The Legend of Bugu Tribe

Since ancient times the Bugu tribe has lived on the shores of Issyk-Kul. According to some sources, this is the first Kyrgyz tribe that settled on the land of modern Kyrgyzstan. According to some scientists, the descendants of Mother Deer came to the Tien Shan from the upper Yenisei in the IX century, and maybe even earlier. They sacredly believed in their legend about the Mother Deer passing it from generation to generation. Their name is also connected with Mother Deer, as bugu is translated as deer from Kyrgyz. Until today, this story has come down in the form of a beautiful legend, the variations of which are different, but the most beautiful and popular version probably is presented in Chingiz Aitmatov’s story “The White Ship”.

The legend of the bugu tribe and Mother Deer starts on the banks of the Yenisei river. Once a beautiful bird with a human voice warned people about an upcoming disaster. But people didn’t pay attention to her prophecy. Soon their leader Kulchoo died. During the funeral a loud noise was heard- it was from their enemies. They attacked and killed everyone on the site.

Only two children, who were in the forest picking mushrooms, survived from the Kyrgyz tribe. When they returned home, they found that their parents, all their relatives and friends were dead. The houses were destroyed and there was blood everywhere. They went and wandered through the forests in the hope for food and help. Finally, they heard human voices from the mountain, but when they got closer it turned out to be their enemies. They were so hungry that they dared to ask for food. One old woman took pity on them and gave them boiled meat. When khan learned about the presence of Kyrgyz children in the camp, he got angry and ordered the woman to kill them.

The poor woman led the children to a rock above the Yenisei river to throw them down. She prayed for children and asked them to forgive her. When she prepared to throw them off out of a sudden a big deer with a human voice and black eyes appeared. She told the woman that she wants to nurse the children. Hunters killed her children and she had plenty of milk, with which she could feed them. She would take care of them. The woman was astonished but she relented and gave the children to deer.

Children followed the deer and she took them far away to the mountains of Lake Issyk-Kul, where she raised them. When they grew up, they married and had two sons- Tynymsejit and Alesejit. They called their new tribe Bugu- the tribe of the Mother Deer.

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