Please tell us about the activities of the Kazakh Research Institute of Culture.
I can say with pride that our Institute has a glorious history that began in 1933. This is the first specialized scientific institution of the young republic at the origins of which was the light of the Kazakh intelligentsia of that era, whose names are inscribed in golden letters in the history of science in Kazakhstan. These are the public and statesman Seytkali Mendeshev, military doctor and historian Sanjar Asfendiyarov, the founder of modern Kazakh literature, poet and writer Saken Seifullin, linguist-Turkologist and founder of Kazakh linguistics Sarsen Amanzholov and many others.
In general, the 20-30s of the twentieth century are characterized by a period of formation of science in Kazakhstan, therefore, the organization of a specialized scientific Institute dealing with issues of culture and art was an extremely important state task. It should be noted that it was during this period that the staff of the Institute carried out large-scale field expeditions to the hinterlands of Kazakhstan to collect unique samples of folklore, decorative and applied arts and other materials, which are still relevant and in demand.
In the future, on the basis of the Institute, an extensive network of scientific organizations was created, many of which are actively functioning today. This is the A. Baitursynov Institute of Linguistics, Institute of Literature and Art named after M. Auezov, Institute of History and Ethnology named after Ch. Valikhanov and many others. This fact, in itself, demonstrates how ambitious were the tasks of the Institute in the development of many areas of the humanities of Kazakhstan, i.e. The Kazakh Research Institute of Culture has been and is still the flagship of scientific research in the field of national culture and art.
I will not be mistaken if I say that over the entire period of the Institute's functioning, scientists have published more than a thousand volumes of scientific works, collections, articles and other literature, which undoubtedly constitute a treasury of scientific knowledge.
Could you elaborate on the projects being implemented by the Institute?
Today, the Institute continues to make a huge contribution to the development of Kazakhstan's humanitarian science, implementing diverse and large-scale projects in the field of archeology, ethnography, cultural studies, art history, etc. Thus, we have implemented many interesting projects over the past five years in the field of cultural studies and art history. Among them, "Artists of modern Kazakhstan", "Traditional animalistic images and motives in the art and culture of nomads (antiquity, the Middle Ages and modern times"), "Issues of integrating the culture of Kazakhstan into the global cultural space and innovative processes in culture", "National identity of Kazakhs of Central Asia and Europe in artifacts ”and many others.
The research workers of the Institute are especially attracted by projects aimed at popularizing the rich cultural heritage of Kazakhstan. These are such projects as: "Map of localization of historical and cultural objects, as well as places of general pilgrimage in Kazakhstan with the attachment of necessary materials (historical facts, legends, myths)" and a number of new planned projects aimed at increasing the tourist attractiveness of the country. Within the framework of this project, a unique interactive 3D map of historical and cultural objects of Kazakhstan has been created, which is actively used by the general public both for educational purposes and for organizing virtual travel.
In addition, in order to popularize the heritage of Kazakhstan, the Institute is engaged in the production of popular science and documentary films, in cooperation with well-known Kazakhstani producers and screenwriters - Bakhyt Kairbekov, Alexey Kamensky, etc. In our creative baggage, the films loved by the audience: "Under the eternal eye of heaven" ( 2016), dedicated to the 550th anniversary of the Kazakh Khanate, "Marco Polo Silk Road" (2016), "Revival of Turkestan: Kultobe settlement" (2019) and others. Many films have won international and republican awards and prizes.
We are especially proud of the fact that we are the developers of the Concept of Cultural Policy of the Republic of Kazakhstan (2014), the Law "On Cinematography" (2019) and other normative legal documents in the field of culture and art.
The institute projects in the field of philology, which are carried out under the leadership of the eminent scientist Alexander Garkavets, are of big importance. Recently, the translation into the state language and the preproduction of the excellent book by the Italian traveler Marco Polo about the diversity of the world have been completed.
