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Tamgaly Petroglyphs Photo: Thomas SimoneitTamgaly Petroglyphs

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.


Tamgaly Petroglyphs Photo: Thomas SimoneitPetroglyphs, 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.

Tamgaly Petroglyphs Photo: Thomas SimoneitThere 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 of Semirechie.

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 boundary.

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.
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