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ISSN: 2690-5752

Journal of Anthropological and Archaeological Sciences

Mini Review(ISSN: 2690-5752)

Food Segregation In The Traditional And Modern Culture Of The Kyrgyz People (For Example, Meat Food) Volume 4 - Issue 1

Kochkunov Aidarbek Sulaimankulovich*

  • Anthropologist, Doctor of historical Sciences, Professor The Academy of public administration under the President of the Kyrgyz Republic, Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek

Received:April 29, 2021;   Published: May 11, 2021

Corresponding author: Kochkunov Aidarbek Sulaimankulovich, Anthropologist, Doctor of historical Sciences, Professor The Academy of public administration under the President of the Kyrgyz Republic, Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek

DOI: 10.32474/JAAS.2021.03.000180


Abstract PDF


The article examines food segregation in the traditional and modern culture of the Kyrgyz people using the example of meat food. It analyzes issues such as sampling and slaughtering livestock for guests, carcass cutting and the composition of prestigious pieces of meat, maintaining hierarchy in the distribution of pieces of meat, issues of sexual, age, status, kindred, clientela-power segregation. The modern forms of food segregation, the degree of functioning of traditional types of segregation in the distribution of prestigious pieces of meat among honored guests are investigated. The article concludes that it is extremely important in traditional society to observe the distribution of prestigious pieces of meat as confirmation of the social, kinship, gender, age, and other status of a person in the family and society. In essence, the phenomenon of the distribution of prestigious pieces of meat among the guests was ordered and systemic, with a clear definition of a person’s place in society. The evolution of food segregation based on meat food in the modern period is also traced. It is concluded that, despite the transformation of the order of reception of meat food, some aspects of the tradition of segregation in the modern period continues to function. This applies, first, to sex-age segregation during the reception of meat food at guest meals.

Keywords:Food Segregation; Meat Dishes; Prestigious Pieces of Meat; Meal; Guest; Tradition; Modernity; Djilik; et Tartuu; Ustukan; Ucha


Food segregation has various forms of manifestation in the social and cultural history of many peoples of the world [1]. It was present in the traditional culture of the Kyrgyz people, attaching importance to gender, age, social and other forms of emphasizing the status or position of an individual in society, which was manifested in many aspects of his life. In this case, the centuries-old tradition is passed down from generation to generation, when it has special significance in our time, attaching special importance to the regulation of human relations. This problem is actualized in the light of the study of the relationship between traditions and innovations in modern culture. In accordance with this, the main purpose of this article is to identify food segregation in the traditional and modern culture of the Kyrgyz people by the example of the analysis of the culture of eating meat.

Selection, Slaughter and Carcass Cutting

In the traditional period, the main part of the Kyrgyz people was engaged in nomadic cattle breeding [2-5]. The basis of cattle breeding and, accordingly, the power system, was cattle and small cattle. Large - these are horses, camels, cows, yaks, small - sheep and goats. In the total quantitative ratio of horses and sheep, they significantly exceeded the number of other livestock species. In preparation for the reception of the guests, great importance was attached to the choice of cattle for slaughter. Since the Kyrgyz people considered hospitality to be an essential part of folk etiquette, everything was done to ensure that the guest was satisfied with the reception. Naturally, great importance was attached to refreshments, the central element of which was the supply of meat food. The meat had to be of good quality, fatty, with the obligatory presence of prestigious pieces - siy ustukandar. After slaughtering the cattle, cutting into pieces – djiliktoo (literally - divided by joints) was considered an important stage. Butchering carcasses of small livestock required a special approach because of the small amount of meat. On each part of the joints there should have been a certain amount of meat not separated from the bone - the muscle part. If the required amount of meat was not found in the cut joints, then it was necessary to re-cut the small livestock, otherwise it would be difficult to avoid trouble.