Also, within the framework of the archaeological projects of the Institute, studies of ancient Otrar, unique monuments of Berel, the most ancient settlement of horse breeders Botai and others have been implemented and are being implemented. These projects headed by the masters of Russian science - Zainolla Samashev, Victor Seibert and others.
A huge contribution to the development of the history and archeology of Kazakhstan is made by the publications of well-known domestic scientists A. Tairov, “Early nomads of the Zhaiyk-Irtysh interfluve in the VIII-VI centuries. BC.", S. Zholdasbayev’s "Kazakh elinin XV – XVIII kasyrlardagy turakty meken zhaylary", V. Varfolomeyev’s “Kent - a city of the Bronze Age in the center of the Kazakh steppes”and others. Famous Kazakhstani historian Irina Erofeyeva contributed a lot to the study of the cultural heritage of nomads within the framework of institute projects.
At the same time, each of the projects of our Institute are distinguished by their depth and complexity, where, in addition to the main specific design tasks, a number of related ones are solved, i.e. the priority approach is multilevel and interdisciplinary, as well as social character.
The well-known project for the restoration of the archaeological sites of the Kultobe settlement arouses great public interest. What work is being done by the Institute within the framework of this project?
The project for the restoration of historical objects of ancient Kultobe is carried out on the initiative of the First President of Kazakhstan-Elbasy Nursultan Nazarbayev, the results of which were presented to the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev during his working trips to Turkestan. In general, the project is truly unique, both in its content and in scientific directions. It demonstrates the synergy between business and science, becoming a vivid example of high results in the development of domestic science, thanks to the personal attention and control of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan Askar Mamin.
The main sponsor of the project is the international company Eurasian Resources Group (ERG). Eurasian Resources Group supports many social initiatives in the country, the project “Restoration of historical sites of the Kultobe settlement” is one of the largest. And the fact that the company in such a difficult time pays great attention to history, culture and science, demonstarate the deep social responsibility of domestic business.
This is a large-scale project in Kazakhstan, which clearly demonstrates the fruitful merger of humanitarian science and modern technologies, where different areas of scientific knowledge are integrated - archeology, history, restoration, ethnography, cultural studies, art history, etc. In the process of exploring the settlement, we rely on the synthesis of traditional methods and modern digital technologies: georadar scanning, photogrammetry, 3D modeling.
In parallel with archaeological work, conservation and partial restoration work is being carried out on unique historical monuments of raw architecture, work is being actively carried out on ethnographic, cultural and art history research. The settlement itself Kultobe, stretching over 27 hectares, is a very interesting historical monument, which is the most ancient monument of the urban culture of Kazakhstan. It traces its history back to the ancient era - the era of the Kangyui state, lasting continuously until the beginning of the twentieth century. Here is the most ancient cruciform temple - the discoverer of which is the famous archaeologist Erbulat Smagulov, religious premises with altars, ritual premises of ancient Sufis, entire quarters of ancient craft workshops, residential buildings with aivans, mosques, madrasas and much more.
Each site of the settlement is a whole era, demonstrating the multifaceted history of the Great Steppe, replacing peoples, ethnic groups, cultures, religions, etc., and it is this settlement that is considered the ancestor of ancient Turkestan - the capital of the Kazakh Khanate and, at the same time, the sacred center of the entire Turkic oecumene. Thus, the sacralization of this place, which, according to Pierre Nora's classification, can be called a “place of memory” (even a place of collective memory) began in the ancient era and was strengthened thanks to the activities of the great Sufi preacher and poet Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, whose mausoleum is located literally 300 meters from the settlement. This mausoleum still attracts huge numbers of tourists and pilgrims from all over the world.
This city, being called Shavgar-Yasy-Turkestan in different historical periods, was famous for its original style of ceramics, its own mint, unique jewelry production, etc.
All this together allowed us to develop a scientifically grounded concept of a one-of-a-kind open-air archaeological park for the Kultobe settlement. The concept of the park and its implementation is based on the recommendations of the world's leading scientists in this field - UNESCO and ICOMOS experts Dr. Michael Jansen, a specialist in historical and cultural heritage Ona Vileikis Tamayo and others.
