The challenge of the time: reproduction of forgotten traditions in the modern Kazakh culture 

Stasevich I.V.  


Vestnik arheologii, antropologii i etnografii, 2021, 2 (53)


              page 146154




This paper is based on the materials on the traditional and modern Kazakh culture. The author analyzes some ritual practices of the life cycle, which are founded on the traditional scenario but understood by the modern Kazakhs at a new level and often are vested with a new sense and significance. The main sources of the conducted research are represented by the field observations of the author and information from the Kazakh Internet resources concerning the problems of administering principal life-cycle rituals. Regular and systematic field investigations allow us to register the dynamics of formation and evolution of such practices over a fairly short time span of within 1015 years. It is this period over which they can develop from innovation into tradition. This approach provides possibility of studying the forms and the way of the transformation of a tradition from the historical perspective. The author pays special attention to the strategies of sustaining the continuity in present-day life-cycle ritualism and to the mechanisms of the formation of the local and regional identity in present-day conditions. Locally synchronous view of the tradition demonstrates the reflection of the individual on the challenge of the time, their ability to adapt to the changing external and internal conditions. This dynamic provides the very process of the transformation of the traditions, reconsideration of the regional initiatives imposed from above and their transition into local variants. Each tradition had once been an innovation; examination of the modern forms of ritua-lism over a short time span allows capturing the process of establishing new customs, behavioral stereotypes, and the ways of their preservation and propagation over several decades. Innovations appear, as a rule, in the periods of relative social and cultural instability, when a certain discontinuity occurs between the worldview and ideological norms of the generations in response to the changing conditions of their existence. In the present-day Kazakh culture, the pace of alteration of the rites is considerably higher than that in a traditional society; however, the current demand for the ritual accompaniment of the stages of the human life cycle warrants reproduction of main traditional practices and creation of new practices on the basis of rethinking of the traditional patterns.

Key words: Kazakhs, life-cycle rites, reproduction of traditions, regional and local identity.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Accepted: 25.02.2020

Article is published: 28.05.2021


Stasevich I.V., Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) RAS, Universitetskaya nab., 3, St. Petersburg, 199034, Russian Federation, -mail:,