Joints and other parts of small livestock were never cut into small parts. Guests were always served whole chunks. As for cattle, after cutting through joints, certain bones were cut into two halves: tubular bones - djilikter, ilium - djambash and shoulder blades - daly and karchyganyn kabyrgalary - abdominal ribs. Without fail, each link of the vertebral and dorsal parts was left intact, since these pieces were considered prestigious in comparison with others and served to the elders. In addition, each cut piece was prestigious. Unserved at the guest receptions were the cervical vertebrae - moyn (both small and large cattle), the vertebrae of the dorsal part, the front ribs - the kabyrgalar, the lower part of the jaw of the head of small cattle - til jaak, the short tubular bone between the scapula and the radius - the kung djilik (option: corto djilik). The word “kung” in the Kyrgyz language means “servant”, “slave”. This piece of meat was never served to guests, including women. It was intended exclusively for young people, the wives of the younger sons of the owner, or domestic servants. Small cattle entrails, legs were intended only for children and serving women. The entrails of cattle, especially horses, except the lungs, heart and liver, were considered honorable and served only to guests as part of other pieces of meat. Ribs of the abdominal part - karchyganyn kabyrgalary, backs - arka - small cattle were fed to guests of middle or young age of both sexes [6]. Each piece of meat in the popular representation has a certain semiotic-semantic meaning [7-10].

Gender Segregation

Pieces of meat can be conditionally divided into “male” and “female”. Of course, the Kyrgyz did not have any written traditions of the etiquette of the feast. All orders and rules adopted regarding the eating of meat treats had the character of stable folk customs arising from the foundations of tribal and patriarchal relations. The distribution of the prestigious parts of cooked meat was perceived as a recognition of the status of a person in the family, community, clan. Some parts of the meat were of exclusively “gender” significance. So, the head of small cattle - bash, the radius – kar djilik (the front tubular bone of small cattle), as well as the most honorable part of cattle - the sacrum – ucha served only to men. “Female” was considered the brisket - tosh, kurdyuk (sheep tail fat) - kuimulchak. In all types of treats in traditional culture, sexual segregation is clearly visible. At public receptions, men and women took meat food, as well as any food and drink separately. Could arrange a meal in a yurt with a small number of guests or in nature with a large crowd. For each group of guests, service personnel were appointed in advance, as a rule, considering the patronomic (close relatives) groups or small deliveries. These same people were responsible for the safe stay of guests, provided lodging for the night, livestock feed, and provided security. Guests had the right, sanctioned by customary law - the adat, to express dissatisfaction, to make claims for one or another shortcoming during their stay. The host was forced to cater to all the whims of the guests. At the same time, the receiving party could hold a grudge due to the excessive demands of the guests and compensate for it during the reciprocal receptions.

Before serving meat, they were treated to a fermented milk drink from mare’s milk, kymyz, and then they distributed broth in wooden cups, sorpo, in which the meat was cooked. Only after that did the ceremony of serving the actual boiled meat begin, which was brought in large flat wooden cups and served according to the age and status of those present: first to the elderly and senior, then descending. First of all, they served the male part of the guests. To eating meat, guests sat in small groups of up to seven to eight people. Female guests took food separately from men, also in groups. They were located either in the yurt or separately from the men at some distance. Women could serve meat to both men and young women. The pieces of meat distributed between men and women differed in composition. “Male” pieces of meat should never, under any circumstances, end up in cups intended for women, and, conversely, “female” ones in male ones. Errors here were simply ruled out. Pieces of meat intended for men of high reputation may contain a small number of prestigious pieces, and they should generally be positive in the secondary pieces of meat. Field segregation when taking meat dishes in a narrow circle of the family. However, the extent to which this tradition was spread depended on the particular family. In large family farms there are several parents: parents, children, children and other close relatives, the sex segments functioned in full. In nuclear (monogamous) families, where couples and children lived separately from representatives of the older generation, food, including meat, was taken together. Although in such families a prestigious piece of meat went to the man - the head of the family.

