A  L  P  A  M  Y  S  H 
                   Central Asian Identity 
                     under Russian Rule 
 
 
                        H. B. PAKSOY 
 
 
 
            Association for the Advancement of  
                   Central Asian Research 
                      Monograph Series 
 
 
 
                   Hartford, Connecticut 

First AACAR Edition, 1989 
 
ALPAMYSH: Central Asian Identity under Russian Rule 
 
COPYRIGHT 1979, 1989 by H. B. PAKSOY 
All Rights Reserved 
 
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 
 
Paksoy, H. B., 1948- 
ALPAMYSH: central Asian identity under Russian rule. 
(Association for the Advancement of Central Asian Research 
          monograph series) 
 
          Includes bibliographical references (p.    ) 
          Includes index. 
          1. Soviet Central Asia--History--Sources. 
          2. Alpamish.   3. Epic Literature, Turkic. 
          4. Soviet Central Asia--Politics and Government. 

I. Title.  
          II. Series. 
          DK847.P35  1989          958.4          89-81416 
          ISBN: 0-9621379-9-5 
          ISBN: 0-9621379-0-1 (pbk.) 
 
AACAR (Association for the Advancement of Central Asian 
Research) Monograph Series Editorial Board: Thomas Allsen 
(TRENTON STATE COLLEGE) (Secretary of the Board); Peter 
Golden (RUTGERS UNIVERSITY); Omeljan Pritsak (HARVARD 
UNIVERSITY); Thomas Noonan (UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA). 
 
AACAR is a non-profit, tax-exempt, publicly supported 
organization, as defined under section 501(c)(3) of the 
Internal Revenue Code, incorporated in Hartford, 
Connecticut, headquartered at the Department of History, 
CCSU, 1615 Stanley Street, New Britain, CT 06050. 
 
The Institutional Members of AACAR are: School of Arts and 
Sciences, CENTRAL CONNECTICUT STATE UNIVERSITY; Nationality
and Siberian Studies Program, The W. Averell Harriman 
Institute for the Advanced Study of the Soviet Union, 
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY; Mir Ali Shir Navai Seminar for Central
Asian Languages and Cultures, UCLA; Program for Turkish 
Studies, UCLA; THE CENTRAL ASIAN FOUNDATION, WISCONSIN; 
Committee on Inner Asian and Altaistic Studies, HARVARD 
UNIVERSITY; Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies, 
INDIANA UNIVERSITY;  Department of Russian and East 
European Studies, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA; THE NATIONAL 
COUNCIL FOR SOVIET AND EAST EUROPEAN RESEARCH, WASHINGTON 
D.C. 

Manufactured in the United States of America, 1989. 

 
                     TABLE OF CONTENTS 
 
 
Acknowledgements                                       i 
 
Preface                                                iii 
 
 
Chapter One 
      ALPAMYSH and the Turkic Dastan Genre             1 
 
Chapter Two 
     Attempts to Destroy and Save Alpamysh, Phase I    18 
 
Chapter Three 
     The Alpamysh Dastan                               50 
          Translation of Divay's 1901 Alpamysh         57 
          Commentary                                   98 
 
Chapter Four 
     Attempts to Destroy and Save Alpamysh, Phase II   120 
          Soviet Offensive                             120 
          Composite Synopsis of Alpamysh               127 
          Alpamysh and the dastan genre in perspective 151 
 
Select Bibliography                                    160 
 
Index                                                  163 
 
Appendix 
          Divay's 1901 Alpamysh                        165 




 
                      TO THE MEMORY OF 
             ABUBEKIR AHMEDJAN DIVAY (1855-1933) 
               AND TO HIS INTELLECTUAL HEIRS 



  

 
                                                          i

 
 
                      ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 
 
This work has been produced over a span of seven years, 
with research conducted on three continents, ten countries 
and almost two dozen cities. I offer my sincere gratitude 
to the libraries and librarians of a host of institutions 
situated in almost as many geographic locations. Among 
them, the following bore the brunt of my incessant queries:

