Kumiss is a handicraft standard
text: Julia Latysheva , exclusively for Gazeta.kz
The next kumiss festival "Saba" has just finished in Shymkent. The best kumiss-makers from all over South Kazakhstan presented for audience verdict dozens of kinds and types of this ancient drink.
A cup (piala) of kumiss is the main welcoming gesture and a sign of hospitality of nomads. A traveler no matter how he hurries up to continue his way meeting on the way a settlement and got a cup of kumiss from mistress of the house's hands dismounts and drinks this invigorative drink with bow.
At this dzhigit should touch the ground by one knee as a sign of respect the owners and keep the second knee a bit above as a sign that he is ready to defend this hospitable settlement.
Paraphrasing the famous proverb, better then the kumiss could be only the kumiss which you did not drink yet. And however tastes are not arguable, according to traditions the one of the tastiest and healthy drinks is kumiss of the first milking. In this moment foals are separated from mares trying to make them be get used to green fodder, and an udder of a mare is tied up to be milked in the first day up to 15 times.
Invariable crockery to store kumiss is "saba". It is sewed from particular dressing horse leather. At the beginning the leather is soaked out in sour milk, afterwards clean and soft it is smoked on meadow-sweet twigs. The last procedure repeated many times is rubbing into leather of horse grease which gives to the material special moisture and air impermeability. Only after "saba" is sewed. This vessel could store from 2-3 liters to hundreds of buckets. So-called "toy saba" is very famous of its size: 2 people could bathe there!
Traditionally kumiss is prepared by women, and its preparation secrets are passed on from generation to generation. Every housewife has her own special receipt of local herbs, spices and special breeds usage.
Sweet, new kumiss, seasoned only one night, is a drink for kids and old people. Ripe kumiss of "Khan", "Sultan", "Sardar", "Sary" types could become an adornment of any celebration.
Kumiss has an old history. It was mentioned by Herodotus of Halicarnassus in V centure as a drink of Scythian - Nomads. However it is notable that kumiss still remains a product of exceptional handicraft which does not admit to be manufactured.
- Kumiss is too alive drink and will not survive in plastic bottles,- says Altynshash Ibraimova, kumiss-maker from Tulkubass district of South Kazakhstani oblast.
It seems that because of this reason the history knows practically the only one example when kumiss producing seemed to be more or less manufactured. This example was tightened with the name of Shangerey Bokeev, Kazakh poet and enlightener.
For Kazakh literature Shangerey Bokeev could be compared to Sergey Esenin, he was the same poet - narodnik. It is remarkable that most likely Shangerey Bokeev could be considered as the first Kazakh photographer as well.
By the beginning of XX century because of Kyrgyz steppes enlightenment achievements Shangerey Bokeev got a present - photo camera - personally from Russian Imperator Nikolay I. photography became the most favorite hobby of Shangerey Bokeev.
Unfortunately, photos made by Shangerey Bokeev which we have today are not gathered in one single collection, which is impossible because extant negatives and photos are stored in private collections separately or in museum's store-rooms. But these photos could be considered as the first reports about steppe people way of life.
Sorry for this lyrical digression, but seems that only such unordinary and easily carried away personality as Shangerey Bokeev had power to organize in Russian Povolzhye the first kumiss clinic.
- Medical kinds of kumiss could be described in many volumes works, - is sure South Kazakhstani Consultative and Diagnostic Center vice chief medical officer S. Dosaliyeva. A lot of amino acids, iron, and vitamins beneficially influence all human organs, enriches the blood, assists in immunity restoration, decreases cholesterol level, etc.
The best kumiss of South Kazakhstan in 2007 became kumiss made by Kairat Baiseitov. For his mastery and art he has got the main festival prize - a mare with a foal. An absolute leader on drank kumiss quantity became a batyr from Makhtaaral B. Mombekov who has drank almost 8 liters of kumiss during the festival.
But the festival appeared to be not only the "belly holiday". National dishes, traditional pots and pans, all those household equipment tightened with kumis producing and storage exhibition was represented by masters and craftsmen from all over the South Kazakhstan.
The original competition was a match in folklore part of the festival: people competed for a title who knows more proverbs and songs.
Sketches adapted for the stage about traditions and customs of "festive" "Sultan-kumiss" and "wedding" "Khan-kumiss" usage were not deprived from enthusiastic public attention.
The only one thing which was not very joyful on the festival is a fact that original kumiss remains deficit thing in South Kazakhstani region.
In Shymkent, for instance, kumiss could hardly be bought for KZT 200-300 per 1 liter, but how the original kumiss-makers say, this "city" kumiss does not have anything in common with old healthy drink…
Also in the "In Depth"
09.01.2013 2012 marked by multiple events in Kazakhstan