A few words should be said about gender segregation in the distribution of the head of small livestock. As mentioned above, the head was divided into two parts: the upper - bash, the lower jaw - til djaak. In eating the head of small livestock, there are features that are as follows. The guest who received the head was supposed to remove half of the scalp - kuykum and, cut into small pieces taking into account the number of guests, treat them by pouring the broth into a cup with pieces. The palate was female (girlish piece) and passed on to all the owner’s daughters with the wishes to be an embroiderer - saimachi. The palate had a ribbed-patterned appearance, which was associated with the art of embroidery.

Age Segregation

Taking into account the age composition of guests when taking meat dishes is a vivid manifestation of food segregation in the traditional culture of the Kyrgyz people. As a matter of fact, it is precisely with reception that the age qualification of the composition of people sharing food is clearly seen. The guest who received the head divided one eye into two parts, transferred one to a nearby peer with wishes to meet regularly, and ate the other himself. After one half of the head was cleaned to the bone, the head with the remains of the other part of the skin, ear, eyes passed to one of the children of the owner as ustukan. Children without fail accepted these offerings. The refusal was perceived by the guests as an insult, and the guests could firmly reproach the owner for the bad manners of the children. This was considered a blatant violation of the generally accepted etiquette of the people. In addition, it was considered a rule to transfer part (leftover meat in a given piece) of prestigious pieces of meat as a ustukan to young fellow cooks, the owner or someone from the service staff, usually a good friend. Since men never took the remains of prestigious pieces of meat with them, except for ucha, transferring it to others as an ustukan was considered the norm of generally accepted etiquette. With an equal composition of guests for the correct distribution of honorable pieces of meat it was not forbidden to learn from each other’s age. At guest meals with a small (up to 10 - 12 people) number of people served the following pieces of meat - ustukan (boiled pieces of meat intended for guests) in descending order: djambash (ilium), djoto djilik (tubular tibia), kashka djilik (tubular femur), kar djilik (tubular radius), daly (scapula), karchiganyn kabyrgalary (abdominal ribs), myrza omurtkalar (dorsal vertebrae) [11]. Regional (or rather, tribal) variation was customary for serving guests with the head of small livestock - bash (without the lower jaw). In most groups of Kyrgyz, it was considered the main and honorable, it was usually served together with one honorary piece of lamb, often tibia or ilium. At the Kyrgyz of the Issyk-Kul-Naryn zone, the lamb’s head was served to the younger of the guests with the addition of one abdominal rib.

In cases where guests were unfamiliar to the owner (kudayi konok when the guests who arrived suddenly), in order not to make a mistake when serving meat, honorary pieces were left to the guests to choose. At large celebrations - toy (holiday) or ash (wake) - guests were served mainly cattle meat, usually horse meat. To give a more organized character to the whole process of receiving meat food, which was considered the central element of the entire ceremony of hospitality, responsible people were appointed. They should have known the quantitative and qualitative composition of the guests, determined in advance who should bring what prestigious pieces of meat. The prestigious pieces of meat of cattle (horsemeat) were: omurtka - vertebrae from neck to back, kyr arka - dorsal vertebrae, karchyganyn kabyrgasy - abdominal ribs, zhambashtyn kalak bashy - shovel-shaped part of the cut ilium. In this case, that half of the rib, the end of which had a connection with the vertebra, was considered prestigious. All these pieces were served to older guests. The cut parts of the joints of the front and rear legs of the horse were served to guests of middle and young age, who were seated in a separate group. As you can see, the supply of pieces of horse meat sharply differed from the order of supply of pieces of meat of small livestock, in which the joints of the front and rear legs, with the exception of the kung djilik, had a prestigious character. In horse meat, on the contrary, the joints of the legs were of a secondary nature. The second important feature in the distribution of horse meat is the obligatory supply of horse djal - mane along with meat, entrails: karta - rectum, karyn - stomach and chuchuk - abdominal fat, tucked into the intestine in the form of sausage. These species were considered prestigious. In cups with meat intended for older people, they were put in large pieces so that it would be enough for all the rest. The female half of the guests were served horsemeat also taking into account agerelated characteristics. However, in their cups there could be less prestigious pieces, and also there were no chopped parts of the joints, with the exception of the ilium - djambash. Women also had to be served horse meat. A feature of the distribution of meat food from horse meat is the supply of a large exclusively «male» piece of tailbone - ucha.