Bodleian (especially the Oriental Reading Room); Oriental 
Institute; St. Antony's College; the St. Antony's Middle 
Eastern Center libraries --  all of Oxford University; 
School of Oriental and African Studies of London 
University; British Library; Slavic Reading Room of 
University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana; University of 
Wisconsin-Madison; Widener Library of Harvard University; 
Seminar fur Sprach und Kulturwissenschaft Zentralasien of 
Bonn University; Bibliotek National, Paris; Helsinki 
University; University of Washington, Seattle; Istanbul 
University; Regenstein Library of University of Chicago; 
Indiana University; UCLA; Library of Congress. In addition,
several Libraries in the USSR provided material. 
 
In due course, I have received advice, access, comments, 
criticism, editorials, materials, permits and permissions, 
recommendations, suggestions, specific items and 
encouragement, and more, from a multitude of individuals. I
thank them all: Thomas Allsen, Audrey L. Altstadt, A. 
Altay, Edward Allworth, Bugra Atsiz, C. E. Black, J. 
Bailey, D. Barrett, the late Alexandre Bennigsen, Y. 
Bregel, R. Campbell, Marianna Tax Choldin, Ilse Cirtautas, 
Robert Dankoff, M. Daly, Remy Dor, R. Dunnell, Turhan 
Gandjei, R. N. Frye, W. Feldman, Peter Golden, H. Halen, 
Gavin Hambly, A. T. Hatto, K. H. Karpat, Edward L. Keenan, 
D. E. Kline, Rahman Kul Kutlu, Habib Ladjevardi, Harold 
Leich, Geoffrey L. Lewis, Mrs. R. Lewis, A. Lord, A. Mango,
David Montgomery, Roy Mottahedeh, D. Nalle, H. Oraltay, 
Omeljan Pritsak, Nicholas Poppe, D. Ring, Klaus Sagaster, 
Nazif Shahrani, M. Mobin Shorish, Denis Sinor, Sinasi 
Tekin, Wayne S. Vucinich, S. Enders Wimbush. 
 
Obviously, especially at the latter stages, some of these 
individuals have suffered more than others. Profs. Geoffrey
L. Lewis and Audrey L. Altstadt have read and reread the 
manuscript, commented, re-interpreted and alternately 
caused me to view life from different perspectives with 
their observations. At certain points, Mrs. R. Lewis 
lightened the weight. Rahman Kul Kutlu calmly and 
pleasantly withstood a thorough and impatient 
interrogation, weeks on end, while I re-examined the 1901 
text with him. He divulged much, not the least of which was
his wisdom and experience. Prof. A. T. Hatto very kindly 
  
 
 
 
 
 
ii 
 
made time to check the translation; moreover, he took a 
special interest in the progress and the scholarly welfare 
of the author. Prof. R. Dor, with a special trip, made 
himself available to discuss problematic passages. Profs. 
Allworth, Cirtautas, Dankoff, Dunnell, Lord, Montgomery, 
Poppe and Pritsak asked the necessary questions and pointed
in the direction of solutions. D. Barrett, M. Daly and H. 
Leich did not hesitate to don their dust-masks before 
entering the stacks on my behalf, bringing otherwise 
unavailable or unknown materials to my attention. S. Enders
Wimbush always lent an eager ear, allowed himself to be the
sounding board. Thomas Allsen and Peter Golden, with 
characteristic care and attention, and with their 
magisterial command of sources, made certain that no 
undesirable loose-ends remain in the text. I could probably
carry on in this vein, but for fear of causing 
embarrassment. Any remaining errors are due to my 
insistence. 
 
During the years of 1983, 1984 and 1985, I received ORS 
Awards from the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and 
Principals of the Universities of the United Kingdom. In 
1984, a grant from the Society for Central Asian Studies 
(Oxford), facilitated field research among the Kirghiz. As 
a 1986 Associate of the Summer Research Lab of the Russian 
and East European Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-
Champaign, I have benefitted both from the Center resources
and the stimulating seminar discussions. Permanent 
International Altaistic Conferences in Chicago, Valberberg,
Venice and Bloomington, Indiana were amicable and fertile 
grounds to further research and discussion on the topic, in
part with the hospitality extended by the PIAC Secretariat.

