Nomad games, rediscovering heritage, celebrating diversity


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Selected in 2021 on the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices

© National Commission of the Kyrgyz Republic for UENSCO, 2020

Kyrgyz people’s cultural heritage is intrinsically linked to the nomadic lifestyle. However, during the Soviet era, which came with forced sedentation, many elements became endangered, including traditional games. After gaining independence in 1991, the local communities in Kyrgyzstan started working on revitalizing and celebrating their traditional culture. In this context, traditional game practitioners and knowledge bearers from different communities across the country held their first major meeting in 2007 to discuss current challenges for the traditional games and the safeguarding needs. The participants identified many challenges but agreed that some of them were very urgent: the first being the loss of knowledge about the traditional games and the second being the lack of interest among the younger generation to play the games. After long discussions and deliberations, the participants identified several safeguarding needs that shaped the Nomad Games: Rediscovering Heritage programme. The traditional game practitioners reached a consensus about the need to prioritize documentation and identification of traditional games in different parts of the country. These goals were prioritized because many people knowledgeable about traditional games were older and there was a real threat of losing their knowledge about traditional games unless it was documented.