Qobylandy batyr is the Defender of the Qazaq people
Folklore, as an oral folk art, is deeply rooted in the history of the Qazaq people. Folklore existed even before the formation of an intact Qazaq nation. This is evidenced by the few monuments of the Turkic writing of the ancient tribes, the predecessors of the Qazaqs, that have come to us. (For example: A Work of Mahmud al-Kashgari ‘Diwan Lugat at-Turk’ (The Compendium of the Turkic Dialects)).
The main genre of Qazaq folklore is the epos. It evolved over the centuries and its creator was the people. According to the genre, the epic is conventionally divided into two types: heroic and social. The struggle of the people for their independence with a certain enemy is shown in the heroic epic.
A significant place in the history of the Qazaq people is devoted to Qazaqs’ struggle against the Kalmyk-Dzungarian conquerors between the period of the XV and XVIII centuries. This struggle is reflected in epic poems. The epic ‘The Qobylandy batyr’ is considered to be one of the most famous Qazaq epic poems.
Epic works being handed down from generation to generation by different performers - ‘zhyrshy’ (a Qazaq folk singer-narrator), were sometimes subjected to changes in accordance with demands and interests of the society.
Therefore, today there are 29 versions of the epic ‘The Qobylandy Batyr’. Researchers determine that ‘The Qobylandy Batyr’ epos is spread in two versions - ancient, developed in the distant past, and late, substantially updated with many facts, interpretation of images in the epos is associated approximately with the XV century. It was an era of consolidation of the forces of fragmented clans, tribes and the emergence of the Qazaq Khanate. But in all versions of this epic, Qobylandy-Batyr is an ideal of the hero, a defender of his Homeland.
The most extensive version of the epic is the Marabai-zhyrau’s version. The Qazaq educator Mr.Ibray Altynsarin recorded it for the first time in writing from the words of Marabai-zhyrau. This piece of art is based on real historical events. It contains the names of real people and the names of localities. It should also be noted that for a long time Qobylandy Batyr was considered a fictional character.
Qobylandy batyr (he is also called ‘qaraqypchak Qobylandy’) is the national hero, commander. Originally from the Qipchaq tribe and its branch under the title ‘qaraqypchak’, he lived in the XV century during the collapse of the Golden Horde.
The story begins as follows.
A rich family lived in the country of the Qipchaqs, one of the largest Qazaq clans. The head of the family’s name was Toktarbai. His wife’s name was Analyk. They had no children. At one of the outrageous pageantries childless Toktarbai and Analyk felt offended by the words of the entertainer, who said that there was no place for those who did not have a son or a daughter.
Pleading to the spirits of ancestors, to God to send them children, and especially the son, traveling, pilgrimage to holy places bore fruit. Elderly parents (according to various sources, Toktarbay was already approximately 60-80 years old, Analyk - 40-60 years old) were rewarded with the birth of their son and daughter, which they dreamed of. The son was named Qobylandy, and the daughter - Qarlygash.
The future hero grew up so quickly that unknowing people took a 10-year-old boy for a tall young man. The epic says that at the age of five Qobylandy began to think deeply, when he was a 6-year-old boy he became mature in his mind. At the age of 12 he saddled his horse and put his armor on.
A well-known writer Ilyas Esenberlin in his work ‘The Charmed Sword’ (Part II, the trilogy ‘The Nomads’) describes the image of Qobylandy batyr as follows:
‘The very name of Qobylandy batyr struck fear into the heart of people. He was a very tall man with a huge head, hands that looked like a sledgehammer. His bones were bigger than camel’s bones and his fingers were harder than a wild sheep’s horns’.
One day, Qobylandy batyr heard that one of the rulers of nearby states was looking for a worthy husband for his daughter. Overcoming various obstacles, participating and winning in pre-wedding competitions, Qobylandy batyr returned home with his beautiful bride Qortqy.