Related Status

Let us briefly consider the compositions of pieces of meat in terms of prestige - siyluu - in descending order. Let’s start with small cattle. As noted above, cutting carcasses of small cattle along the joints required great care and skills. On each joint, it was necessary to leave «their» muscle mass, not separated from the bone. The joints of the front legs were called kol mucho (option: kol djilik), of the hind legs - san mucho (option: san djilik). The front joints were called a kar djilik - the radius (tubular), the djilik - part of the armpit (tubular), the daly - the scapula (two pairs), the back joints - zhoto-djilik - tibia (tubular), the kashka djilik - the femur (tubular), djambash - ilium (also two pairs). All these pieces had a hierarchy of prestige, with the exception of kung djilik. The names of the parts of cattle completely repeated the names of the parts of small. From the carcasses of cattle without fail a whole piece was cut out a tailbone - ucha. Horse tailbone was especially valued. It was intended exclusively for man - the oldest of community, clan or guest of honor.

There was a special ritual of serving ucha and the order of food (see more about this in the subsection «The order of eating of ucha»). The entrails of horse ich et were divided into kazy (underbelly), karta (rectum), karyn (stomach), djal (mane). Unlike the insides of small livestock, they were required to be in cups with meat intended for guests. A dish of chuchuk - horse sausage was prepared from kazy. The vertebral parts of cattle were more prestigious than those parts of small. Moreover, the honorary guests were not served parts of the tubular bones with meat, in contrast to the tubular bones of small cattle, which were prestigious. They were served to guests of middle or young age. In relation to the head - bash - there was a difference depending on whether it was large or small livestock. The head of a small one was served to honored guests in some groups of Kyrgyz, adding one of the honorable pieces of meat to it, while in others it was served to the younger of the guests. In any case, the head of small cattle was given only to men. As for the head of cattle, it was eaten by community members at the end of all the ceremonies.

Food segregation was present at the receptions with refreshments with a complex family composition of guests. First of all, they included matchmakers – kuda-sook, matroline relatives (relatives on the line of mother, wife) - taylar, spouse’s relatives - kayin zhurt, designated parents - okul ata-apalar and others. The selection of pieces of meat to this composition of the guests approached with particular scrupulousness. They were served the most prestigious pieces of meat, both small and large cattle. There was a strict and mandatory order for almost all groups of the Kyrgyz people, according to which certain pieces were necessarily brought to specific guests. So, pieces of meat intended for matchmakers: the tailbone - ucha - received a kuda (daughter-in-law’s or son-in-law’s father), kurdyuk - kuymulchak - received a kudagyi (daughterin- law’s or son-in-law’s mother). If several pairs of matchmakers were present at the meal, then these pieces were presented to new matchmakers. Subsequently, during various family celebrations, the teaching was passed on to the master’s matchmaker (daughterin- law’s father). The Kyrgyz parents of the bride - kelindin torkunu - had certain advantages compared to the parents of the son-in-law. In addition, almost all groups of Kyrgyz people had a rule according to which the lamb’s head was never given to the matchmakers - the bride’s parents - bash alganga bash berbeyt (literally: the head is not given to the one from whom the head is received, i.e. a new family member, in the sense of the bride).If the guests included the daughter of the host of the celebration, then she was given a brisket - tosh. In case of her absence, the brisket could be passed to her through guests as a welded hotel.

