Kyrgyz Jailoo

Jailoo - summer pastures of Kyrgyz nomades

Kyrgyzstan: summer pasture - jailooNomadic cattle breeding was the main form of farm business of the Kyrgyz over three millenniums. Seasonal roaming was divided into winter (kyshtoo), spring (jazdoo), summer (jayloo) and autumn (kyzdoo) ones. As winter pastures, the valleys and intermontane hollows which were natural places for protection of herds and flocks from snowstorms and winds were used. Autumn and spring pastures were usually found at the holdings nearest to the hibernation, because of early thawing of a mantle of snow there. Summer pastures were located in intermontane valleys featured with heavy vegetative cover and natural water storages.

Jayloo, summer pastures of Kirgiz nomads were found in the piedmont and hilly regions of the country. The origin of this word as the tradition of roaming to summer pastures itself is dating back to the ancient history of the Turkic peoples. Nowadays the Kirgiz have 3,900 000 ha of their territory occupied by summer pastures.

Kyrgyzstan: summer pasture - jailooTurkic transcription for jayloo is written as yaylag (yay means summer). In course of time the word was transformed to jayloo by the Kirgiz, to jaylau by the Kazakh and it was only the Turkmen who preserved the word yajak as it is.

It is an interesting fact that the nomads called winter pastures as kishlag (kish means winter). This term found its application and so up to date the countryside in Central Asia is called kishlak. The Kirgiz alone retained the traditional division into seasonal pastures. This tradition however is becoming obsolete in other countries of the region.

There are a lot of summer pastures – jayloo in the vastness of Kirgizia. So the tourists may visit them and live as nomads on the pastures in the Besh-Tash Gorge. The traditional jayloo to be visited by the tourists is situated in the Semyenov Gorge. Everybody can live there in traditional yurts (nomadic tents) and enjoy dishes of the Kirgiz cuisine.

Kyrgyzstan: summer pasture - jailooThe summer pastures can also be found around Lake Son-Kul, the second largest one in Kirgizia. This highland lake is located in the Tien Shan Mountains at the height of 3016m. It is located on a mountain plain surrounded by meadows (jayloo). This is one of the ancient places for summer cattle stripping which fact is confirmed by petroglyphic drawings found at the lakeside.

A jayloo means for the Kirgiz more than just a pasture for cattle stripping, this is a very ancient tradition which despite of the modern world is deeply respected and preserved in the culture of the Kirgiz people.