Qortqy sulu (‘sulu’ means ‘beautiful’ in Qazaq language) appears in the epos as a wise adviser of her husband. She had a gift of prophecy and knew in advance about many misfortunes in the future, but she understood that she could not change it, so she did what she could: she warned and helped Qobylandy batyr. For example, Qortqy sulu saw that one mare in a fortuitously encountered herd was wearing a foal, which was destined with proper care to become a worthy horse for Qobylandy batyr.
Qortqy sulu’s prophecy was fulfilled. The foal, named Taiburyl, grew into a real racer. Khan's daughter did not suggest that it was shameful for her personally to take care of the foal: to feed it, to water and to take for a walk.
The horse ‘overcomes a distance of six days in three hours’, ‘it flies, flapping its wings’ – says the legend.
Among the other advantages of Qortqy sulu were kindness and patience, which was enough to understand, sympathize and accept her rival, Qobylandy batyr’s second wife - Qarlyga.
They met for the first time, when Qobylandy batyr was captured by her father, who was the Khan of a neighboring state. Qarlyga epitomized selfless love, which would stop at nothing for the sake of a beloved.
The daughter of the enemy Qarlyga helped Qobylandy batyr to escape from captivity, thereby betraying her own family. To stay close to him, the girl became a warrior and in a battle killed the most dear people.
A lot of space in the epic is given to a description of the struggle of Qobylandy batyr and his team with foreign invaders - Kalmyks. Kalmyk warriors are depicted as strong and powerful force, that attacks the territories, where inhabited Qazaq people. They used to ruin their homes, kill Qazaq people or capture. But they always give in to Qobylandy batyr and his team.
One of the Kalmyk warriors says: ‘If Qobylandy batyr arrives in my country, I will have a rough time. He is a falcon, we are crows. Crows are falcon’s prey’.
Qobylandy batyr did not divide his compatriots by clan, but loved and defended all of them, without asking what kind of ‘zhuz’ he came from. ‘Zhuz’ is a historically established union of Qazaqs.
Qobylandy batyr lived during the time of Khan Abylkhair (XV century), grandson of Jochi Khan (who was in his turn the eldest son of Genghis Khan). Abylkhairkhan was Qobylandy batyr’s commander.
It should be noted that Qobylandy batyr was the cause of dividing the Qazaq Khanate into two parts. It happened in the following way. A Judge Dayirkozha (from the Qazaq clan ‘Argyn’, nicknamed ‘Akzhol’ for his fairness) and Qaraqipchaq Qobylandy, being close to Khan Abylkhair, competed with each other for influence ...
Qobylandy batyr in the long run killed Dayirkozha. Zhanibek Sultan, a supporter of Dayirkozha, having learned about it, asked Abylkhairkhan to kill Qobylandy batyr in order to avenge the death of Dayirkozha.
However, Khan Abylkhair could not fulfill the request of Zhanibek Sultan, fearing to raise discontent from the Qipchaqs side.
He offered to pay the ransom as for three people. Insulted by this decision of Abilkhairkhan, Zhanibek Sultan, along with Kerey Sultan, separated, migrated to Mogolistan and created a separate Qazaq Khanate.
Qobylandy batyr took part in the political life of the Nogai Horde. He participated in the campaign on the city of Qazan, fought with the descendant of Edige batyr - Alshagir.
The son of Alshagir, Orak batyr killed Qobylandy batyr. His grave is located on the territory of the modern Aktobe Region.
There are a lot of colorful descriptions of feasts, wealth, different kind of competitions of young people and battles in the epic. For our readers the epic might be interesting and catching by its descriptions of customs and traditions of Qazaq people, like ‘suyunshi’, opulent feasts, lasting several days in a row and others.
‘Qobylandy batyr’ in terms of the depth of content and richness of pictorial means is one of the best folk creations of Qazaq literature. Epos translated into Russian, Polish, Czech and other languages.
