Kazakh Nomad Calendar -- a short description (by popular request)

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Kazakh Nomad Calendar -- a short description (by popular request)

Peter Meyer
THE KAZAKH NOMAD CALENDAR

For thousands of years ethnic Kazakhs roamed the steppes of what is now
Kazakhstan. They were nomads, who lived by grazing sheep and goats, and
who traveled by horse and camel. They lived in moveable round tents
call "yurts", at the apex of which was a hole through which the Moon
and stars could be observed, which they did often, and discussed among
themselves. Consequently, even without a written language, the nomads
managed to develop a remarkable lunisolar calendar based on the
relation in the sky between the Moon and the Pleiades star cluster
(a.k.a. the "Seven Sisters").

The principles underlying the Kazakh Nomad calendar are quite simple.
The beginning of a month coincides with the moment when the Moon passes
the Pleiades in the sky (as observed in Kazakhstan). The ordinary lunar
month has 29 or 30 days, but a lunar sidereal month has 27 or 28 days,
so each meeting of the Pleiades and the Moon occurs at a lunar phase
that is 2 days earlier than the lunar phase of the previous meeting.

The Kazakh nomads developed their calendar for meteorological and
agricultural purposes. Thus they needed a seasonal calendar. They
managed to do this by dividing the sequence of months into years, with
the first month of a year beginning on the night at which a crescent
moon first becomes visible (following the 2 or 3 days when the Moon is
invisible, called a "dark moon"). It happens that a new year always
begins either 13 or 14 months after the previous new year. Furthermore,
a 13-month year (almost) always has either 355 or 356 days, and a
14-month year (almost) always has either 382 or 383 days.

Thus the Nomad Calendar is a solilunar calendar, meaning that it tracks
not only the Moon (which returns to the Pleiades once each calendar
month) but also the Sun, because a new year always occurs sometime in
(what we know as) April or May, so the year, although not exactly a
solar year, is approximately a seasonal year.

The months were not numbered in the traditional nomad calendar, instead
they were named as with a "togys" number, e.g. "25 togys", "23 togys",
..., "3 togys".  The togys number is approximately the number of days
of since the previous dark moon on the 1st day of the month.

Like the Chinese, the Kazakh nomads named years by using a cycle of 12
animal names. In order they are "Mouse", "Cow", "Leopard", "Hare",
"Wolf", "Snake", "Horse", "Sheep", "Monkey", "Hen", "Dog" and "Boar".
The sequence of years was thus divided into 12-year cycles.

As already stated, each month in the Nomad Calendar has either 27 or 28
days. Thus, unlike months in the Gregorian Calendar whose months
consist mostly of four 7-day weeks plus 2 or 3 days more), every month
in the Nomad Calendar can be partitioned into three 7-day weeks plus a
final week of either 6 or 7 days. This makes scheduling events much
easier than with the Gregorian Calendar.

Further information about the Kazakh Nomad Calendar can be found in the
book by K. A. Kambar entitled "National Calendar of Kazakhstan" (at
present available only in the Kazakh language) and at the web page at
https://www.hermetic.ch/cal_stud/knc/Kazakh_Nomad_Calendar.htm
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Re: Kazakh Nomad Calendar -- a short description (by popular request)

k.palmen@btinternet.com
Dear Peter and Calendar People

Kaldarhan originally mentioned a Kazakh nomad calendar, which used a 273-day cycle like the Maya calendar used a 260-day cycle. This 273-day cycle is about 0.2 day short of 10 sidereal months.

This calendar is different from this. It is like the Chinese calendar, except that the sidereal month is used instead of synodic month and the 'new moon' is when the moon passes the pleiades. The years thus have one more month than in the Chinese calendar. Also the reckoning of leap years (years with an extra month) is simpler than in the Chinese calendar. The first month of the year is simply when the start of the month coincides with the first crescent.

The togys naming of the months relies on being able the predict the next new year a year in advance, because the leap month (29 togys) is the second month of the year.

The togys number gives an approximate day of month of the new moon. This can be improved by reckoning the new moon one day earlier from 29 togys in a leap year to the next 1 togys.

Karl

Tuesday Gamma November 2018

17(11(06 from noon


----Original message----
From : [hidden email]
Date : 13/11/2018 - 08:18 (GMT)
To : [hidden email]
Subject : Kazakh Nomad Calendar -- a short description (by popular request)

THE KAZAKH NOMAD CALENDAR

For thousands of years ethnic Kazakhs roamed the steppes of what is now
Kazakhstan. They were nomads, who lived by grazing sheep and goats, and
who traveled by horse and camel. They lived in moveable round tents
call "yurts", at the apex of which was a hole through which the Moon
and stars could be observed, which they did often, and discussed among
themselves. Consequently, even without a written language, the nomads
managed to develop a remarkable lunisolar calendar based on the
relation in the sky between the Moon and the Pleiades star cluster
(a.k.a. the "Seven Sisters").