If at the guest meal there were only matchmakers in an expanded composition, then the distribution of the remaining honorary pieces of meat was carried out depending on age, gender, degree of relationship between the guests themselves. To avoid mistakes or misunderstandings, guests could intervene in the meat distribution process, as they knew better to whom which pieces should be served. In Kyrgyz, matrilineal relatives enjoyed special honor. They were treated with emphatically respectful, tried to please in everything, to fulfill their whims. If a nephew of a woman (children of a daughter, sister in relation to her father or brother) - jeen - wanted to take the thing he liked, he could do it without demand. Also, during the feast at family celebrations, there was a ritual - jeen tabac - a cup of meat intended only for nephews. They were planted as a separate group and served with special attention. They were served prestigious pieces of meat.

Food Segregation In The System Of Client-Power Relations

In the system of client-power relations, the Kyrgyz occupied a certain place in food. Any socially significant event was accompanied by the organization of a guest meal - konoctoo - refreshments, which could consist of the intake of various types of food, drinks. The central and final stage of the treat was always the eating of meat food. Since the Kyrgyz client-power relations existed at different levels - from patronomic-communal to tribal-tribal - accordingly, there was a certain procedure for receiving guests. The greatest responsibility was distinguished by the reception of representatives of clans and tribes. For them, only a horse was cut without fail (depending on the number of guests, several goals could be cut). The heads of the clans were served the most prestigious pieces of meat with the obligatory addition of large pieces of viscera. In such celebrations, teaching relied either on the oldest person, or on the head of a clan or tribe. As historical sources show, with the emergence of the institute of manaps among the North Kyrgyz tribes, a new category of managers, traditional institutions of seniority based on patriarchal and tribal relations began to undergo a transformation. Manaps, which in turn consisted of several layers, destroyed the centuries-old traditions of clientpower relations in Kyrgyz society. They behaved provocatively, unceremoniously interfered in personal, family, social affairs, paid little attention to human opinion, and committed lawlessness from the point of view of nomadic life. Ordinary nomads were forced to organize refreshments with the obligatory slaughter of cattle. In case of refusal, they were beaten by armed squads who were at the manap and forced to carry out their will. The best pieces of meat (fresh, dried, or smoked) were delivered to their home, even if they did not come to the celebration. In case of cattle slaughter, ucha and other prestigious pieces of meat were obligatory transferred to the manap’s home, which was considered a blatant violation of nomadic traditions. This trend intensified during the period when the Kyrgyz were part of the Russian Empire. In fairness, it should be emphasized that the Russian imperial government, introducing its legislation into Kyrgyz society, significantly reduced the violence on the part of the manaps, but it did not fundamentally change the situation. Moreover, manaps became an instrument in the hands of the colonial authorities to suppress all discontent against imperial power.

Food segregation could be present in tribal relations. A unique hierarchy of seniority existed in the structure of each clan or tribe. Separate clans or tribes, according to folk legends, were considered elders and, accordingly, enjoyed a definite and universally recognized advantage in resolving certain issues. This situation was reflected in the distribution of prestigious pieces of meat at public events. Representatives of conditionally “title” tribes received more honorable pieces of meat than others. In addition, in the absence of a leader of one kind or another or clan unit at the meal, his place could be taken by another representative of the same kind, even if he were young, he would still receive a more prestigious piece of meat [5].

Ucha Acceptance Procedure

In this part, I would like to present the results of the study on the procedure for taking a specific piece of cooked cattle meat - ucha. This topic deserves special consideration in the context of traditional food segregation among Kyrgyz people. Ucha, as noted above, is the most prestigious part among the pieces of meat of large animals [5,7]. In the traditional period, it was cut out only from the tailbone of horse meat. Subsequently, they began to cut from the tailbone of cattle. Nevertheless, learning from horsemeat was especially appreciated. It was cooked along with other pieces of meat or separately. Since it contained a rather thick layer of meat, it was necessary to cook evenly. It was served to the most honored guest. The serving took place within the framework of the ritual “ucha tabac” (cup with ucha). It was held in the following order: before serving meat - et tartuu - the guests were divided into small groups (from five to ten people) according to age and status categories. From the composition of the guests, more than nine to eleven more status guests were allocated and formed a group for ucha tabac. Among them was a guest who was destined to teach. At the same time, another group was also formed of honored guests consisting of seven to nine people who sat next to ucha tabac.

