The Legend of Kumis

Kumis the best known traditional drink of Kazakhstan. It is a fermented drink from mare’s milk. The important thing to remember is that kumis is never made from other animal’s milk. It is always horse milk. It is known to be very healthy and Kazakhs used it for a long time. But when people started to produce kumis? This probably happened when the horse was domesticated by humans. Besides the facts, there is also a beautiful legend about kumis. Here it goes:

There were rumours that the khan was looking for a groom for her daughter, who was famous for her incredible beauty and cheerful personality. There were three men who decided to fight for the love of the beautiful girl.

The first man was the son of a noble rich man, nobody was equal with him when he sat at a saddle. He was always the fastest. The second jigit (a skilful, brave man) was a joker with wits. He was also from a noble family. The third jigit was handsome with his body and soul, but he didn’t have a coin, he worked till morning until late at night, but didn’t bring prosperity to his family. When the whole village heard that they were going for the bride the buzzes were spread. And everybody thought that the third boy didn’t have any chances.

They needed to get prepared for the journey. As there was a desert between their village and khan’s place. The first jigit chose the fastest and beautiful camel for his journey through the desert. He took fruits and wine because only wine doesn’t spoil during a long journey.  When he went for the wine he saw the other jigit in the market. They started to bargain for the wine and the merchants smiled and raised the price three times. The first one proudly put the gold coins and took the best wine. And the second one got cheaper wine. He had only silver coins.  “Look, merchant, he thinks that he is the groom already, but I’m thinking why he bought only wine. Donkeys drink only water”.

While these two men were preparing for their journey, the mother of the third jigit was getting worried. She was thinking his boy was not a good match and he couldn’t survive travelling through the desert. She said to his boy. “What will you give to them? We are not wealthy and we can’t give them any gifts. The road is too far. It takes 7 days and nights to get there.”

“ Am I less of man than others? I want to try. I’ll think of something, I will take our camel”,- said the son.

“The camels will get sick. You won’t be able to reach your destination. What will you eat? We don’t have money for food and drinks. If you leave the village like this, I won’t see you again”,- the mother started crying.

“Don’t worry mother, just go to sleep. Everything will be alright”.

But his mother couldn’t sleep. She knew her son wouldn’t return from the desert alive. There was a long way to go. She didn’t know how to help her son. She was praying to God and asking for help. When she was sound asleep, she saw a dream. She was standing alone at the steppe one old man appeared. He said “I know you woman, you were always hard-working, you have a pure soul. I’m the spirit of your ancestors. I came to help you. He said the secret recipe to survive in the desert and disappeared. 

She woke up cheerfully, met his son and told him that she will cook and prepare everything for his journey. The son was surprised by the sudden change of her mother's opinion.

Alright, I will do as you say. The mother rushed to follow the instructions exactly the angel had advised. She milked her skinny mare and poured the fresh milk into large leather bags.

“I saw a dream and I believe you can overcome the journey. I’ve put milk with you, drink after three days. It will help you to overcome the thirst in the desert”

Although the son was hesitating, he followed the advice of his mother. When the three men started their journey, they laughed at the poor jigit and mocked him. However, only he had the powerful drink which helped to survive. The other two were almost dying from thirst, as all their food was useless, cause they were thirsty and the wine was turned into vinegar.

When the girl learned about the journey and how the kind jigit offered his magic drink to others and saved them, she immediately falls in love with him. Kumis helped the poor boy to reach his dream.

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