First Posted: Sept 11, 2018
Jan 20, 2020

The Golden Warrior/Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Washington, DC

The Golden Warrior
Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Washington, DC

"On the front lawn of the Embassy of the republic of Kazakhstan in Washington D.C. stands the national symbol: The Golden Warrior. The Washington D.C. statue, commemorated in 2006, is a replica of The Golden Warrior featured in the Independence Monument in the Republic square, located in downtown Almaty, pictured below. The Golden Warrior is flanked on top of a pillar and at its base, is a book that represents the Constitution of Kazakhstan. The handprint of a wise man is engraved in the book and all who visit the site are encouraged to place their hand in the imprint and make a wish. Bronze panels of scenes from Kazakhstan's history enclose the monument along with figurines in traditional Kazakh attire.

Unlike the Golden Warrior statue at Independence Monument in Almaty, the one out front the embassy is gold colored instead of only bits and pieces of the Almaty monument. There is also some mysticism behind the monument as well. While it is a popular tourist attraction in Almaty and can be seen far and wide, the many people believe it has what made the country what it is today and so successful. Many people, more importantly newlyweds, will come to the monument to touch it and leave flowers. The legend goes that the power of happiness from Golden Warrior that has helped make Kazakhstan prosperous will channel through you to enrich your life of happiness and prosperity. The rule is you can only touch it once.

Likewise, if you touch the monument in front of the Embassy and make a wish, it may also come true. Never mind the gates in front of the Embassy, it is always open for guests and you would be treated with a traditional Kazakh hospitality.

If you look around Kazakhstan, the barys, like on the statue, is seen as symbol used on beer labels and is even the mascot of the Astana hockey team. Barys are important to Kazakhstan because they are seen as symbol of rapid growth, just like Asian tigers connote the dynamic growth of East Asian economies. This role of Barys is also mentioned in the previous long term Kazakhstan 2030 Strategy.

The Golden Warrior on 5,000 tenge note/like a $20.00 bill
The statue itself is on the 5,000 tenge note as well, which is like a $20 bill.

So what is so significant about this archaeological discovery? Why is The Golden Warrior the symbol of the Republic of Kazakhstan? First, the Golden Warrior represents the history of the tribal peoples who inhabited the Kipchak steppe and practiced a form of pastoral-nomadic food producing economy prior to Russian Imperial rule and the October 1917 revolution. As nomadic peoples, they left few written records. Historians rely on archaeological evidence, such as kurgans, and secondary sources written by their contemporaries, such as Herodotus' The Histories, to study the civilizations of antiquity. Thus, the discovery of The Golden Warrior provides additional evidence for the study of pre-modern tribal peoples.

For Kazakhstan's leaders, the Golden Warrior is a rich example of a historical artifact pre-dating Russian Imperial rule and provides insights into the history of Kazakhstan. Even though the Scythians pre-dated the Turkic peoples, having inhabited the territory of modern-day Kazakhstan, the Scythians are an important component of Kazakhstani history. Moreover, the Golden Warrior's uniform features the Issyk 'animal style' of art. The 'animal style,' featured in artifacts dating to the 1st century BCE, portrays wild animals, such as the snow leopard, in canonic poses. The Issyk korgan that contained the Golden Warrior also contained 165 “animal style” objects, as featured in the image below. Additionally, the Golden Warrior provides evidence in support of Herodotus' writings. For example, the Golden Warrior's headdress, a towering 70 cm, is believed to represent the antlers of a reindeer. In The Histories, Herodotus describes the Scythian (Saka) tribes as 'those who wear pointy hats.'

The legacy of animal style objects is evident in contemporary Kazakh art. The curvilinear ornament pattern evident in Kazakh textiles, first appeared in the Upper Paleolithic era. It is believed that the dynamic, circular pattern of the Kazakh ornament symbolizes features in nature such as the sun, mountains and the curved horns of animals.

The Golden Warrior is thus a profound historical and cultural artifact for the people of Kazakhstan. If you are interested in seeing the Golden Warrior in person, the original can be found in the Central State Museum in Almaty. The Independence Monument is a truly amazing and a reflection of not only the independence of Kazakhstan, but it's past, present, and future. If you plan on traveling to Kazakhstan in 2013, this is definitely a site worth seeing. And if you're in Washington, DC, the Embassy invites all visitors to come see the statue, take pictures, and touch it so that you can be as happy and prosperous like Kazakhstan has been. The Embassy of Kazakhstan is located at 1401 16th Street NW in Washington, DC...."

For More Information:

The Sherman House/Historic DC Building/Home to the Kazakhstan Embassy and the Golden Warrior