Fate of the nomad

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Nomadic cattle-breeding is the main method of managing the steppe farming. And, under the local extensive farming, it is perhaps the only one. It is a striking example of human adaptation to the life conditions, which are not really adaptable.

Outside observers often see only perpetual motion that they consider as a natural "restlessness" of the steppe people, but in fact it was based on a rigid material basis. It is just like the migratory birds that have to overcome great distances twice a year to find food (a few people know that they leave warm Africa for the same reason that they leave cold Siberia – famine of the dry period); and Steppe residents had to move with their herds from winter pastures (kstau) to summer (dzhaylyau), and adapt their lives, culture and world-view to this perpetual motion.

Cattle is the material basis of nomadism, it defined mobile nature of tribes and people associated their lives with the fate of the steppes and mountains of Eurasia. Cattle was everything! It was not only the foundation of the economy, but also an indicator of the life of every member of the community (and the place in the hierarchy), and basic universal means of payment (for goods and work, and later - for the bride), and "laurel branch " of winners (in the race – baiga, in akyns competitions - aityses, etc.). And it was even an important legal element of the "satisfaction" of the injured party by the laws of customary law.

It is enough to remember that barymta, which eventually degenerated into a banal theft of livestock, initially, was considered as local version of "vendetta" and the element of customary law. And it was more humane and "modern", by the way, than the traditions of Caucasus and Southern Italy people - offended people punished the guilty ones economically by hijacking herd. And did not try to take neighbor's life.


They roamed year after year, century after century, millennium after millennium. It is just one way and no other. When, inevitably, the moment came that the steppe was no longer able to feed its growing human population – waves of people spilled beyond its borders. And then settled world shuddered. But it was too late - the hordes of horsemen indifferent to death, in their lust for life, were breaking out of their spaces, took the Great Wall of China in one's stride, spread over the flourishing oases of Central Asia, looted and burned the "eternal cities" of Europe.

But time passed, everyone took their new seats, and usual order was restored in the Steppe. And prosperity began, which, however, already concealed in its heart the seed of future shocks.

Many years of rejection and misunderstanding have gone by, before the "civilized world" understood the true nature of the steppe nomadism. The darkest chapter in this history was era of violent "landing" of nomads on the ground. What, according to Stalin ideology, had to in accelerated rate lead steppe people to a bright future.

But it led to the terrible famine that killed millions of lives: Kazakhs, Kalmyks, Turkmens, Buryats, Kyrgyz, Altais in the 30s. It always happens when someone tries to break everything overnight, even in the name of some "greater good."

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