Six different Central Asian Conferences, held between 1982 
and 1988, three at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in 
collaboration with Association of Central Asian Studies 
(Wisconsin), two at the W. Wilson Center-Kennan Institute 
for Advanced Russian Studies of the Smithsonian Institution
(Washington D. C.), one in Munich, with funds contributed 
by the organizers towards the travel and maintenance of the
author, provided forums of discussion, public and private, 
and afforded feedback from a conglomeration of scholars. 
The small but potent gatherings of the Society for Central 
Asian Studies were of no less value. I was able to maintain
the momentum in the last phases as a Faculty Associate of 
the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University, 
as well as through the functions of the Harvard Committee 
on Inner Asian and Altaic Studies. An earlier version of 
this work was accepted by the University of Oxford in 
partial fulfillment of the Faculty of Oriental Studies 
requirements towards my D. Phil. 
  
 
 
 
 
 
                                                        iii

 
There was no typist involved. The entire project, from its 
inception, through its several dozen iterations, was done 
entirely on word-processing computers. Along the way, I 
wore out two complete systems beyond repair. Despite the 
frustrations inherent in such man-machine interactions, 
they were of great help -- when they functioned. 
Consequently, if any typing errors are discovered, I am 
partly responsible. 
 
As for the structure and the contents of the work proper, I
assume full responsibility. 
  
 
 
 
 
 
iv 
 
 
 
                          PREFACE 
 
 
The present work employs the detailed study of one case to 
illustrate a pattern that may well exist in other cases. It
must be borne in mind that the subject population comprises
approximately one fifth of the Soviet Union (and steadily 
growing at a rapid pace) and spread across a substantial 
portion of the Asian continent. What is described in the 
following pages may have taken place with respect to other 
non-Russian nationalities in the USSR. Therefore, although 
this work focuses on Central Asian-Russian relations, it 
constitutes a possible model for analysis and investigation
of Soviet policy toward other nationalities. There is 
strong evidence to indicate that those policies toward 
history and literature which were applied to Alpamysh have 
already been employed with respect to various developing 
countries as well, not the least of which are those 
bordering the USSR. 
 
It is the hope of this writer that this inquiry will induce
others to pursue the questions raised here. Various 
disciplines and area studies might benefit from this 
investigation, aside from the obvious Central Asian and 
Soviet studies. The artificial separation of "areas" and 
disciplines, that have not existed during the evolution of 
the subject matter, cannot yield complete understanding. 
 
Given the restrictions imposed by the Soviet censorship and
bureaucracies who control collections of materials and 
published works, documentation is not exhaustive. It is 
anticipated that subsequent research shall unearth 
additional information. Therefore, the temptation to hold 
back and wait for such new discoveries is immense. I almost
succumbed to it, except for the constant reminders from 
friends and colleagues -- among other reasons, pointing to 
the number of copies of the manuscript I had circulated in 
the academic community for comments and criticism -- who 
have insistently hounded me to go to print. I do so with 
mixed feelings, for, since the completion of this 
manuscript, a German translation (GDR printing) of Alpamysh
has been issued. It was translated not from the original, 
but from an earlier Russian translation. Moreover, it has 
been discovered that at least one, or perhaps two 
additional printings of Alpamysh have been offered for sale
in Central Asia.  
  
 
 
 
 
 
                                                          1

 
 
 
     CHAPTER ONE: Alpamysh and the Turkic Dastan Genre 
 
 
 
Alpamysh is a Turkic dastan -- ornate oral history -- and 
 
prime representative of the Turkic oral literature of 
 
Central Asia. It is the principal repository of ethnic 
 
identity, history, customs, and the value systems of its 
 
owners and composers. Set mostly in verse, the Alpamysh 
 
dastan is known and recited from the eastern Altai to the 
 
western Ural mountain ranges and as far south as Band-e 
 
Turkestan. It commemorates the Turkic people's struggles 
 
for freedom. The events leading to the composition of the 
 
dastan may date from a very early period; though some 
 
published variants depict these struggles to be against 
 
Kalmak oppressors -- perhaps the result of later overlays. 
 