Sherkhan Murtaza and his great works
Sherkhan Murtaza is an outstanding and gifted person. He is a person of a thorny destiny. ‘I have flown through my life on two wings’, - Sherkhan Murtaza once said in an interview. ‘These wings are journalism and writing. Everything that I experienced, I reflected in my works. And I started my work experience from doing translations from Russian into Qazaq language. I am very proud that I have translated into Qazaq language all works of a well-known Kyrgyz writer Chingiz Aitmatov. I wrote my novels at night, while I waited from the Printing House for a signal number of the newspaper, which was often brought only in the morning.
One of the most famous works of the outstanding Qazaq writer Sherkhan Murtaza is a novel ‘The Moon and Aisha.’
The main character of the novel ‘The Moon and Aisha’ is Sherkhan Murtaza’s mother, whose name is Aisha. He grew up without a father, who was exiled to Siberia as ‘an Enemy of the People’. Sherkhan Murtaza saw what a great weight had been placed on his mother’s shoulders, who had to take care of three small children. Due to the difficult financial situation in the family, he had to live and study at a boarding school.
Sherkhan Murtaza in the novel ‘The Moon and Aisha’ equates his mother with the Moon. In fact, if the most powerful in the sky is the Moon in the worldview of a small child, then the center of the Universe on the Earth for him is the Mother, that is, Aisha. That is why he called the novel ‘The Moon and Aisha’.
In the image of Aisha, as in a mirror, the images of thousands of Qazaq women who for centuries were the keepers of the family hearth and national traditions, are reflected.
Dedication of Aisha to her three children who remained alone with the three orphans during the hungry, cold years of the Second World War, her struggle with local repressors, resisting their total abuse of power, the strength of her spirit make the readers look at her with admiration.
Despite all the troubles and tribulations of life, Aisha brings up her children honest, kind and sympathetic, in the spirit of love and patriotism to their homeland.
Another significant work of Sherkhan Murtaza is an epic novel ‘The Red Arrow’, dedicated to the life and work of Turar Ryskulov, the first Qazaq statesman, who became a member of the Soviet Russian government (existed between 1917-1946).
The author explains the reason of writing such a piece of work as follows: ‘Turar Ryskulov is my countryman, our destinies have something in common: we both grew up without fathers.
His father Ryskul killed the volost ruler Saimasai because of his cruelty and as a result he was sentenced to ten years for exile to Sakhalin (Siberia). While the pretrial investigation was under way, the 10-year-old Turar had to be with his father in the Verny prison, otherwise the relatives of the killed volost ruler could have killed him. Bronnikov, convicted for political reasons, was sitting in the same prison cell with them, who taught Turar Russian literacy.
Later, Turar Ryskulov was shot for bourgeois nationalism and pan-Turkism. (Pan-Turkism is a movement which emerged during the 1880s among Turkic intellectuals from Central Asian countries and Turkey with an aim to unite all Turkic peoples).
Sherkhan Murtaza, who wrote a novel about him, was labelled a neopan-Turkist. The text already prepared for publication in the journal ‘Zhuldyz’ was arrested and destroyed. The novel was released only after a positive review by the Party Institute of Qazaqstan.
About the Author
Sherkhan Murtaza is a People's Writer of Qazaqstan, Honored Worker of Culture of the Qazaq SSR. He was born on September 28, 1932 in the village of Talapty in the Zhambyl Region. He graduated from the Moscow State University in 1955.
He worked in the Qazaq State Publishing House of Fiction, then he was a journalist, literary worker and editor of the newspapers ‘Leninshil Zhas’ and ‘Socialist Qazaqstan’.
He was the Chief Editor of the three most famous Qazaqstani publications: ‘Zhalyn’, ‘Zhuldyz’, and ‘Qazaq Adebieti’. He also served as Chairman of the State Television and Radio Broadcasting Committee of Qazaqstan.
Since 1995, Sherkhan Murtaza engaged in creative activity. He began to make his first translations from Russian into Qazaq language in his student years.
The first collection of essays ‘Kurylysshy Daku’ was published in 1958. Sherkhan Murtaza is the author of the novels ‘Kara Marzhan’(‘A Black Pearl’) and ‘Kyzyl Zhebe’ (‘The Red Arrow’), the plays ‘Stalinge Khat’ (‘A Letter to Stalin’) and ‘Beseudіn Khaty’ (‘The Letter of Five people’).
