Kyrgyzstan: A head of a sheep


Since the very ancient times Kyrgyz considered the head of a sheep as a sign of respect and it could be given to the most honored guests - aksakals. And this ritual is observing in our days too, but it has some special details in different regions of Kyrgyzstan.  

For example, in Issyk-Kul or Narin region the head of a sheep is given to the youngest of the guests. They give the head of a sheep to the youngest man to wish him to be a strong man in the future. In the majority of cases the head is given to the oldest man to show him respect. Usually aksakal cuts a piece of meat and passes the head to his children, because chewing burned meat is hard for old man. And the point is the way of cocking meat. Before boiling meat in kazan (kind of caldron), head of a sheep is being burned on the open fire, and cleaned with hot water. It's called "kuyka" from the Kyrgyz word "kuykaloo" that means "burn with fire".  After that jaw is separated from the skull to have two different parts, and then these two pieces are put into the kazan. Kyrgyz never used sheep's head without the jaw, it still cocks together.    Before the host gives sheep's head to the guest, he has to cut the left ear and leave it for his son. The person who receives the head divides it in two parts and peeling the left one, cuts it to small pieces and puts them into a bowl.  Then he passes the bowl to the right side with the right hand. Guests taking the bow take a piece of it and continue passing it further to the right. At last, guest takes eyes away from the sheep's head and divides it in to pieces. One of them he leaves to himself, another one he gives to the next sitting person as a sight of eternal friendship. 

Welcome to Kyrgyzstan!