A Semiotic Analysis of the Yurt, Clothing, and Food Eating Habits in Kazakh Traditional Cultures

By Nurlykhan Aljanova, Karlygash M. Borbasova and Shamshiya S. Rysbekova.

Published by The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: December 14, 2015 $US5.00

The development and preservation of national cultures requires adequate forms for archiving not just the historical traditions, but also the values and communal significations associated to them. It also depends on the effectiveness of dissemination and other mechanisms that give international visibility to a particular culture. Kazakh society has encountered several problems in achieving this goal. In its most recent past, Kazakh traditions were assimilated to those of the Soviet Union. Since independence, the government of Kazakhstan has encouraged a number of research programs and activities that seek to recover the pre-Soviet heritage. Other difficulties arise from the fact that Kazakh culture was nomadic. In the absence of the constructions proper of urban cultures, Kazakh nomad lifestyle allows the study of semiotic patterns preserved in musical traditions, oral legends, household artefacts, clothing, and housing, all of which reflect the mythological consciousness of these ancient cultures, their nomad lifestyle, values, behavior and world view. Thus, this paper explores the semiotic codes behind the design and installation of yurts (the circular dwellings of nomad groups), Kazakh clothing and finally, food traditions. Our aim is to bring attention to the cultural importance of nomadic groups in Central Asia and their role in shaping the consciousness of Kazakhstan’s national identity today.In the absence of the constructions proper of urban cultures, Kazakh nomad lifestyle allows for the study of semiotic patterns preserved in musical traditions, oral legends, household artefacts, clothing and housing, all of which reflect the mythological consciousness of these ancient cultures, their nomad lifestyle, values, behavior and world view. Thus, this paper explores the semiotic codes behind the design and installation of yurts (the circular dwellings of nomad groups), Kazakh clothing and finally, food traditions. Our aim is to bring attention to the cultural importance of nomadic groups in Central Asia and their role in shaping the consciousness of Kazakhstan’s national identity today.

Keywords: Clothing, Food, Kazakh Culture, Rites of Passage, Semiotics, Symbolism, Tengrism, World View, Yurt

The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies, Volume 14, Issue 1, March 2016, pp.27-36. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: December 14, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 484.461KB)).

Nurlykhan Aljanova

PhD Student, Department of Religious and Cultural Studies, Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, Almaty, Kazakhstan

Prof. Karlygash M. Borbasova

Professor, Department of Religious Studies and Cultural Studies, Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, Almaty, Kazakhstan

Prof. Shamshiya S. Rysbekova

Professor, Department of Religious and Cultural Studies, Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, Almaty, Kazakhstan