They called this group “jandooch tabac” (located next to ucha). The formation of these groups took place in an atmosphere of mutual consultation with the guests, quietly, without wide publicity. The pieces of boiled meat intended for these groups were distinguished by the highest degree of prestige, with the presence of large pieces of horse meat entrails. The person to whom the teaching was intended was served in a separate cup with the addition of a large whole piece of horse sausage - chuchuk. There was a certain etiquette of ucha. At first, the person who received the ucha had to eat a few pieces himself – ooz tiet, then cut the pieces from the right and left sides and transfer them to the others and the jandooch tabac group. Thus, the guests of the two groups were involved in ucha food. This piece of meat was not eaten to the end, but without fail left large pieces of meat on the bones. Ucha, as a rule, was taken away by the guest to regale members of the patronomic group upon returning home. The person who received the ucha remembered this event for a long time and subsequently gratefully recalled it as a sign of respect from the host [11].

The Current Status of Meat Food

Of course, changes in social relations in Kyrgyz society towards gender equality, increasing the role of women in the family and society, and other factors significantly “democratized” the atmosphere of guest meals. Nevertheless, it is in the reception of meat dishes that, to one degree or another, segregative relations continue to function. We will try to establish the degree of existence of food segregation when serving prestigious pieces of meat in the modern nutrition system of the Kyrgyz people and to reveal its sociocultural and communicative significance [6]. In the modern period (at the end of the XX and at the beginning of the XXI century), the cuisine of the Kyrgyz people is a complex structure, where, along with folk (ethnic) types of dishes, there are dishes, salads, sweets, vegetables, fruits, and other types of products from around the world. Many of them ceased to be innovations but became an organic part of the nutritional structure of the people. Nevertheless, meat food, despite the emergence of strong competitors, has not lost its significance today. Moreover, in everyday life and during festive events, various types of meat food are preferred, have a higher status than other dishes. At such receptions, livestock are necessarily slaughtered, the type of which depends on the nature of the event. At small family festivities, one or more heads of small livestock are slaughtered, and at large-scale - cattle. In the past two and a half decades, large family celebrations involving many people - from 100 to 1000, sometimes more, have become common. At such festivities, several heads of cattle can be slaughtered, as a rule, a horse is preferred. In the hierarchy of dishes served, the status of meat food is much higher, and its presentation is the final stage of the celebration.

Elements of Segregation While Eating Meat

In the modern period, food segregation while eating meat continues to be one of the unique features of the ethnic culture of the people. Of course, with the formation of new social relations and culture for the previous period of deep transformations, the objective conditions for the functioning of food segregation disappeared. It is preserved rather as a historical and cultural inertia. On the other hand, in families with a complex kinship composition (in three generational families), the parents of couples become factors in the conservation of elements of traditional culture and knowledge. In such families, during a family meal, prestigious pieces of meat are passed on to older, elderly parents. At the same time, all family members are sitting at the same table, interspersed. There is almost no separate food intake by gender in everyday life.

However, the situation changes during family celebrations at home with a small number of guests. In such cases, there are several methods for serving prestigious pieces of meat: a) serving meat at a table in which all those present from the beginning to the end of the meal took part; b) separate transplantation of guests by gender there (men were transplanted in one direction, women in the other); c) a complete separation by gender in one room or in different rooms. At any seating of guests, honorary pieces of cooked meat are served considering the gender and age of the guests. Despite the changes caused by social transformations, at present the tradition of serving “male” and “female” pieces of meat continues to function. However, if pieces of meat are distributed to all seated guests of the same sex at the same table, then the scalp of small livestock - kuykа - was given to all guests, including women, to try.

