Kirgiz People in Traditional Costume
The Kirgiz ethnic group, with a total population of 160,823, is scattered throughout the southwest of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region. A small percentage of this ethnic group lives in northern Xinjiang and Heilongjiang province.
The Kirgiz history can be traced back to the Jiankun people living in the upper reach of Yenisei River 2,000 years ago. The ancient Kirgiz people are an amalgamation of the Qidan, Turki, Mongolian and Uigur peoples. This combination has created the features of the current Kirgiz.
They have lived a herding life for generations. They created their own language, based on Arabic letters. During economic and cultural exchanges, the Han language was gradually adopted into the Kirgiz Uigur and Kazak languages. The Han language is also used by the Kirgiz in some localities.
The nomadic Kirgiz live on the plains near rivers in summer and move to mountain slopes with a sunny exposure in winter. Their material life is closely related to animal husbandry; garments, food and dwellings all distinctively feature their nomadic lifestyle The Kirgiz people live in portable yurts and eat pasture food, such as mutton, beef, yoghurt, cheese, milky tea, etc, which are welcomed by other nomadic nationalities. They believe in Islam and avoid meat from pig, dog, cat, mouse and other ferocious animals.
The Kirgiz men normally wear a round-collared white shirt with embroidered edges, or black or blue cotton gowns without a collar. They wear trousers with wide legs and high boots. Girls wear jackets with silver buttons down the edges, with black waistcoats or gowns without a collar. Their pleated skirts are always decorated with fur at the hem. Men often wear a corduroy cap with a round crown in green, blue, purple or black and the woman often wear red, green, or white shawls.
The Kirgiz are renowned singers and dancers. The songs are rich in content and include lyrics, epics and folk songs. They have over 10 kinds of musical instruments, in which a 'kumuzi' (a kind of *bandore) is especially popular among the Kirgizs.
*Note: A bandore is an ancient musical instrument, similar in form to a guitar. A bandore in Kirgiz means beautiful musical instrument. The ancient bandore is usually made of Corean pine. A bandore has three strings.
As with other nationalities of Islamic faith, the Kirgiz celebrate the Kaizhai Festival, Corban Festival and Almsgiving Festival.