Monday, May 23, 2016

Usmon Azim writes

(A letter to my poet friend on Alpamysh)

Alpamysh is sleeping in the Arpali Desert.
I will not bother him.

If he wakes up, what shall we ask him to do,
Khurshid Davron?

Will he sell sunflower seeds at the Eski Juva market
Like my younger brother?
Or will he pick two tons of cotton like my elder brother?

What shall we ask him to do otherwise,
Khurshid Davron?

Will he take lessons of faithlessness from our uncle?
Or will he learn the ways of getting an award?

Would he hang himself when he sees our aunt’s shenanigans?
So, what shall we ask him to do,
Khurshid Davron? 

Do you think he can cope with drinking beer with us?
Or will he infringe the copyright of someone else’s book?

Do we care?

After all, it’s only our father who can take revenge on Alpamysh…
However, how could our father wake up
If Alpamysh is asleep?

Tr. Azam Abidov

Set design for Kazakh National Theater and Ballet 1973 production of  “Alpamys” -- Gulfairus Ismailov


  1. “Alpamysh” (“Alpamish” in Uzbek) is an oral dastan (epic) of the Turkish peoples that dates back to the 6th-8th centuries and achieved its final form between the 14th and 17th centuries. The Khongirad were one of the major divisions of the Mongol tribes, but they never united under a single leader, but they were the primary consort clan of Genghis Khan's dynasty; his mother, great grandmother, and first wife were all Khongirads, and the founder of the Mongol royal line was a woman of the Kharlas clan, a Khongirad offshoot. The dastan concerns one of their heroes, Alpamysh, and his struggle against the Kalmyk ruler, Taycha-khan. (The Kalmyk were the Mongolian Oirats, who waged a 400-year struggle against the Khalkha Mongols, the Ming dynasty in China, and the Manchus (who founded the Qing dynasty in China in 1644) over control of Mongolia, which ended in 1757 with the defeat of the Oirats in Dzungaria. The most extensive version was compiled by Fazil Juldashogly, with 14,000 verses in two parts. The first concerns Alpamys’ courtship of Barchin (Gulibairsen in the Siberian and Mongolian variants). In the second part, he is captured by Taycha-khan, who imprisons him in an underground dungeon for seven years, fed by Kaylubat, a shepherd. He escapes with the help of Taycha-khan’s daughter, kills him, and enthrones Kaykubat. Meanwhile, his young brother Ultantaz has become the despotic leader of the Khongirad and has forced Barchin to agree to marry him; in disguise, Alpamysh shows up at the wedding celebration and kills Ultantaz. Then Alpamysh unites the tribe under his leadership.
    Khurshid Devran is a celebrity Uzbek poet, historian, playwright, translator, and composer who has devoted much of his career to legendary historical figures.
    The Eski Juva bazaar in Tashkent is the biggest and oldest in Central Asia, in operaton for over 2,000 years. Tashkent began as four neighboring settlements, and the bazaar was set up between them. Tashkent was destroyed by the Arabs in the 8th century, burnt down on the orders of Chingizhan, the ruler of Khorezm, in the 13th century, and conquered by the Kokand Khanate early in the 19th century, but the bazaar continued. In the 19th century a citadel, Urda, was built nearby; one of its turrets was used as an arsenal; this building gave the bazaar its name: Eski Juva ("Old Tower").


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