A major variant of the dastan, under the title "The Tale of

Bamsi Beyrek of the Grey Horse," forms part of the Book of 
 
Dede Korkut and is known in Azerbaijan and Asia Minor. 
 
Alpamysh is shared by Central Asians across the continent 
 
and knowledge of this dastan is an inseparable part of 
 
identity and national pride. Failure to know it was 
 
regarded as a source of shame. 
 
 
 
The struggle of the Central Asians to preserve this dastan 
 
in the face of Soviet attacks upon it is the central focus 
 
of the present work. The attacks and attempts to save the 
  
 
 
 
 
 
2                               H. B. Paksoy 
 
Alpamysh dastan may be divided into two "phases" -- the 
 
first is represented by the Central Asians' own efforts to 
 
record the dastan on paper and publish it widely in 
 
response to Russian occupation and ensuing Russification 
 
campaigns, Christian proselytization, "language reform," 
 
boundary revision and creation of special legal 
 
classifications and later, "nations," for Central Asians; 
 
the second "phase" involves altering the content of the 
 
dastan itself and its history or "lineage." The two 
 
"phases" are not successive and chronologically distinct, 
 
but overlap around the 1930s-1940s. The latest response to 
 
the attack has been a revival in the 1980s of dastans in a 
 
new form, as befits their own tradition. 
 
 
 
The in-depth examination of the struggle over the Alpamysh 
 
dastan, however, is more than the study of the treatment of

a single historical and literary monument. It represents 
 
Soviet policy in Central Asia and Central Asian resilience 
 
in preserving the historic identity and values. The case of

Alpamysh is a documentable and representative example of 
 
Russian rule --both imperial and Soviet -- in Central Asia.

 
 
 
The study of identity, inter alia dastans, also has 
 
political and military implications. As the academic 
 
historian and political actor Z. V. Togan noted at the time
 
of the Bolshevik revolution, it has been the Russian tactic

  
 
 
 
 
 
ALPAMYSH: Central Asian Identity Under Russian Rule       3

 
to absorb (biologically and culturally) the smaller non- 
 
Russian nationalities. Under the slogans of "friendship of 
 
peoples," the "drawing nearer" or "merging" of the peoples 
 
of the Soviet Union and other expressions of so-called 
 
"internationalism," Russian nationalism has been at work. 
 
The Russian's aim of absorbing the Central Asians could 
 
only be realized by breaking the Central Asians' link to 
 
their own past. 
 
 
 
Many Western groups have unwittingly aided official Russian
 
efforts to assimilate and absorb Central Asians. This is 
 
because those in the West too often accepted uncritically 
 
Russia's self-proclaimed "civilizing mission," and Russian 
 
arguments about alleged Central Asian inferiority. Critical

standards normally applied in Western assessment of Soviet 
 
economic performance are not always applied in this area of

research. Ironically, the Central Asians' own resistance --
 
expressed in print, in their own language -- has met with 
 
hostility abroad, even among those usually critical of the 
 
Soviets, perhaps for fear of "offending" the Soviet 
 
bureaucracy. 
 
 
 
In order to present this struggle to destroy and to save 
 
this widely shared dastan, the work at hand includes also a

full-length translation of a rare pre-revolutionary 
 
printing of Alpamysh as well as synopses of others. The 
  
 
 
 
 
 
4                               H. B. Paksoy 
 
discussion shall begin with the dastan genre itself and its
 
purpose in the history of Central Asia.   
 
 
 
  
 
THE DASTAN GENRE  
 
 
 
For the Central Asians, the oral record, particularly 
 
dastans, is an integral part of identity, historical memory

and the historical record itself. The oral tradition in 
 
Central Asia precedes the Common Era. It has been preserved

across multitudes of generations. It stands, as it always 
 
has, as the final line of defense against any attempts to 
 
dominate the Central Asians culturally or politically. 
 
