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The custom of Kazakh people - “Tabak tartu” (Serving meat for guests)

The custom of Kazakh people - “Tabak tartu” (Serving meat for guests) - e-history.kz
Kazakh people have many customs connected to the meal; one of the most important customs is “tabak tartu” (serving meat for guests).

The process «tabak tartu» represents not only traditions and customs of people, but also its character and spiritual mentality. «Tabak tartu» is a sign of competency, decency, hospitality and culture of reverence of older guests. The lack of knowledge, inobservance of tabak serving is considered as ignorance. The certain zhilik (a bone with meat) is served for each guest according to his merits and desert.


 «Bas tabak» — the main tabak is served for invited honorary elder guests. «Syi tabak» is also for honorary guests, «kuyeu tabak» is for son-in-law, «kelin tabak» is for daughter-in-law and «zhastar tabak» is for youth.

 The sheep’s head (sometimes with «zhanbas») is served on a separate dish to the oldest and honorary guest as a sign of significant respect and reverence. 


The guest must share head among all present guests, following an ancient ritual, signifying respect to old people, children and distant relatives. The relation for children is interesting and curious: a tongue of sheep’s head was given to the nimble among children; ears, kidneys and fat parts of intestines in tresses were shared among children. 

There is an unspoken rule: a sheep’s head cannot be cut by a person, whose father is alive. Inviolability of honoring old people and parents was emphasized by it. The breach of this tradition was a sign of trouble.


 «Zhanbas» — a thigh bone, «beldeme» — a backbone are put into «bas tabak» for the most honorary guests. 

«Syi tabak» is served according to the age and reverence: stifle (asyk zhilik), upper-knee bones (ortan zhilik), blade-bone (zhauyryn), cubit (kari zhilik), brachium bone (tokpan zhilik). 

The ribs, vertebral bones-«omyrtka» were served to other guests. 

The relatives of a wife always served «tos» or fat brisket for a son-in-law and he was not present, they gave it to daughters or daughters-in-law. If you completely eat the brisket, it means you will have a beautiful wife or handsome husband. 

«Kari zhilik» literally means «old» bone, it should not be served to unmarried girls to avoid staying single forever. 


Essential and festive attribute of serving three kinds of tabak is adding broad tail, savory pieces of kazy, zhal, zhaya — delicacies of horse meat. Another essential attribute is leaving off of due part (mushe) or «sybaga». 

Each person, visitor who stays overnight is given «sybaga» according to the Kazakh tradition. Otherwise, he has a right to take offence at hosts. Therefore, the Kazakh people kept on the right side of steppe the law of hospitality since olden times. Guest, who was late or came another day also had «sybaga»- their certain part.