestan, Khoja Ahmet Yassawi, one of the great spiritual leaders of the Turkic peoples, lived and worked.

The Great Silk Road

The unique geographical location of Kazakhstan - in the very centre of the Eurasian continent - has contributed to the emergence of transit “corridors” between different countries and civilizations since ancient times. Starting from the turn of our era, these land routes were transformed into the Great Silk Road system - a transcontinental network of trade and cultural ties between East and West, North and South of Greater Eurasia.

It was during the rule of the Turkic peoples in Central Eurasia that the Great Silk Road reached its peak and promoted economic prosperity and cultural growth on an international scale.

Kazakhstan - the birthplace of apples and tulips

It is scientifically proven that the foothills of the Alatau are the "historic homeland" of apples and tulips. It is from here that these modest, but significant for the whole world plants gradually spread to all countries. And now Kazakhstan is the keeper of the progenitor of all the Earth’s apple trees — the Sievers apple tree. It was this tree that gave the world one of the most common fruits of our time.  And as a symbol of this long history of the popular fruit, one of the most beautiful cities in the south of our country is called “Almaty”.

In the Chu-Ili Mountains, we still see in its primal form pearls of Kazakhstan’s flora – the Regel tulips. These beautiful plants appeared on our land in the strip of deserts and foothills of the Tien Shan. From the Kazakh land, these modest but unusual flowers gradually spread around the world, conquering the hearts of many peoples with their beauty.

Today there are more than 3 thousand varieties of cultivated tulips in the world, and most of them are “descendants” of our local flowers. In Kazakhstan, there are 35 types of tulips.


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