Saymaluu-Tash National Park

Petroglyphs museum in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan near the village of Kazarman


The small Kazarman village stands on the Naryn river in the Jalal-Abad region of Kyrgyzstan, at an altitude of 1310 m above sea level, near the Makmal gold ore deposit, south-east of the Kugart pass. In winter heavy snowfall might cut the village off civilization.  Therefore, the best time to visit these places is from June to September.

Kazarman is famous for the fact that it’s the closest locality to 32 hectares Saymaluu-Tash State Park (Saimaluu Tashili, Saimaly Tash) ​​, that is 30 km south  in the Ayrymach-tau mountains on the northeastern slope of the Fergana Range. It has gained a title of state-protected area on May 25, 2001.  The lowest point of The Saymaluu Tash Park is located at an altitude of 2,800 meters above sea level, while the highest is at 3,450 meters. Here, among distant mountain peaks a huge number of ancient rock paintings have been discovered.

The Saymaluu Tash tract (in Kyrgyz, “drawn stone”) is one of the world's largest petroglyphs galleries dating back to the Bronze and Early Iron Age. They say that people at that time were not as tall and strong as we are today, but, probably, they were very dexterous and sturdy. Try, move at least one of the huge rough boulders lined up in the correct geometric order around petroglyphs. Power of ten people is not enough! In addition, most people have head noises at this height. We, the modern humans, are clearly losing strength with a lack of oxygen. After all, our ancestors wandered here from sai to sai (i.e. -small rapid mountain river), through gullies, scree, making their way through the hollows to the rocky wall, suitable for a canvas for a pictorial drawing. The number of drawings placed on a small plateau of the Fergana mountain range is simply amazing!

In the Saymaluu Tash tract there are numerous outputs of basalt. This rock is strong and tough. Smooth blocks suitable for rock art can be obtained only if splitting a whole basalt rock. Ancestors probably managed to do it. Then - a matter of primitive technique the artist, point by point, cleaved pieces of basalt and transferred his impressions to the stone.

The most ancient drawings,  by one count about 10,000 in total, each on a separate stone, belong to the III - early II millennium BC (the Neolithic and Bronze Age). These are mostly symbolic images of animals and humans, with the torso and heads carved out in the form of rectangles and bitriangles. There are scenes of tillage or chariot riding, also with entirely horses, people that are triangular, rectangular and rhombic.

After a thousand years, at the beginning of the first millennium BC, the drawings lost their geometrical structure, became scratchy and even more primitive. The quality turned into quantity, the artists of rock art began to work faster and more carelessly, portraying mostly hunting and domestication scenes. Further primitive society art progress, apparently, went backward. Most likely, there came third group of ancient people, which tried to imitate their predecessors, however with even less talent and patience. Their drawings are even simpler, scratchier, lacking small details completely. The picture themes remained the same - hunting scenes, ritual dances, sun- and moon-faced deities in chariots and carts, dances of human-like creatures with dog-like heads and big-fingered hands, animals - leopards, wolves, goats, deer, birds and reptiles, horses, bulls and yaks. The figures are lonely and static, the lines are rough, and proportions are approximate, symbolic geometric signs - the so-called skeletal technique.

There is something to see. However, you should use the imagination to see the plot in ancient masters’ drawings. Nevertheless, do not pity the time spent. The beauty of the Saymaluu Tash National Park is in its ancient history, and imagination that allows you to go back to the third millennium BC and look at the world through the distant ancestor’s eyes.

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