For many centuries
Tamgaly has been used for rituals and ceremonies. Most
carvings depict deer and hunting scenes, but there is
also a famous Buddha (or Shiva) drawing dated about 8th
c. AD. Some of the drawings were renewed in the Middle
Ages, and used in ceremonies till the XI th. century AD.
as a type of fine art, have appeared on the territory
of Kazakhstan since ancient times and have been preserved
until present. The many monuments of petroglyphic art
that have been discovered during recent years demonstrate
the peculiarities of artistic traditions of ancient tribes.
The most famous centers of petroglyphic fine art of Kazakhstan
are located in Semirechie (Land of the Seven Rivers in
Russian (Jetisu in Kazakhz), the historical name of South
East Kazakhstan). Although the history of studying similar
monuments is more than one hundred years, very little
was known about them until recently. At the end of the
1950s, a very unique sanctuary with petroglyphic paintings
of Tamgaly was discovered in the mountains of Anrakhai.
Research work on them started in the 1970-1980s. Another
outstanding monument, the sanctuary Eshkiolmes in the
valley Koksu, was discovered in the 1980s. More and more
collections of Petroglyphs are being discovered in Semirechie
territory. More than ten of these sites have been included
into this research work. The possibility to differentiate
the main phases of the development of petroglyphic art
in Kazakhstan became possible after these discoveries.
are currently, fifty discovered monuments in Semirechie,
where one can find paintings of petroglyphic art. The
most famous Petroglyphs are in the natural boundary Tamgaly,
in the valley of the river Koksu, among the Sholak, Kyndyktas,
Anrakhai, and Bayan Zhurek mountains. Along with these
outstanding sanctuaries, which include several thousand
petroglyphic paintings, there are also small groups of
with several hundreds or tens of painting Petroglyphs
on canyon walls, hills, and burial ground stones.
As a rule, there are other archeological monuments: settlings,
burial grounds, sacrificial altars, or cult constructions
located next to these Petroglyphs, which make it possible
to conduct complex research and give additional information
about Petroglyphs. The discovery of connections between
different types of monuments gives the opportunity to
consider them as a one entire system. This, in turn, considerably
widens the understanding of ancient art of Semirechie.
The main part of petroglyphic paintings of Western Semirechie
belongs to the Bronze Age. These types of paintings comprise
about 80-90% of the total number of Petroglyphs in this
region. They considerably differ from petroglyphic paintings
of Eastern Semirechie by their technical methods, style,
and character of location. The name of the largest sanctuary
"Petroglyphs of the Tamgaly tradition" was reserved for
the main group of Petroglyphs of Western Semirechie, which
were executed in a particular style.
The natural boundary of Tamgaly is located in 170 km.
to northwest of Almaty in the Anrakhai mountains. The
majority of Petroglyphs are located in the lower part
of the main canyon, and in a side canyon, which is adjacent
to it from the west, as well as in seven small canyons
that are located to the northwest of the main canyon.
The total number of paintings in the main canyon is approximately
2,000. All of them are conditionally divided into seven
groups. The numbering of the groups starts from the estuary
of the canyon. Here one can see the images of sun-headed
idols, disguised warriors, married couples, women in childbirth.
There are also compositions with many figures, portraying
images of people and animals in scenes of hunting and
bull sacrifice. Plots with the image of chariots are very
rare. There are many solar symbols.
These Petroglyphs are from various times, but they mostly
belong to the Bronze Age. Paintings done in the "animal"
style of the Saaks are located separately from the ancient
Petroglyphs. In some instances, however, they complete
them and even overlay them. Medieval petroglyphic images
have been hammered out on the hills that surround the
canyon, and on the sideward waterless small canyons.
The natural boundary Tamgaly is currently one of the most
ancient and outstanding monuments of petroglyphic art
The natural boundary Karakyr is located in 7 km. to northwest
of the main canyon Tamgaly on the north slope of the Anrakhai
mountains. Petroglyphic images are dispersed in the higher
part, as well as in the lower part of several hills. The
main part of the paintings, located in 2-3 layers, was
discovered on rocky edges of northern hill of the natural
For more information and images please refer to the source
of this text at http://tourkz.com/eng/articles/petrog1e_1.html
or to http://www.petroart.com
for more details on Central Asian Petroglyphs.