The same thing happened with the «female» piece - kuymulchak - kurdyuk. As a rule, today it is served by an honored guest or an older woman from all those present at the meal. The guest, after she eats several pieces of fat tail, she cut it into small pieces according to the number of peppers, put it in a cup and transferred it in a circle. Each guest, including male representatives, had to take a piece of fat tail and eat. However, there are some more severe manifestations of food segregation when taking meat dishes. As shown by the author’s field materials collected during the work on this article in the village of Alayku in the Kara-Kulzhinsky district of Osh oblast, if guests of both sexes are sitting at the same holiday table, only men take the scalp - kuykа, bypassing women [12]. Now food segregation when taking meat food exists in various forms and manifestations. The degree of observance of the tradition is more present when eating, where the main participants are old or older people. In youth, segregation in the distribution of meat can be more pronounced in villages, less in the city. When holding youth festive feasts in the city, to correctly distribute prestigious pieces of meat, they can invite a person who is knowledgeable in this. At festive feasts, rural youth cope with this task on their own, as they generally have a good idea of the distribution of prestigious pieces of meat. Youth events both in cities and in villages are held jointly, including the reception of meat food. In the modern system of celebrations, there have been noticeable changes regarding the “unsupported” parts of the carcass of small livestock and entrails in traditional culture. In the south of the Kyrgyz people of the Chuy Valley, in the south, guest veins began to appear kung djilik (a variant of the korto djilik), minor ribs, and innards of small livestock. It is common practice to cut tubular, iliac bones, and small livestock scapula before cooking.

Field studies of the author show that this is more related to the financial situation of the family, since the purchase of livestock for slaughter requires large financial costs for the family. Compared to other regions of Kyrgyzstan, elements of food segregation when taking boiled pieces of meat are more conserved among the Kyrgyz population of the Naryn, Issyk-Kul, Talas zones and in some mountainous regions of the south of the country. This was due to the relatively mono-ethnic composition of the population, the predominance of the livestock type of economy, remoteness from urban centers and other factors.

Elements of Segregation At Major Events: Toy And Ash

The Kyrgyz people have a tradition of organizing large-scale events, such as the one - a celebration on family events, ashcommemoration with a large number of invited guests, is one of the brightest manifestations of modern culture [8]. During such events, a certain number of cattle, preferably horses, is slaughtered without fail. Serving a meat meal ends with a celebration or commemoration. Consider the elements of segregation when serving meat dishes at such events. Ready-to-eat boiled meat are preliminarily distributed to the guest tables - et jasayt. This process takes place under the guidance of a person who knows the distribution order of pieces of meat for many guests. Previously, he is informed about the composition of the guests regarding relations of relatives, peculiar to their studies, work, neighbors, as well as about foreign guests (as our observations show, recently, guests from Europe, Asia, America, etc. have been present at Kyrgyz family events). Guests are seated according to signs of kinship, age. There is almost no gender segregation at such celebrations, except for serving ucha, which will be discussed separately. Therefore, pieces of meat are served according to the number of guests sitting at the table. Close relatives of the older age - aga-tuugandar, maternal uncles - tay zhurt and relatives - serve the most prestigious pieces of horse meat. Prestige is also characterized by pieces of meat for senior work colleagues, managers. It should be noted that honorary pieces of meat are served for foreign guests: Americans, British, Germans, French and others, regardless of whether they eat or not. This act is underlined respect for the presence of guests at a family celebration or commemoration. When cups of meat are delivered to guests’ tables, further distribution of meat to recipients occurs at each table (usually 10-12 people sit at one table). According to etiquette, the younger man at the table distributes the pieces - ustukans – to sitting guests. In the case of confusion due to ignorance or doubt, one of the seated tells someone to which piece to put. At the same time, more prestigious pieces are served for men than for women. Segregation is also present in the cutting of horsemeat entrails: chuchuk (from abdominal fat - kazy), karyn and karta. As a rule, they are handed over to the guest of honor or the eldest of those sitting at the same table. He should cut them into pieces according to the number of people sitting, put them in a separate cup and pass them on to the others in a circle. In this, one of the manifestations of the tradition of food segregation among Kyrgyz people can be seen. Sometimes this mission is proposed to be carried out to the one who distributes the meat. Elements of food segregation by sex and age on these types of events are well manifested in serving ucha.

