1. Kökö Tengir (Blue Sky Tengri) is the old Turkic name for God or Creator.
2. Ordo: a military game played with knucklebones.
1. Kyrgyz warriors named their coat of armor. Chubak named his armor "Akh albars" (hungry demon).
1. Reference to Lenin's Mausoleum in Red Square, Moscow.
2. The Moscow Metro had opened in 1935.
3. That is, bright, multicolored.
2. A type of feathered headwear symbolizing nobility.
3. A respectful form of address to a senior man.
4. A fragment from a poem dedicated to the cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.
5. Another respectful form of address to a senior man.
1. Among the Kyrgyz and Kazakhs, sisters-in-law (jenges) are responsible for finding a match for their husband's younger sisters (kayyn singdis). Kayin singdis share their personal secrets with their sisters-in-law, who in turn give them advice about dating and being a good bride, wife, and daughter-in-law.
2. This statement has become a proverbial saying.
3. This statement has become a proverbial saying.
4. This statement has become a proverbial saying.
1. Maaniker is the name of a racing horse in the Manas epic.
2. The name of a mountain glacier on the border between China and Kyrgyzstan, which the Kyrgyz government sold to China as a source of water.
3. Mankurt: a reference to mindless slaves, made famous in Chingis Aitmatov's novel, A Day Lasts Longer than a Century.
4. Here Jengishbek refers to the statement of a well-known senior Kyrgyz doctor, who said that Maksim, president Bakiev's son, had beautiful eyes. The doctor's view was the opposite of that espoused by many Kyrgyz, who thought that he had a cold look and scary eyes.
5. The combination of "khan" and "constitution," referring to Bakiev and his family as having total control over the country and its people.
6. The president of Belarus, who has alienated almost all former allies and who offered asylum to the deposed Kyrgyz president Bakiev.
1. Qaryndas/qaryndash is a Kazakh and Kyrgyz kinship term used for a younger sister of a man. The term for a younger sister of an older sister is singli/singdi.
2. Kut: a Turkic word that has multiple meanings and is understood and used differently in various contexts. Here it means “fortune,” “luck,” “blessing,” “warmth.”
3. Arstanbek, (Bishkek: Ilim, 1994), 53.
1. Wooden circlet at the top of the yurt.
2. Respectful form of address to an elder brother or senior man.
3. Amangeldi Imanov (1873
4. Älibi Jangeldin (1884
5. Ybyrai Altynsarin (1841
6. The aqyn refers to the fact that his opponent was a veteran of World War II.
7. Aqan seri Qoramsauly (1843
8. Qulager, Aqan seri’s favorite horse, was known for his unrivalled qualities as a racer. He was killed during a horserace at the order of a wealthy man whose own horse was likely to lose. Aqan seri commemorated Qulager in a song that is prominent in the repertory of singers from the Sary-Arqa tradition.
9. Ybyrai Sandybaiuly (1860
10. The main prize of the aitys.
1. The aqyn refers to Alatau because the aitys took place in Almaty.
2. Nar, literally dromedary.
3. Enshi, literally share of inheritance given to elder sons in a family.
4. Literally “Your five weapons seem to be ready [for action]” (idiomatic expression).
1. From the Arabic Qur’anic phrase Bismi Allah (In the name of God).
2. Qarakesek (literally black piece) is the name of a clan of the Arghyn tribe within the Orta Jüz (Middle Horde). The aqyn plays with the word “Qarakesek” (“I am a dough-stuffed piece of meat”) to imply that he is a true descendant of the Qarakesek clan.
3. Among nomads, an animal stomach was used as a container for preserving butter. In such a container butter would stay fresh. The aqyn here implies that Shieli’s traditions and customs have been preserved unspoiled.
4. Äbdilda Täjibaev (1909
5. Qalyng mal, literally dowry, brideswealth.
6. Literally ahead of a cloud of dust raised by racing horses.
7. Respectful form of address to a senior woman.
8. The aqyn plays on the name of the region, Shieli (from shie, literally cherry).
9. Kelinshek is an address to a young married woman.
10. The aqyn implies that, even though he is flirting with his opponent, he does not want to be disrespectful toward her, a married woman.
11. Qulyn, literally colt, a form of address to small children.
12. Song is compared to fermented mare’s milk (qymyz) poured from a leather flask (saba), traditionally used for making and preserving qymyz.