 
 
The topic at hand primarily concerns the Turkic speaking 
 
populations of Central Asia, especially the role of the 
 
dastans in history, culture and politics. Thus the 
 
discussion of dastan in this work is confined to that 
 
sphere. Furthermore, it will not be the purpose of the 
 
present work to discuss the broad and complex "epic" 
 
tradition, which has been studied at length, nor to explore
 
the purely literary aspects of dastans.  In this work the 
 
Central Asian dastans are kept apart from the Islamic 
 
menakib, such as gazavatnama, fetihnama and the like, the 
 
bulk of which have appeared and spread after c. 12th 
 
century, and especially since the 15th century.  
  
 
 
 
 
 
ALPAMYSH: Central Asian Identity Under Russian Rule       5

 
In Central Asia, the tradition of "expression and 
 
celebration of ancestral exploits and identity" is older 
 
than the use of the word dastan, which appears as a later 
 
borrowing into Turkic dialects. For example, in the Kul 
 
Tegin stelas (732 A. D.), Bilge Kagan states: "Bu sabimin 
 
adguti asid, qatigdi tinla" ("Hear these words of mine 
 
well, and listen hard!").1 Some three hundred years later, 
 
Kashgarli Mahmud, in his Diwan Lugat at-Turk (1070s) uses 
 
the word saw (sab, sav) to indicate proverbs, messages and 
 
admonitions handed down by wise men.2 About a century 
 
after Kashgarli Mahmud, Ahmet Yesevi (d. 1167) wrote: "Let 
 
the scholars hear my wisdom/ Treating my word as a dastan, 
 
attain their desires."3 
 
 
 
Certainly the idea of marking important events with 
 
versified narrations or songs is not new. In fact, each 
 
significant event in the lives of Central Asians had its 
 
own type of "marker" song. The suyunju, celebrated good 
 
news, including the birth of the alp,4 especially after a 
 
tribe or individual had experienced difficulties. The 
 
yar-yar was sung at weddings. More than merely celebrating 
 
the union of the bride and groom, however, it also 
 
signalled the beginning of other courtships at the wedding 
 
feast. The koshtau was sung on the departure of the alp for

a campaign and the estirtu when an alp's death was 
 
announced. The yogtau was sung at yog ashi, the memorial 
  
 
 
 
 
 
6                               H. B. Paksoy 
 
feast (after burial) to lament the death of the alp. The 
 
jir, as in batirlik jiri, is the equivalent of dastan and 
 
includes all these components. However, in most cases, the 
 
celebration of the alp's tribulations and ensuing victory 
 
is referenced by the name of the alp only. Oghuz Khan, 
 
Manas, Koroglu, Kirk Kiz are some examples. At other times,

the term batir, or alp is appended to the name of the 
 
individual thus honored -- Kambar Batir, Chora Batir, Alp 
 
Er Tunga. However, despite the prevalent use of jir and 
 
kokcho (still revered in various portions of Central Asia),

the term dastan is employed throughout this work, in 
 
keeping with the usage of the secondary literature. 
 
 
 
Initially, the jir and its constituent components were 
 
composed to celebrate the feats and characteristics of the 
 
alp. In doing so, it was inescapable that the exemplary 
 
individual's attributes be compared to natural phenomena 
 
since he or she possesses rare qualities. Thus the alp can 
 
run as swift as lightning; his hair glows as bright as the 
 
sun; his body, in his prime, is as sturdy as the strongest 
 
tree; his punch mightier than a thunderbolt. Such "nature 
 
imagery" draws upon the values of shamanism, the dominant 
 
belief system of Central Asian Turks prior to the arrival 
 
of Islam in the 8th century A. D. Moreover, the use of the 
 
term bahsi (also ozan) designating the reciter of the jir 
 
also has shamanistic connotations. Such beliefs are 
  
 
 
 
 
 
ALPAMYSH: Central Asian Identity Under Russian Rule       7

 
discernible in the symbolism of the composition of the 
 
"marker songs." Later religious beliefs and practices are 
 
juxtaposed as additional layers, and can be easily 
 
identified. 
 