Food Segregation When Serving Ucha

Presentation of the horse’s tailbone ucha in the modern period continues to be one of the most important ceremonial actions during the distribution of pieces of meat. It is with him that food segregation by sex and age and status characteristics is more associated. Ucha continues to be an exclusively “male” piece of meat.

Just as in traditional culture, learning is paid special attention. It should be welded evenly and softly. Teaching takes place in a special order. Firstly, the person from the composition of the guests is determined.

If the main participants in the event are relatives, then it is served to the eldest of them or the head of patronymia. And when a complex composition of guests is involved (at weddings, on the birth of children, circumcision, anniversary events, as well as commemorations), then the matchmaker is presented with - kuda. If several horses are cut for an event, then teaching can be given to several honored guests. There are two main ways to organize a meal ucha: a) they can present it to a guest in a separate cup in the place where he sits; b) can organize in the hall where the celebration takes place, a separate table «ucha tabac» and invite 10 to 12 people there. These people are determined in advance by the host of the celebration, a list is drawn up indicating the status of kinship, and the place of the ritual of «ucha tabac» is indicated. The second method has a conservative option, closer to the traditional one. It is characteristic of the Kyrgyz population of the Issyk-Kul- Naryn zone of the country. Ucha tаbac and jandooch tаbac consist of the most prestigious pieces of meat - siy ustukandar according to the number of guests: ucha, kyr arka, omurtka, karchyganyn kabyrgalary, chuchuk and other horsemeat entrails, as well as several pieces of pulp - sulp et - which guests themselves finely chopped for a dish - tuuragan et (known as “beshbarmak”). In this population group, the traditional way of organizing teaching is more common. Two groups of guests are formed from the list of honored guests, one is called «ucha tabac» (a cup with ucha), the other - «jandooch tabac» (sitting next to the ucha). The number of participants varies from nine to eleven to twelve in each group. These groups are isolated from other guests in a separate room and are also served separately. The composition of the pieces of meat in both groups has a traditional character. Ucha, as a rule, is presented to the most honored guest from the composition, which is determined by the host of the celebration. None of those present has the right to change the choice of the owner, since the decision on the composition of the guests and taking ucha by the person is taken after preliminary consultations with relatives and guests. Ucha can also be transferred to a young guest, if he is higher in family status than others. The person who received the ucha should immediately thank with money the one who presented the ucha. At the end of the meal, each of the participants in these groups thanked the owner for a special honor (Author’s field materials, 2016. Karakol city, Issyk-Kul region).


This anthropological review allows us to draw the following conclusions

The tradition of distributing prestigious pieces of meat at various taxonomic levels of food intake is an interesting phenomenon in the ethnic culture of the Kyrgyz people. It was and continues to be of great importance in the system of intraethnic communication and gender and age, status identification of people during the meal. When taking any other food, except meat, the whole spectrum of the relationship between people does not appear in full. Many aspects of the distribution order of prestigious pieces of meat, meat etiquette and other actions may be related to the ancient eras. On the other hand, errors in the distribution of prestigious pieces of meat could have a conflict character between relatives and representatives of the clan. Meat treats were also one of the most effective ways to resolve conflicts in society [6]. In the modern period, the distribution of prestigious pieces of meat has a transformed character. Even though in some regions and in certain circumstances this tradition may have a “classic” version, this does not mean at all that they reflect social relations in modern society. Mistakes, if they are made at guest events, can cause only a slight misunderstanding, and be perceived as an unintentional action on the part of the host. Segregation while taking meat dishes is currently inertial and more likely to be perceived as a tribute to the historical traditions of the Kyrgyz people.


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