13. Asan qaighy is a Kazakh poet, philosopher, and legendary hero thought to have lived in the 14th
14. Alash is here used with reference to an early confederation of Kazakh tribes.
15. Nartai Bekejanov (1890
16. Imanjüsip Qutpanuly (1863
17. Janazar batyr was a ?ompanion-in-arms and military commander of Abylai Khan (18th c.).
18. Mustafa Shoqai (1890
19. Shahmardan Esenov (1927
20. Ybyrai Jaqaev and Jadyra Taspambetova, Worker Heroes of Kazakhstan.
21. Contemporary writer and political leader Altynshash Jaghanova.
22. Writer Quandyq Tümenbai and mathematician Asqar Jumadildaev.
23. Bakhtiyar Tailaqbaev, a singer, Honored Artist of Kazakhstan, and cultural administrator in the Qyzylorda region.
24. Ruslan Bölebai, a young television journalist who died in 2009.
25. White Horde (Aq Orda) was a Turkic state on the territory of present-day Kazakhstan in the mid-13th
26. Aqyns who competed with Ainur Tursunbaeva.
1. Maira and Serik were a Kyrgyz and Kazakh pair of female and male aqyns who had competed before.
2. Jenge/jengge: a respected term of address used among the Kyrgyz, Kazakhs, and Uzbeks by a younger brother toward the wife of an older brother. Men call the wife of their older brothers and kinsmen jenge. Kyrgyz have a saying, “One of the thighs of the sister-in-law belongs to her husband’s younger brother” (Jengenin bir sany kaynisiniki). This saying is related to an old practice among the nomadic Kyrgyz and Kazakhs wherein if a woman’s husband died, the woman married her husband’s younger brother to keep the young children in her husband’s family. Mature younger brothers (kayni/qaiyn) often tease their jenges/jengges, who in turn teach them about courtship and marriage. In this aitysh, the young Aaly aqyn is trying to tease his older female opponent by establishing the traditional jenge-kayni relationship.
3. The aqyn is saying that the Kyrgyz people lived in harmony with nature.
4. A reference to the Kyrgyz writer Chingiz Aitmatov, who died in 2008.
5. Issyk Kul: the name of a large mountain lake in northern Kyrgyzstan that is a popular tourist attraction.
6. Rahmatulla: a middle-aged Kyrgyz aqyn.
7. Sara is the name of a young Kazakh female aqyn with whom Aaly previously competed in Kazakhstan.
8. These are two Kyrgyz wrestlers who won the gold and silver medals at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2010.
9. Here Qanysha is addressing Sulayman Kaiypov, who served as the head of the judges, sitting in the front row to evaluate the aitysh.
10. Husband’s younger brother or male relative.
1. Bakay: one of the main characters in the epic Manas - an elderly wise man who served as Manas's adviser.
2. Gülsary: the name of a horse in Aitmatov's short novel Farewell, Gülsary!, written in 1966. The novel narrates the life journey of an old, golden chestnut horse in parallel to the life journey of an old man, Tanabay, who is a hard-working kolkhozchu, a collective farm worker who strongly believes in communist ideology. In 2008, Kazakhstan's state film company produced a new film based on Farewell, Gülsary! using the same title.
3. Jamila: the main heroine in Aitmatov's short novel Jamila, written in 1958. After reading the story, the French writer Louis Aragon called it "the world's most beautiful love story." The novel describes the difficult World War II years in a Kyrgyz village and the romance between a young married woman, Jamila, and a young man, Daniar, a soldier who returns wounded from the war and ends up working in the collective farm.
4. Akbara and Tashchaynar: a wolf couple (Akbara is a she-wolf and Tashchaynar a he-wolf) in Aitmatov's short novel Place of the Skull (Kyyamat in Kyrgyz, Plakha in Russian), written in 1986. The novel tells the story of a wolf pack that comes into contact with humans.
5. The reference is to the wolf couple in Place of the Skull.
Translation by Elise Anderson and Mutallip Iqbal
Translation by Elise Anderson and Mutallip Iqbal
1. Names of God.
2. A phrase from the Qur'an that refers to the creation of the universe by the word of Allah.
3. Houri refers to a "pure companion" made available to all believers in paradise.
4. The second month in the Muslim calendar
5. Shah Said al-Hasan (d. 1881) was the first Aga Khan, Imam of Mubarak Wakhani's time.