 
 
Traditionally, a dastan is composed by an ozan5 in order 
 
to celebrate a memorable event in the life of his people. 
 
The ozan will usually set the events in verse and recite 
 
them while accompanying himself on a stringed instrument.6 
 
 
 
The dastan typically depicts the alp, the travails of a 
 
central character, fighting against the collective enemies 
 
of his people and tribe, and under whose leadership the 
 
longed for victory is achieved. The trials and tribulations

endured by this preeminent leader, though aggravated by one
 
or more traitors, are in due course alleviated by a full 
 
supporting cast. Nor is the theme of love a stranger to the

plot. Often a central figure, the loved one, is abducted by

the enemy, only to be rescued by his or her mate after much

searching, fighting and sacrifice. There are attempts by 
 
the foes and the traitors to extort favors of various sorts
 
from the lovers, but this does not deter the resolve or the
 
eventual triumph of the principal personages. The traitors,

frequently from the same tribe as the alp, collaborate with

the enemy or abuse the trust of their people and their 
 
leaders.  However, none of this prevents the inescapable 
  
 
 
 
 
 
8                               H. B. Paksoy 
 
success of the alp in the end.  The traitors receive their 
 
due, being now and then executed for their sins but 
 
customarily forgiven and allowed to roam the earth in 
 
search of reconciliation between themselves and God. 
 
 
 
Reference to similar past experiences is standard and 
 
reinforces the very important link to earlier dastans.7 
 
Motifs or whole episodes from earlier dastans may be 
 
repeated, sometimes with variations, in new dastans.  
 
Religious motifs emerge in descriptions of practices and 
 
beliefs. Among the Islamic practices earlier modes of 
 
worship are apparent. The narration of the dastan, in verse

or prose, may also allude to supernatural powers.8 
 
 
 
The road to success is fraught with seemingly 
 
insurmountable barriers. At times, it appears that the 
 
cherished goal of regaining freedom is out of reach. In 
 
spite of the immense suffering of the alp and the 
 
overwhelming might of the enemy, in the end the people are 
 
freed from slavery, thanks to the alp's exemplary 
 
character, bravery, strength, and superhuman determination.

 
Freedom is invariably celebrated with a lavish toy (feast) 
 
and festivities. 
 
 
 
The dastan is revered not only as the word of the 
 
forefathers and repository of customs and traditions of the

  
 
 
 
 
 
ALPAMYSH: Central Asian Identity Under Russian Rule       9

 
creators and their descendants, but also because it is the 
 
narration of how the enemy was defeated. It celebrates the 
 
victory and the success of the leader-alp, and the unity, 
 
despite all odds.  
 
 
 
The dastan is the collective pride of tribes, 
 
confederations of tribes or even larger units, serving as 
 
birth certificate, national anthem and mark of citizenship 
 
all rolled into one.9 The dastan itself provides the 
 
framework to bond a coherent oymak, the ancestral unit, a 
 
division of a greater tribe.10  The terms "boy"- clan; 
 
"soy" (also, "urug") - family, lineage, are also used to 
 
denote subdivisions within a confederation, in which family

relations and obligations are well defined and of central 
 
importance. Members of the oymak share one language, 
 
religion and history. The name of the oymak serves as the 
 
surname of an individual as was true for those who fled the
 
Bolsheviks in the 1920s. It can be observed also among the 
 
refugees fleeing Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion of 
 
1979. 
 
  
 
The dastan travels with the Central Asians and, like its 
 
owners, it is not limited by geographic frontiers. Indeed, 
 
the idea of boundaries in the Western sense were alien to 
 
the nomadic societies of Central Asia and imposed on them 
 
late in their history. The ancestral homeland and grazing 
  
 
 
 
 
 
10                               H. B. Paksoy 
 
pastures, called "yurt" (although the term originally 
 
defined the mark left by the cylindrically shaped tent, the

tirik) were selected on the basis of traditional, 
 
historical, and lineage rights of a given oymak. The 
 
necessity to undertake biannual migrations in search of 
 
fresh pastures for the livestock complicated the definition

of a rigidly-defined "homeland". 
 
