13th Congress of the International Society of Ethnobiology

Within the frame of the 13th Congress of the International Society of Ethnobiology (  Monpellier, France from May 20-25, 2012 ) director of the Aigine CRC, Gulnara Aitpaeva participated in the activities of the Forum of Indigenous People, Natural Sacred Sites Program and ICCA (Indigenous people and local communities).
At the May 21 on the Forum of Indigenous People Gulnara presented an analysis of the situation that emerged in Kyrgyzstan around the phenomenon “Aikol Manas,” the book version of the greatest Kyrgyz epic tale. This version has been in continuous publication since 1995 and presents the results of spiritual practices that the woman Bubu Mariam mainly carried out at sacred sites. Such practices, which the Kyrgyz people call “ayan”, such as receiving information from certain spirits in certain territories, was typical in the past for authentic bearers of epical knowledge. Such practitioners have disappeared, but the traditions of spiritual messaging have been reemerging in different forms since the 1990s. The book version of “Aikol Manas” is the most prominent and complete manifestation of Kyrgyz traditional spirituality. It contains extremely interesting layers of traditional knowledge, along with extremely disputable information on the history of the people and the epic. Irreconcilable opponents of this interpretation of “Aikol Manas” have come from supporters of fundamentalist Islam and academic science.  “Manaschys,” the keepers of oral epic tradition, also treat the book with caution.
Within the framework of  Forum of Indigenous People in order to strengthen informal traditional ways of protecting sacred sites in Kyrgyzstan, Aigine Cultural Research Center undertook an initiative to translate the “STATEMENT OF COMMON AFRICAN CUSTOMARY LAWS FOR THE PROTECTION OF SACRED SITES” to Kyrgyz in order to discuss the statement with Kyrgyz practitioners in August.
Aigine invited representatives of the Natural Sacred Sites Program to Kyrgyzstan with the aim of developing joint projects and integrating the nation’s sacred sites and their caretakers into a world content.