The principles underlying the Kazakh Nomad calendar are quite simple.
The beginning of a month coincides with the moment when the Moon passes
the Pleiades in the sky (as observed in Kazakhstan). The ordinary lunar
month has 29 or 30 days, but a lunar sidereal month has 27 or 28 days,
so each meeting of the Pleiades and the Moon occurs at a lunar phase
that is 2 days earlier than the lunar phase of the previous meeting.

The Kazakh nomads developed their calendar for meteorological and
agricultural purposes. Thus they needed a seasonal calendar. They
managed to do this by dividing the sequence of months into years, with
the first month of a year beginning on the night at which a crescent
moon first becomes visible (following the 2 or 3 days when the Moon is
invisible, called a "dark moon"). It happens that a new year always
begins either 13 or 14 months after the previous new year. Furthermore,
a 13-month year (almost) always has either 355 or 356 days, and a
14-month year (almost) always has either 382 or 383 days.

Thus the Nomad Calendar is a solilunar calendar, meaning that it tracks
not only the Moon (which returns to the Pleiades once each calendar
month) but also the Sun, because a new year always occurs sometime in
(what we know as) April or May, so the year, although not exactly a
solar year, is approximately a seasonal year.

The months were not numbered in the traditional nomad calendar, instead
they were named as with a "togys" number, e.g. "25 togys", "23 togys",
..., "3 togys".  The togys number is approximately the number of days
of since the previous dark moon on the 1st day of the month.

Like the Chinese, the Kazakh nomads named years by using a cycle of 12
animal names. In order they are "Mouse", "Cow", "Leopard", "Hare",
"Wolf", "Snake", "Horse", "Sheep", "Monkey", "Hen", "Dog" and "Boar".
The sequence of years was thus divided into 12-year cycles.

As already stated, each month in the Nomad Calendar has either 27 or 28
days. Thus, unlike months in the Gregorian Calendar whose months
consist mostly of four 7-day weeks plus 2 or 3 days more), every month
in the Nomad Calendar can be partitioned into three 7-day weeks plus a
final week of either 6 or 7 days. This makes scheduling events much
easier than with the Gregorian Calendar.

Further information about the Kazakh Nomad Calendar can be found in the
book by K. A. Kambar entitled "National Calendar of Kazakhstan" (at
present available only in the Kazakh language) and at the web page at
https://www.hermetic.ch/cal_stud/knc/Kazakh_Nomad_Calendar.htm
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Re: Kazakh Nomad Calendar -- a short description (by popular request)

Peter Meyer
In reply to this post by Peter Meyer
Dear Karl,

> Kaldarhan originally mentioned a Kazakh nomad calendar, which used a
> 273-day cycle like the Maya calendar used a 260-day cycle. This
> 273-day cycle is about 0.2 day short of 10 sidereal months.

Kaldarhan says there were several calendars in use by the ancient
nomads.  He is writing an article which attempts to explain them.  I
believe he hopes to finish it in a week or two.

> This calendar is different from this.

What I call "the Kazakh Nomad Calendar" is called in Kazakh "Togys
Esebi".  There is also an "Urker Esebi" which Kaldarhan relates to the
Maya Calendar by means of various arithmetical expressions.

  > It is like the Chinese calendar

Yes.  Both identify a series of months (synodic or sidereal) then
segment them into years.

BTW your arithmetical sidereal lunar calendar states rules for a
sequence of sidereal months of certain lengths, but I don't recall that
you say how to segment those months into years (of some sort).

> except that the sidereal month is used instead of synodic month and
> the 'new moon' is when the moon passes the pleiades.

The new month begins when the Moon reaches the Pleiades (from the point
of view of a nomad).

> The [KNC] years thus have one more month than in the Chinese calendar.

The years of the Chinese Calendar have 12 or 13 months.  The years of
the KNC have 13 or 14 months.  But I'm not aware that there is any
discernible relationship between the number-of-months-in-a-year in each
calendar.  I doubt that there is.

> Also the reckoning of leap years (years with an extra month) is
> simpler than in the Chinese calendar. The first month of the year is
> simply when the start of the month coincides with the first crescent.

True, but having identified the first month of a year, it is still not
obvious whether the year will contain 14 months rather than 13.  That
depends on the motion of the Moon during the following 13 months.

> The togys naming of the months relies on being able the predict the
> next new year a year in advance, because the leap month (29 togys) is
> the second month of the year.

That's true, and you might be wondering how the nomads could predict this.

