View More View Less
  • 1 Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest
Full access

One of the modernization conflicts of Kyrgyz and Kazak society is discussed in this article. It is the conflict between traditional religious activities, post-Soviet Islamic revival and fundamentalism. The Islamization process in Central Asia started during the Mongol Era (13th–16th centuries). The nomadic population was also influenced by Sufitradition in Central Asia that goes back to the 12th century, but it was labeled as shamanism during Soviet times. After the democratic changes and the declaration of religious freedom, some elements of this 1000-year-old tradition have been revived or revitalized. But the so-called official Islam, sponsored by Arabic states, has turned against the popular version of Islam by using the Soviet label of shamanic tradition. In reality, people practicing these traditions are devoted Muslims, they consider them to be pure Islamic traditions. But nationalist or ethnic religious movements, as well as urban esoteric practices, also incorporate elements of this tradition to legitimize their activities. This creates a very complex situation and a growing hostility between fundamentalist and traditional religious groups.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Aytpaeva, Gulnara 2007 Mazar Worship in Kyrgyzstan. Rituals and Practitioners in Talas. Bishkek: Aigine Cultural Research Center.

  • Basilov, Vladimir 1992 Shamanstvo u narodov Srednei Azii i Kazakhstana [Shamanism among the Peoples of Central Asia and Kazakhstan]. Moskva: Nauka.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bayalieva, Toktobubu 1972 Doislamskiie verovaniia i ikh perezhitki u kirgizov [Pre-Islamic Beliefs and their Remnants among the Kyrgyz]. Bishkek (Frunze): Ilim.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Beller-Hann, Ildiko 2004 Uyghur Healers (China). In Marico, N. Walter - Neumann FRIDMAN, Eva Jane (eds) Shamanism. An Encyclopedia of World Beliefs, Practices, and Culture, 642646. Santa Barbara, California: ABC Clio.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Deweese, Devin 1994 Islamization and Native Religion in the Golden Horde (Baba Tukles and the Conversion to Islam in Historical and Epic Tradition). University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Divaev, Abubakr 1899 Iz oblasti kirgizskikh verovanii, Baksï kak lekar‘ i koldun (Etnograficheskii ocherk) [From the Field of Kirgiz Folk Belief, Baksï as Healer and Sorcerer]. Izvestiia Obshchestva arkheologii, istorii i etnografii pri imperatorskom Kazanskom universitete 15(3):307341.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Golden, Peter B. 1992 An Introduction to the History of the Turkic Peoples. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

  • Grzywacz, Zuzanna 2010 Traditional Kazakh Medicine in Change. Poznan: Adam Mickiewicz University. (Turkic Studies 2.)

  • Kehl-Bodrogi, Krisztina 2006 The Reassertion of Religious Healing in Post-Soviet Uzbekistan. Asian Anthropology 5:111129.

  • Mélikoff, Irène 1989 Ahmed Yesevi and Turkic Popular Islam. Utrecht Papers on Central Asia 2:8394.

  • Somfai Kara, David 2003 Living Epic Traditions among Inner Asian Nomads. In Hoppal, Mihaly - Kosa, Gabor (eds) Rediscovery of Shamanic Heritage, 179194. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiado.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Somfai Kara, David 2004 On a Rare Kyrgyz Ritual. Shaman 12:161166.

  • Somfai Kara, David 2005 The Last Kazakh Baksï to Play the Kobïz. Shaman 13:181187.

  • Somfai Kara, David 2006a A mongol és belsô-àzsiai tôrôk népi hitvilàg szôkincsének ôsszehasonlitô nyelvi elemzése [A Comparative Linguistic Analysis of the Vocabulary Used to Express the Folk Beliefs of Mongolic and Turkic Peoples of Inner Asia], PhD dissertation. Budapest: ELTE BTK Nyelvtudomanyi Doktori Iskola.

    • Export Citation
  • Somfai Kara, David 2006b Batïrkan, a Kazakh Shaman from the Altay Mountains (Mongolia). Shaman 14:117138.

  • Somfai Kara, David 2007 The Sacred Valley of Jay Ata and a Kyrgyz Shaman from Xinjiang, China. Shaman 15:4768.

  • Somfai Kara, David 2008a Mazars and Shamans. An Animist Concept of Worshipping Nature in the Popular Islam among the Kyrgyz. In Hoppal, Mihaly - Simonkay, Zsuzsanna (eds): Shamans Unbound, 185192. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiado.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Somfai Kara, David 2008b An Uighur Baxsi from the Ile Valley, Kazakhstan. Shaman 16:143154.

  • Somfai Kara, David 2010 Baba Tukli and the Swan Girl. Legitimizing Elements in the Turkic Epic Edige. Acta OrientaliaASH 63:117132.

  • Cultural Studies SJR Quartile Score (2018): Q3
  • Music SJR Quartile Score (2018): Q3
  • Scimago Journal Rank (2018): 0.103
  • SJR Hirsch-Index (2018): 5

Language: English
Founded in 1950
Publication: One volume of four issues annually
Publication: biannually
Indexing and Abstracting Services:

  • Bibliographie Linguistique/Linguistic Bibliography
  • Elsevier GEO Abstracts
  • International Bibliographies IBZ and IBR
  • Sociological Abstracts
  • Worldwide Political Science Abstracts


Subscribers can access the electronic version of every printed article.

Senior editors

Editor-in-Chief: Ágnes Fülemile

Associate editor: Fruzsina Cseh; Zsuzsanna Cselényi

Review Editors: Csaba Mészáros; Katalin Vargha

Editorial Board

Click for the contact list

International Advisory Board

Click for the contact list

Further Credits

Translators: Elayne Antalffy; Zsuzsanna Cselényi; Michael Kandó

Layout Editor: Judit Mahmoudi-Komor

Cover Design: Dénes Kaszta

Manuscripts and editorial correspondence:

Acta Ethnographica Hungarica
Institute of Ethnology
Research Centre for the Humanities
Hungarian Academy of Sciences
H-1453 Budapest, Pf. 33

Mészáros, Csaba or Vargha, Katalin review editors
Institute of Ethnology
Research Centre for the Humanities
Hungarian Academy of Sciences
H-1453 Budapest, Pf. 33
E-mail: or

The author instruction is available in PDF.

Please, download the file from HERE