His works have been translated into many languages of the world.
His books are about a rough life of a young widow, about hundreds of women's lives, about the taste of boarding bread, which one of the pupils hid under a pillow during the day and ate at night, sneaking. All these stories are taken from his life. After all, he belongs to the generation of people whose share has become an orphanage, famine, collectivization, war, post-war devastation and the gradual restoration of the people after hardship and deprivation.
Despite all the difficulties of life, Sherkhan Murtaza remained an optimist, a kind, sympathetic, sensitive, peace-loving, honest and hardworking person. He passed away on October 9 of this year.
The image of the mother in the works of the famous Qazaq writer Gabit Musrepov
A significant place in a creation work of Gabit Musrepov is given to stories about a Mother, written by him in different years. He created strong, romantic images, sang a great power of a Mother’s love.
In 1933, the young writer translated into Qazaq language the stories of Russian writer Maxim Gorky ‘The Birth of a Man’ and ‘Tales of Italy’. Preserving the romanticism of style, as a translator Gabit Musrepov emphasized some psychological points. He also changed some of the titles of the works of Maxim Gorky. Instead of ‘The Birth of a Man’, the reader received ‘The Mother of Mothers’. The sacred feeling of motherhood took a central place in translation, whereas in the original the attention was focused on the birth of a person. Gabit Musrepov liked the romantic pathos of the young Maxim Gorky. His words about the all-conquering Mother’s love echoes the popular, well-known to Gabit Musrepov an idea of the greatness of the Mother.
Proud and courageous women-heroines of the works of Gabit Musrepov are capable of great deeds. People bow their heads before them. A Mother in his works is an expression of a clear and alive conscience, a willingness to endure any trials in the name of the life of her children.
In the story ‘The Mother’s Wrath’ a mother named Kapia stood up for her son, who was sent to work in the rear. She went through all possible torment and humiliation to save her only son. At last in her burning anger she kills the district governor.
‘Who am I? A Slave ... Who are they? They are noble people ... They do what they want. Should I during all my life to endure the mockery? Am I a human-being or a dog? And suddenly she saw: a young man brought a big plate with a Qazaq traditional dish ‘besbarmak’ into a ‘yurt’ (a traditional Qazaq house). Above of the besbarmak lay a lamb head and on the edge of the plate was a sharp knife ... And I don’t know how it happened. I made a clutch at a knife, ran into the yurt. I came up directly to the district governor, who was lying on the pillows. I stabbed him with a knife firstly in the throat and then under the heart. My mental health broke down. I was completely furious’ – the woman was thinking.
And if love of the Mother knows no barriers, then love for the Mother is immeasurable. Even the heavy villain feels qualm of conscience before the Mother.
The cycle of stories of Gabit Musrepov about the Mother, in essence are about humaneness. The writer exalts a person, recalling about his nobility and greatness.
Nagima (the story ‘The courage of the Mother’) is a simple woman from a poor village, she is ready at the cost of her own life to defend a soldier of the Red Army. She sends her son Zhappar to help him, saying: ‘Zhappar, my son. You see, his strength has gone. Take a horse, go to him! Hide him in Uyshek-Zhale (It is a heavily wooded area).’
Antonov, the Head of the White Guards cruelly beates Nagima with a whip for this deed. It is terrible and embarrassing for neighbors to see how an innocent woman is beaten before their eyes.
‘If only it was possible to kill with eyes, Antonov would have been lying in the dust at her feet long ago’ – writes the author. Nagima’s courage faces the ordeal. Antonov beat her with a whip, a saber and a Mauser.
Antonov got tired of beating Nagima with a whip. The woman’s speech to the White Guards is both an accusation and a call to appeal to their own conscience. Nagima says to the White Guards, that they are ‘wolves’. And her voice is heard: none of Antonov’s soldiers dare to raise a hand to replace Antonov in this heinous crime, because it means to raise a hand against a Woman, against a Mother.
