Living a medieval fantasy in Kyrgyz fencing and role-playing club

By Aliya Baitikova

Nikolay Portryasov, a junior at Kyrgyz National University in Bishkek, happened across a meeting of the historical fencing and role-playing club a few years ago. At first, he thought it was all foolish, but then he began to like what he saw.

The participants thoroughly prepare for and arrange to participate in medieval tournaments and festivals, performing in historical plays, contests or fights, wearing armor and combating with swords and other weapons. About 20 people participate in the events, but membership has been as high as 70 people.

According to Portryasov, the members of the group don’t have sponsors or any special purpose in what they do. This hobby is only for their own pleasure.

About one-third of the participants are women. They quickly grew tired of sewing costumes and watching the action, and now participate in their own duels and other activities, such as staged plays. Performers decide their own roles and actions. For example, it may not be mandatory to kill a dragon in order to save the innocent folk. The performer might try to persuade the dragon to leave the village on its own volition. Or the dragon might prove to be quite kind and likable.

The historical fencing and role-playing club was formed about 1998. The idea for creating the club came from students at Bishkek School 61. Later, the group began role-playing and theatrical performances.

The so-called “Roleviki” or members of the club are aged from 13 to 50 years. They occasionally participate in trade fairs where they prepare food and sell handicrafts, earthenware and ironware. All costumes and armor used by club members are made by themselves, all made in medieval style.


One response to “Living a medieval fantasy in Kyrgyz fencing and role-playing club

  1. I love the picture of the women holding the jar. It is also very interesting to see that they do not always fight, but sometimes use other methods to resolve problems. I think we should incorporate that freedom into more of our stories and folklore.

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