Research on Sacred Sites in Issyk-Kul oblast, seminar, 2006

Seminar: Initial Study of Sacred Sites in Issyk-Kol Province
Date:         April 8-9, 2006
Place:        Karakol town, Issyk-Kol, Kyrgyzstan
Language: Kyrgyz
Goal: to train and assist the working group on Issyk-Kol to collect and write down basic information about sacred sites in the oblast
Working Group (WG) consisting of 5 alumni 2005 of Issyk-Kol State University named after Tynystanov was formed in March, 2006. A set up workshop was conducted on the 2nd and 3rd of March, 2006, in Bishkek.
WG was oriented and got basic training on: a) setting contacts with local people b) gathering necessary information, c) taking field notes using the Talas model.
In the beginning five students were distributed for five regions and each of them was researching own regions. On April, 2006 there was a workshop in Karakol to analyze first results and mostly problems and difficulties the WG members encountered with.
One of the main difficulties was a small number of WG, which did have time to get remote sites and villages, and hard conditions of field search. Aigine took a decision to increase the number of WG members to 9 people for a month. All 9 members were equipped with fotoaparats, Dictaphones, cassettes.
There was a difficulty of ideological character also: many local imams were against visiting mazars. According to their opinion one must not worship sacred sites because this phenomenon relates to shamanism. Local imams think that people go to sacred sites and ask well-being, health from water, stone and tree and it is “return to paganism”.  Issuk-Kol WG having an experience of Talas WG has argued that people who go to sacred sites do not ask anything from water, stone and tree, but first of all they pray Koran for the ones who were buried there, and ask God for health, peace and other things. People do not ask mazars, but God.
An adviser Nathan Light took part in the discussions and proposed some ideas how to deal with such types of the issues.
The list of research group members who participated in the seminar:
  1. Imanbaev Avaz
  2. Turusbekov Ulan
  3. Turusbekov Urmat
  4. Duishenkolov Aybek
  5. Akmatova Kalicha
  6. Akanov Doolot
  7. Mambetalieva Nurjamal
  8. Kalchaev Kanat
  9. Supataeva Shayur
Also some healers, a guardian of Karakol ata sacred site, students and professors of Issyk-Kol State University were invited to participate in the workshop.
As for interim report, WG presented 116 visited sacred sites in Issyk- Kol region. Only two of them have guardians. They are:
  1. Guardian of Manjil- Ata sacred site- Kadyrbek imam
  2. Guardian of Karakol- Ata sacred site- Tahir moldo
The members of WG pointed out during the field research local elder men helped very much. In spite of old age they climbed mountains with WG, walked long ways and showed ways to sacred sites never complaining of cold, although it was  on March and April there was still snow in the mountain villages.  Such people are residents of Jeti- Oguz village Burulkan eje and Alymbaev Temirkol ata from Ak- Dobo village who was born in 1924.
Schedule of one of the several small workshops for Issuk-Kol Working Group is below as a model according what Aigine has conducted field work around the lake.
The purpose of all workshops was to train and assist the WG on Issyk-Kol to collect and write down basic information about sacred sites in the oblast.
Prepared by Dr. Gulnara Aitpaeva