GULNUR MUKAZHANOVA

"Mankurts in the Megapolis"

The subject of my project is the white wedding dress, as well as the vanishing of the traditional Kazakh wedding dress. This topic is connected directly with the problem of identity not only in Kazakhstan, especially with the loss of cultural values.


The title of my projekt "Mankurts in the Megapolis" reflects this loss of traditional values, as well as the fact, that we have forgotten our origins.

In Central Asia we have the concept of mankurtism, which describes the loss of the national roots, the traditional values and culture. Previously it referred to slaves, called Mankurts, who completely lost the memory of their past live by undergoing a special, torturelike treatment. Today we use this term to describe people who have, consciously or unconsciously, adopted other cultural values. This loss of memory concerns the manners, the morals and even the language, which are being replaced by other values. One of the causes of this phenomenon in our time is globalization.

  The form of the modern wedding gown is a symbol and it’s meaning is understood worldwide. It is the most important, and beautiful garment for most women in most countries.In earlier times, when each culture had its own original form of the bridal gown, it was able to show the immense wealth of ritual and cultural diversity. Since the beginning of the 20th century the white bridal fashion has been established almost all over the world, and many people regard it as a deeply rooted tradition.

  Modern life in Kazakhstan with its new sets of values has become so natural, that it seems almost impossible to connect with the ancient nomadic traditions. Perhaps it would also be not suitable anymore. Now, since we are no longer nomads, I would like to know, what should we keep and what should we give up, as a new generation? What do we need to keep in mind in this present process of change?

If we want to keep certain traditions, it seems important to me to be able to believe in these traditions, and not just to imitate their exterior superficially, as it is often seen in the new designs of the Saukele, where the originally meaningful symbols have deteriorated to a primitive form of ornamentation. But at least, concerning those traditions that still exist today, we should appreciate the meaning and the wisdom, which they contain, and which has been passed on to us by our ancestors!

Considering and reflecting upon all this, one wonders whether it makes any sense at all to deal with this issue, or if it would better to simply live in the flow of these events without thinking about them?

However, in my opinion, if we want to be able to meet this process of change quietly, without just being a part of the bulk, getting lost in uniformity, one of the essential factors within our thinking and feeling is, to know who we are!