The most valuable for a nomad: 7 treasures of the Kazakhs

NomadicCultural heritage

The concept of “Jety Kazyna” – Seven Treasures holds a special place in the ideology of the Kazakh people.

You can ignore the signs and numbers, but this doesn't make their magical properties any less, you cannot even imagine the gravity of their power over the fate of people. For a long time, in many nations, the number “seven” was considered happy and complete, full of energy and higher spirituality. Many things in religions and kazakh beliefs of the people, in art and science, in language and culture are connected with it.

The presence of the seven is felt at every step in the world around us. Remember, 7 wonders of the world, 7 basic notes in music, 7 colors of the rainbow, 7 days of the week, etc.

Kazakh people also associate the number 7 with a number of titles. (Jeti Yrys – Seven Lucks, Jetі Jargy – a Corpus of Kazakh Customary Law established by Tauke Khan in 17th century, Jetі Galam – Seven Universes, Jetі Ata – Seven Generations).

But a special place in the ideology of Kazakh people is occupied by the concept of “Jety Kazyna” – Seven Treasures. By treasure people mean the seven necessary components of life of a real human: masculinity of a young man, a beautiful and intelligent wife, a fast-footed horse, a hunting golden eagle, a faithful Kazakhstan dogs called the Tazy (Central Asian greyhound) breed, good weapons, and comprehensive knowledge. With these seven treasures, life feels complete and happy.


Why the first component of “Jetі Kazyna” is “a young man”? This is explained by the fact that a man was always the head of Kazakh families, nomads, he was an earner, a breadwinner, a protector of the clan. As Kazakhs say,  an intelligent woman (wife) brings wealth into the family. The task of a wife is not just to keep the family hearth, but also to wisely allocate the husband's prey to avoid a situation when “feast today and fast tomorrow”. Moreover, it is up to a woman to bring up children worthy of their father. The head of the family does not bring up the children – he is constantly at work, riding on his horse, hunting. The mother instructs children to respect their father, to look at his deeds, and to learn from him. That is why a beautiful companion of life should be according to "Jeti Kazyna" legendary tradition – a smart woman. This is true happiness.

By the way elders in Kazakhstan instruct their children on the necessity to know their ancestors up to the seventh generation. Seven again! Kazakhs have this "unwritten law" "Jeti Ata" (Seven Generations) that is still being passed over from generation to generation. Traditionally, Kazakhs have always been against the marriage between relatives the kinship marriage. In order to have a healthy generation and to avoid genetic diseases, it is forbidden to be related to anyone up to the seventh generation. Today, a high risk of mental and other diseases in children born in marriages between close relatives has been scientifically proven. Our ancestors acted so intuitively!

Three friends of the 'jigit' (a young man)

Three more treasures of a real man in the concept of nomads are three faithful friends of the 'jigit': a fast-footed horse, a tazy (greyhound), a hunting golden eagle. What could a man get with his bare hands? A natural predator, such as the golden eagle, is able to get hares, foxes, and even wolves!

Moreover, the Kazakhs believed that the house, where a golden eagle resides, is always protected from evil. Therefore, the wings, feathers, and paws of this bird were hung on an honorable place or above the head of the cradle. It was believed that the sacred bird protects against the evil eye and any damage, kind of serves as a talisman.

Tazy, a greyhound, was also a faithful friend at hunting. It is believed that with the abundance of tazy puppies, wealth and happiness come into the house. Nomads took care of puppies since birth, trained them and when the puppies were ready, they were released back to the wild alongside its master to assist him in hunting. Catching the first prey with the dog was a real thrill. Tazy, together with a hunting bird and a horse, were always taken to large 'toi' (celebrations) and festivals – they were the real pride of a man.

In Kazakh folklore, a horse is an indispensable companion of a man. People say “He is not a 'jigit' if he has never sat on a horse”.

Did you know that Central Asia and, particularly, Kazakhstan is considered to be the most likely place where horses were domesticated? Even today, when these animals don't have such a great significance for nomads as before, a large number of horses continue to be bred in Kazakhstan. Steppe horses remain an indispensable element of the cultural heritage and modern symbol of the country. One of the most popular ones here is the local Kazakh horse breed.

Animals of this breed are universal, equally good in all kinds of uses: as a horse for riding, as a workhorse, and a source of meat and dairy. A key feature of the Kazakh breed of kazakh horses is their high stamina and endurance, which is necessary for life in the steppes, expanding through the heat of the summer to the frost of winter. This feature makes this horse suitable for sports tournaments as well where stamina and endurance are more important than the speed of the animal.

The list of "Jetі Kazyna" concludes with good weapons (Sabers, bow and arrows, "kamshy-pyshak" – a sharp blade which was hidden in the handle of the horsewhip, etc.), which will not fail in combat; and comprehensive knowledge that will help him to take the right path in life and make wise decisions.

Of course, today it is impossible for everyone to have a personal horse, a tazy dog, a golden eagle – a civilization, city life dictates their own rules and regulations. But there are guardians of these traditions! Most often it is hereditary berkutchi (a falconer), hereditary hunters and riders. Owing to them and their initiatives, we have got the Association of National Sports in Kazakhstan, including hunting with hunting birds; various national events also happen upon their initiative – falconer festivals, ethnic festivals, art symposia, and sports where horses are an inseparable part of national games like baiga, kokpar, kyz-kuu. Owing to such people, anyone can be closer to the nomadic culture of Kazakh people. You only need to decide what activity is the closest to your heart and then you may start your trip!

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