We are confident that this project will popularize not only the cultural heritage of Kazakhstan, but the entire Great Silk Road as an intercultural phenomenon, a catalyst for cultural diversity, a dialogue of civilizations and religions that has flourished in Kazakhstan forever. This will undoubtedly help to strengthen the country's international image.
In the course of work on the project "Restoration of historical objects of the Kultobe settlement", scientists have discovered many amazing artifacts. Artifacts testify to aspects of the cultural heritage of ancient Turkestan. Please tell us about the most unique artifacts discovered during the work on the project.
Yes, in the process of archaeological research of the settlement, a wide variety of artifacts were discovered - ceramics, jewelry made of gold, silver and other metals, rich numismatic material, fragments of textiles, old books and much more.
The treasure of gold jewelry of the Kanguy era, ritual objects made of ceramics and alabaster of the early Middle Ages, silver jewelry, beads, all kinds of bracelets, a huge number of ceramic items dating from antiquity to the end of the 19th century, as well as working tools of Turkestan artisans stand out.
This year alone, scientists discovered about 20,000 fragments of ceramic vessels, from which about 500 fragmentary and archaeologically intact vessels were selected and sketched, which is considered a great rarity. At the moment, the restorers have restored samples of rare yellow-colored glazed ceramics with paintings in brown, greenish, orange and other colors, dating from the 16th – 18th centuries. But, in general, the Kultobe ceramics dating from the 15th – 18th centuries is distinguished by a bright and rich color, a kind of compositional interpretation of foliage, buds and flowers, i.e. the decor of Kultobin ceramics, being a regional offshoot of the famous "Timurid style", is typologically close to the group of Iranian ceramics.
Also, when studying cultural layers, a large amount of numismatic material was found, represented by both copper and silver coins, the oldest of which dates back to the middle of the 2nd century. This coin is a sensational find belonging to the artifacts of the legendary Kushan empire that existed in the territory of modern Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, North India and East Turkestan, i.e. ancient Bactria. Culturally, the Kushans were greatly influenced by the Hellenistic culture, and their writing is based on the ancient Greek alphabet. In political and economic terms, this empire collaborated with China, Parthia, the Roman Empire, the Sasanian state and East Turkestan. The find of a Kushan coin at the site of Kultobe once again emphasizes the enormous economic ties that existed between the countries in the ancient era. And, each coin or any other artifact found at the Kultobe settlement can tell a lot more about the historical, cultural, socio-economic and ethnic ties of ancient Turkestan with the entire Old World.
Among the Kultobe artifacts, the fragments of textiles also attract attention - a very rare category of finds, which mainly date back to the 18th - 19th centuries, for example, there are details of textiles from a very interesting ethnographic community of Central Asia, which in science is called Bukharian Jews. By the way, the issue of the history of Bukharian Jews in Turkestan is poorly studied in domestic science.
No less interesting are old books, presumably explanations to the Koran, which prove the existence of classrooms, madrasahs, etc. on the territory of the settlement. More details about the project results can be found on the official websites of the Kultobe Settlement Archaeological Park www.kultobe.com and our Institute www.cultural.kz
Kazakh Research Institute of Culture has established fruitful cooperation with many international organizations. Please tell us about cooperation.
Due to the diverse work of the Institute, we interact with UNESCO, ICOMOS, TURKSOY, IICAS, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY and other international and domestic organizations. Partnerships have been established with the Smithsonian Institution (USA), the New York Academy of Motion Picture Arts (USA), the State Hermitage Museum (Russia), the Nae Leonard Musical Theatre Galati (Romania), the Ban Ki-moon Institute for Sustainable Development, the Italian Institute of Design (Italy), Association of national museums of France (France) and other foreign institutions.
We have a huge number of plans, we intend to further strengthen both international and domestic partnerships with scientific and educational organizations in the field of culture and art in order to preserve and popularize the rich cultural heritage of Kazakhstan.
Publication Date: 27.08.2020
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