If a nation does not know its history, if the country loses its history, then its citizens have nowhere to go.
Mirzhakyp Dulatuly

Traditional life in the steppe: child’s first steps and upbringing

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Traditional life in the steppe: child’s first steps and upbringing - e-history.kz
Among Kazakh people, there are still presently believed some superstitions and tokens, connected with a child which do not leave anybody indifferent.
Among traditional rites for children, the one that is still followed is the ritual of «cutting the ropes» (tusau kesu). The baby’s legs, while starting to walk, especially if he was suffering from rachitis (meshel), were tied with black and white woolen rope that was then cut by a woman with many children, agile and energetic, giving thus her qualities to the little baby. After that the rope was burnt. 


Kazakhs were paying much attention to giving names (at koyu). They tried to give beautiful names, names of famous people, so that the child looked like that person at least a little bit. 

According to traditions, a name was given at Morning Prayer time (azan shakyryp at koyu). The word «azan» means call. The essence is that in forty days after the birth the aksakals of the aul (the elder fathers) were gathering and with Morning Azan gave the baby a name. Usually is was done by the eldest person of all the relatives. Having pronounced the sacred words from Koran, he shouted the name of the child into his ear three times. 


Since the time when boys turned 5-6 years old, they were taught how to ride a horse, and the girls learnt how to sew from their sisters and mothers, as well as embroider and other household activities. By the age of 13-15 they were absolutely ready for the self-dependent life. The big role in the spiritual development of the children played guests, who told different fairy tales, true stories, songs and played musical instruments.


Among Kazakh people, there are still presently believed some superstitions and tokens, connected with a child, which are very interesting and do not leave anybody indifferent. They are vividly described in the collection book written by A.Kaybaruly and B.Bopaiuly. Here are some of them: 


Kazakhs should never adore a newborn child and say: «What a beautiful child!» or «What a plump baby!» If these words are said anyway, then the person, who uttered them, should spit three times. 


One is not supposed to rock a cradle if there is no baby inside. As it is the sign of an unhappy mother, who lost her mind because of the death of her child. To rock an empty cradle means to call for the misfortune. 


Also Kazakhs have a custom — the only boy in the family, should be dressed in patched dress and there should be tuft of hair (aidar) on his head specially grown, so that it would keep away evil eye and wicked tongue. 


A good sign and a reason for a joyful meeting is when a baby bows its head and looks from behind its legs upside down. In such cases people say: «Looks at the road», or «Traveler is coming», «The road is awaiting», «Relatives are coming from far away». 


Used materials:

Dzhelbudin E.T. Traditions and customs of Kazakhs.  Adet-Guryp. 

Photo: http://kazakh.orgfree.com/

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