The culture of Kyrgyzstan is heavily influenced by the traditions from nomadic life. Kyrgyz culture features influences from Russia, Persia, and Turkey, but yet remains something entirely unique. Nature influences are prominent, from the designs to the music, and many traditions reflect the fact that nomads lived closely with nature. Perhaps the most well known aspect of Kyrgyz culture is the Epic of Manas, an incredibly long poem passed down orally for generations. As nomads, the Kyrgyz people always lived closely with nature. From their housing to their clothing, everything was designed to adapt to changing weather and locations. Yurts are easy to take apart and carry, and can be made warmer for winter, and cooler for summer. The textiles inside of yurts, such as shyrdaks and tush kyiz (felt rugs and embroidered hangings), take their inspiration from designs found in nature, such as plants, animals, and landscapes. Even clothing was made out of natural materials, and designed to be comfortable while still stylish. Horses were, and still are, central to Kyrgyz culture. They provided not only transportation, but played crucial roles in wars and even cuisine. Kumis, or kymyz, is made from mare’s milk, and some traditional dishes feature horse meat. Horses traditionally played roles in courtship and marriage ceremonies, and could be used as payment or as dowries. Some instruments were even designed so that they could be played on horseback, and the beat of hooves can be heard in traditional Kyrgyz music. It’s no surprise then that horsemanship is valued in Kyrgyz culture. Sports are ways to develop both riders and horses, and to make both better prepared for hunting and battle. Competitions testing dogs and birds of prey on their speed and accuracy found the best hunters, who would be essential in the winter. Many of these elements can still be found today, though Kyrgyzstan is also still a modern country. People are proud of the culture in Kyrgyzstan, and events are held to make sure that it is kept alive and promoted. Visitors can expect to be immersed in these nomadic and traditional elements, especially if they stay with a host family.