Moreover, someone from the detachment could not stand it and cut off Antonov’s head. Confused White Guards still do not know what they will do next, although one thing is clear to them: a person is created to live in peace and harmony.
Inimitable images of Mothers are fanned by poetry. The string of strong personalities, whose life is full of losses and sufferings in the works of Gabit Musrepov, make a strong impression.
In the story ‘The Mother’, a 30-year-old woman, full of courage and determination, in despair rushes after the forty young fellows, who took her daughter by force and hijacked herds of horses.
She does not yield men: she rides a horse perfectly, masterfully controls herds. She is brave and temerarious.
This woman tells the young fellows (in Qazaq language ‘jigits’) a non-fictional story - a story about her life. After it the attackers ‘were ashamed’. They cannot even look at woman’s eyes.
She managed to look deep into heart of every young fellow. She masterfully touches their hearts. She tries to find answers to such questions as: what rules the world?, why is a man miserable?, what is the essence of people’s being on the Earth?, what is happiness?.
In a short dialogue with one of these fellows - the batyr Zhanai, the wise woman opens his eyes on his life: ‘You are a free batyr (‘batyr’ is an honorific term, meaning hero in the Qazaq language) until you reach your village. And there you will lose your freedom and turn into an ordinary club of your bai (‘bai’ means not only a reach person, but also an owner) or biy (‘biy’ means a representative of a Ruling Power, who determines disputes). You are pushed around naming you as a batyr. You are not much more free, than me!’. His eyes opened: a woman is right. And brave batyr gives the woman and her daughter freedom. ‘What a wise woman!’ - says each other Zhanai and a blind Aytiles with sincere admiration.
About the Author
Gabit Musrepov is a writer, literary critic, novelist and playwright, public figure.
He was born on March 9 (March 22), 1902, in the village, named at present time Zhanazhol, North Qazaqstan Region.
In 1923-1926 he studied at the workers' faculty in Orenburg, then at the Omsk Agricultural Institute.
Gabit Musrepov started his literary activity in 1925. The first story under a title ‘In the Abyss’, written by him, was published in 1928. The novel was about the events, took place during the Civil War of 1918-1920.
He was a Chairman of the Writers' Union of Qazaqstan.
He was given a title of the People's Writer of Qazaqstan in 1984.
He was granted a title of an Academician of the Academy of Sciences of the Qazaq SSR in 1985.
He passed away on December 31, 1985 at the age of 83.
Image of the mother in ‘A Legend about a Mankurt’
There were perpetual wars between the nomadic peoples who inhabited the Qazaq Great Steppe many centuries ago. The conquerors turned the defeated into slaves.
Juan-juans (another name is ‘Ruanruan’ or ‘the Rouran Khaganate’), who once captured most of the today’s Qazaqstan territory, were particularly cruel. They turned the captives into mankurts - people who lost their memory.
To achieve this goal they put on the captive's head a raw camel skin and left him or her without water and bread for several days in an open area.
The sun heated the raw skin, it began to tighten, and the person died from pain or went out of his or her mind, or at last lost his or her memory. Only on the fifth day the Juan-juans came to check if the prisoners survived. In practice 1-2 people out of five might survive. The remained after this terrible procedure alive people were considered to be the slaves – ‘mankurts’. Their price on local slave market of that time was very high. They cost a lot of money because they were people without memory. They used absolutely to forget about everything: their father or mother or somebody else, the only thing they knew was their owner.
Such a slave did not dream of freedom, he could do the hardest and dirtiest work and did not ask for anything. And none of his relatives and friends tried to make mankurt free, because he was a man without memory.
And the only mother, named Naiman-Ana, could not accept that fact. Her son, who participated in the battle with the Juan-juans, was captured. Naiman-Ana wanted to find her son. She dreamed of only one thing: let him be alive, let him be a mankurt who lost his memory, but only alive! She took a white handkerchief and went looking for him. Naiman-Ana walked for a long time on the Great Steppe and finally met a young man and recognized her son in him.
