The SRAS Guide to Fermented Milk

Russia and Eurasia offer what can seem to be a bewildering selection of dairy products in their transnational food cultures. An area of special note, and often one of the strangest to Westerners, is the seemingly never-ending assortment of fermented milk drinks in the Russian gastronomic repertoire. To cut down on the brow-furrowing and sometimes […]

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Eagle Training in Kyrgyzstan: Witnessing a Tradition

SRAS students studying abroad in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on the Central Asian Studies Porgram often have the opportunity to visit Lake Issyk-Kul as part of their program abroad. This semester, the local excursions into the surrounding mountains included a presentation on local traditions surrounding eagle training. Golden eagles have been used for hunting in Kyrgyzstan for […]

At Home in Sakha: Sheltering in the Coldest Place on Earth

The original Sakha is given for some terms in parentheses. The Sakha Republic, or Sakha Sire (Саха сирэ), is the largest republic in Russia, more than 4.5 times the size of the American state of Texas. Its territories are a mixture of mountains, broad plateaus, and river and coastal lowlands. Although summers can be quite […]

The Dombyra: The Kazakh’s Musical Soul

The dombyra (домбыра) is a lute-style instrument. It is an ancient and quintessential piece of Kazakh culture and identity. In its most popular form, the dombyra has two-strings strung down a long, skinny neck and a pear-shaped body, flat at the front and rounded on the backside. The standard English spelling of dombra is taken […]

Nowruz: A Spring New Year of Modern National Pride

Nowruz is a spring solstice celebration that marks the beginning of the New Year according to the traditional Persian calendar. It has been a beloved holiday for some 3,000 years, surviving cultural change caused by centuries of tumultuous history. It is now celebrated on the set date of March 21st. The holiday has long been […]

Samsa: A Tasty Pastry of the Silk Road

The самса (samsa) is a meat- or vegetable-filled savory pastry. They are both слоеная (flaky) and хрустящая (crispy). They are enjoyed across the former USSR, where they are most associated with Central Asian cuisine. The самса originated in the Middle East and spread across the Шелковый путь (Silk Road), reaching Central Asia, India, and Africa. […]

The Games of Dygyn: History, Sport, and Honor in the Sakha Republic

The original Sakha is given for some terms in parentheses. Photographs provided by Mitrofan kyyha Varvara Egorova-Dygyia, Susan Crate, and Kathryn Yegorov-Crate. The Games of Dygyn or the Dygyn oonn’uulara (Дыгын оонньуулара), as they are known locally, is a multisport competition held in the Republic of Sakha, located in Siberia. It is comprised of seven […]

Sakha Traditional Clothing: How to Dress in the Coldest Place on Earth

The original Sakha is given for some terms in parentheses. Photographs provided by Mitrofan kyyha Varvara Egorova-Dygyia, Susan Crate, and Kathryn Yegorov-Crate. The Sakha Republic, known as Sakha sire (Саха сирэ) in the Sakha language, is home to one of the most extreme climates on earth. Winter temperatures regularly dip past -45F, making it the […]

Baursak: The Donut of Hospitality

Throughout much of Central Asia, one type of bread stands out from all the rest – баурсак (baursak). These small pieces of fried dough are known throughout Central Asia among many of the Turkic and Mongolian-speaking peoples there. In Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan especially, they are served as everyday fare accompanied by tea and are staple […]

Beshbarmak: The Rich, Meaty Pasta from Central Asia

Бешбармак (beshbarmak) is a dish enjoyed throughout Central Asia as well as regions of Russia and China. It consists of boiled meat served on a bed of thick, flat noodles and covered in an onion sauce called туздык (tuzdyk). A meal both hearty and delicious, бешбармак is particularly popular in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan where it […]

Yhyakh: A Summer New Year in the Coldest Place on Earth

The original Sakha is given for some terms in parentheses. Photographs provided by Mitrofan kyyha Varvara Egorova-Dygyia, Susan Crate, and Kathryn Yegorov-Crate. Yhyakh (ыһыах) is the Sakha people’s annual summer festival during which Sakha make offerings to sky deities known as aiyy (айыы) and make merry before the laborious hay-cutting season. Yhyakh is often rendered […]

The Talking Yakut (Sakha) Phrasebook

The Talking Phrasebook Series presents useful phrases and words in side-by-side translation and with audio files specifically geared to help students work on listening skills and pronunciation. Each entry below, divided by category, features an English word or phrase in the left column and its Russian translation in the right. The Russian is presented in […]

Kyrgyz Holidays 2021: A Complete Guide

Kyrgyz holidays include many inherited from the USSR (although most of those have changed their form at least slightly). Kyrgyz holidays also include many adopted from Russian culture. However, many holidays have now been added to the callendar to celebrate patriotism toward independent Kyrgyzstan and Kyrgyzstan’s long-held Muslim heritage. Thus, Soviet and federal as well […]

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