A little-known fact about the Kazakh Nomad Calendar is that if a
Moon-Pleiades conjunction (per celestial longitude, not ecliptic
longitude), which marks the start of a month, occurs not earlier than 6
days prior to the vernal equinox and not later than 3 days after it,
then this month is the 13th and final month of the year, and the next
month is the first month of a year with 14 months.  Thus the 2nd month
of the next year is named "29 togys" rather than "27 togys", and the
month names count down to "3 togys" as usual.

Now you might also be wondering how the nomads knew that if the
Moon-Pleiades conjunction occurs within that period (namely, the VE
date minus 6 days to the VE date plus 3 days) then the next year will
have 14 months and not 13.  The answer seems to be that they arrived at
this knowledge by sustained observation of the Moon and the Pleiades
across many years, perhaps hundreds.  How they did this is a bit of a
mystery.  Perhaps Kaldarhan will explain it.  Or perhaps how they did
it is no longer known (since the calendrical tradition of the nomads is
now almost extinct) and all we have now is their conclusion, which
suffices to determine the structure of the calendar.

Perhaps our modern astronomers can confirm the truth of the nomads
discovery by analytical methods.

Regards,
Peter
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Re: Kazakh Nomad Calendar -- a short description (by popular request)

k.palmen@btinternet.com
Dear Peter, Kaldarhan and Calendar People

PETER SAID:
BTW your arithmetical sidereal lunar calendar states rules for a
sequence of sidereal months of certain lengths, but I don't recall that
you say how to segment those months into years (of some sort).

KARL REPLIES: It is a pure lunar calendar. One could define a year to begin with a month that is contained within a yerm calendar month or similar.

Karl

17(11(07

----Original message----
From : [hidden email]
Date : 13/11/2018 - 13:14 (GMT)
To : [hidden email]
Subject : Re: Kazakh Nomad Calendar -- a short description (by popular request)

Dear Karl,

> Kaldarhan originally mentioned a Kazakh nomad calendar, which used a
> 273-day cycle like the Maya calendar used a 260-day cycle. This
> 273-day cycle is about 0.2 day short of 10 sidereal months.

Kaldarhan says there were several calendars in use by the ancient
nomads.  He is writing an article which attempts to explain them.  I
believe he hopes to finish it in a week or two.

> This calendar is different from this.

What I call "the Kazakh Nomad Calendar" is called in Kazakh "Togys
Esebi".  There is also an "Urker Esebi" which Kaldarhan relates to the
Maya Calendar by means of various arithmetical expressions.

  > It is like the Chinese calendar

Yes.  Both identify a series of months (synodic or sidereal) then
segment them into years.

BTW your arithmetical sidereal lunar calendar states rules for a
sequence of sidereal months of certain lengths, but I don't recall that
you say how to segment those months into years (of some sort).

> except that the sidereal month is used instead of synodic month and
> the 'new moon' is when the moon passes the pleiades.

The new month begins when the Moon reaches the Pleiades (from the point
of view of a nomad).

> The [KNC] years thus have one more month than in the Chinese calendar.

The years of the Chinese Calendar have 12 or 13 months.  The years of
the KNC have 13 or 14 months.  But I'm not aware that there is any
discernible relationship between the number-of-months-in-a-year in each
calendar.  I doubt that there is.

> Also the reckoning of leap years (years with an extra month) is
> simpler than in the Chinese calendar. The first month of the year is
> simply when the start of the month coincides with the first crescent.

True, but having identified the first month of a year, it is still not
obvious whether the year will contain 14 months rather than 13.  That
depends on the motion of the Moon during the following 13 months.

> The togys naming of the months relies on being able the predict the
> next new year a year in advance, because the leap month (29 togys) is
> the second month of the year.

That's true, and you might be wondering how the nomads could predict this.

A little-known fact about the Kazakh Nomad Calendar is that if a
Moon-Pleiades conjunction (per celestial longitude, not ecliptic
longitude), which marks the start of a month, occurs not earlier than 6
days prior to the vernal equinox and not later than 3 days after it,
then this month is the 13th and final month of the year, and the next
month is the first month of a year with 14 months.  Thus the 2nd month
of the next year is named "29 togys" rather than "27 togys", and the
month names count down to "3 togys" as usual.

Now you might also be wondering how the nomads knew that if the
Moon-Pleiades conjunction occurs within that period (namely, the VE
date minus 6 days to the VE date plus 3 days) then the next year will
have 14 months and not 13.  The answer seems to be that they arrived at
this knowledge by sustained observation of the Moon and the Pleiades
across many years, perhaps hundreds.  How they did this is a bit of a
mystery.  Perhaps Kaldarhan will explain it.  Or perhaps how they did
it is no longer known (since the calendrical tradition of the nomads is
now almost extinct) and all we have now is their conclusion, which
suffices to determine the structure of the calendar.

Perhaps our modern astronomers can confirm the truth of the nomads
discovery by analytical methods.

Regards,
Peter