‘My dear son! I am looking for you!’ – she shouted – ‘I am your mother’. Suddenly she understood everything and cried. Her son did not even ask who she was and why she was crying. He had a blank incurious stare and he looked very calm. ‘You do not recognize me?’ – asked Naiman-Ana finally. ‘No’ – he answered. – ‘What is your name?’ – she asked. ‘Mankurt’ – he said.
‘It is your name now. What was your name before? Tell me, please, try to remember!’ – Naiman-Ana asked him. Mankurt kept a silence. ‘What is your father’s name? Who are you? Where were you born? Do you know it?’ – she continued questioning. But he did not remember anything and did not know. ‘What have they done to you?!’ - Naiman-Ana said quietly. ‘Do you hear me? Your name is Zholaman. Your father’s name was Donenbay. Do you remember your father? He taught you archery when you were a child. And I am your mother. Do you hear?’
But he was indifferent to what was said by his mother to him. ‘Let me see what they did to your head’, - Naiman-Ana said. ‘No’, - answered the Mankurt and did not want to talk to his mother anymore. Naiman-Ana decided to take her son home. ‘It would be better for him to live at home than in the steppe being a slave for the Juan-juans. Naiman-Ana asked her son to return home stubbornly, but he did not understand how to leave the place without permission of the landlord.
‘What did they do to you?’ – exclaimed the mother being heartbroken. ‘You can take away the land, you can take away the wealth, you can take away even life, but who invented to deprive a person of his memory?!’
Naiman-Ana repeated over and over: ‘Your father is Donenbay! Your name is not Mankurt! Your name is Zholaman! When you were born, we had a great feast-day in our family!’. Suddenly Naiman-Ana saw a man riding on a camel. He was coming closer to them. ‘Who is this?’ – asked the old woman. ‘He is my owner.’ – her son answered. She had to leave. ‘Do not tell him anything, I will come soon.’ – said Naiman-Ana. Her son did not answer. It was not important for him. He was indifferent to her entreaties.
However the Juan-juan already saw a woman. ‘Who was that?’ – he asked the Mankurt. ‘She says that she is my mother’ - he answered. The Juan-juan shouted: ‘She is not your mother! You do not have a mother! Do you know what she wants? She wants to take your head!’. The Mankurt was scared. His face turned gray. – ‘Do not be afraid!’ – said the owner - ‘Do you know how to bow hunt? Here you are, take it?’. And he gave the Mankurt a bow and arrow.
When the Juan-juan left, Naiman-Ana сame up to her son. She did not notice that her son, the Mankurt was already preparing to shoot. The sun prevented him to shoot at her mother and he waited for the right moment. ‘Jolaman, my son!’ - called an old woman. But it was too late: an arrow shot her right in the heart. It was the death blow. Naiman-Ana started to fall, slowly. But earlier a white handkerchief fell from her head, turned into a bird and flew with a cry: ‘Remember who you are! What is your name! Your father is Donenbay! Donenbay!’
They say that even now a person walking along the Qazaq steppe can hear this bird shouting: ‘Remember, who are you? What is your name? Your father is Donenbay!’. And Naiman-Ana’s last resting-place exists by now. It is called Ana-Beyit (Mother's rest-place).
The word ‘mother’ is a special word. It is born with us, accompanies us during our life and with this word we leave this world. We can talk about our mothers endlessly. They are the most kind, proud and courageous people in the world for us.
How many lives were saved by their hands, how many misfortunes drove out their kind words, how many brave deeds were committed by them!
It is difficult to find words that could tell about the endless love of our mothers. People make poems, songs, beautiful legends and serious books about mothers.
This story is based on a real life events and a Qazaq folk tale, included by an outstanding Kyrgyz writer Chingiz Aitmatov to his well-known novel ‘The Day lasts More Than a Hundred Years’ and it cannot fail to touch the hearts of readers. It undoubtedly serves as a great example of endless mother’s love.