 
 
In the event that the heirs of a dastan face new threats to

their freedom, the importance of the dastan is reinforced. 
 
Should the enemy somehow prevail over the oymak, the 
 
dastan, by providing an unbreakable link to the past, 
 
affords the inspiration to seek independence once again. 
 
The fact that more than one oymak may identify with a given

dastan has far-reaching implications. In this context, 
 
Alpamysh enjoys a very special place among dastans, for all

major Turkic tribal units have at least one version which 
 
they call their own, although they may exhibit local 
 
variations.  
 
 
 
The theory that all major dastans are but a restructuring 
 
of the fragments of a "mother dastan" has been advanced by 
 
A. Inan. According to this theory, Oghuz Kagan is the first

 
dastan and throughout the ages fragments of it have been 
 
salvaged from obscurity and embellished by new experiences 
 
of other tribes of common ancestry.11 In addition, it is 
  
 
 
 
 
 
ALPAMYSH: Central Asian Identity Under Russian Rule      11

 
said that the Oghuz Kagan dastan has also influenced other 
 
dastans, some non-Turkic ones.12 
 
  
 
Generally, the contents of dastans are jealously guarded 
 
against any major textual changes. The prevailing attitude 
 
seems to be: "It has been handed down to us as such, and 
 
we'll keep it that way".13 For a given version, not even 
 
the minor details are permitted to be dropped or allowed to
 
be changed by the ozan.14 Therefore, traditionally, new 
 
dastans are created only under two circumstances: (A)  when

a major new alp successfully concludes the feats proper to 
 
his calling and it is time to celebrate his exploits;  (B) 
 
when the possessors of a given dastan are threatened with 
 
the yoke of an outsider.  
 
 
 
     (A) Traditionally, every successful major feat must be
 
celebrated by a toy. At such a gathering, "mountains of 
 
meat" are cheerfully devoured, and "lakes of kimiz"15 
 
joyfully drained. The center piece of the festivities was 
 
the recitation of the dastan which in a real sense 
 
sanctified the occasion.  
 
  
 
If the event preceding the toy was of sufficiently 
 
monumental proportions in the minds of its participants and

observers, then the ozan may see fit to create a new 
 
dastan, which will place the current alp-leader on a 
  
 
 
 
 
 
12                               H. B. Paksoy 
 
pedestal. Portions of the new dastan will certainly be 
 
borrowed from the older dastans, and the older ones will 
 
not be forgotten. It would be a mistake, however, to regard

this as plagiarism. The new alp is simply being compared to
 
his predecessors, reassuring the audiences of this new 
 
alp's prowess and exemplary and noble qualities, thereby 
 
forming yet another link with the collective past. The 
 
intention is to prove that he is every bit as brave and 
 
resourceful as the ancient Alps. This borrowing need not be

verbatim. The ozan may decide to recall worthy incidents or

motifs from a more ancient dastan, either by directly 
 
quoting these older passages or by adapting them to 
 
contemporary needs. This may be one reason for the 
 
existence of at least fifty Turkic dastans (exclusive of 
 
their variants).  
 
  
 
It is conceivable that the audience too may participate in 
 
the creation of the new dastan, just as they serve as a 
 
judge of the authenticity and completeness of an old one. 
 
The listeners are continually evaluating the performance 
 
and verifying its contents, comparing it to other 
 
recitations they have heard. The ozan usually provides the 
 
longest possible version of the dastan in deference to his 
 
audience. Manas, the great Kirghiz dastan is a prime 
 
example of this love of detail. It contains one million 
 
lines and requires up to six months to perform. The 
  
 
 
 
 
 
ALPAMYSH: Central Asian Identity Under Russian Rule      13

 
ornaments of the alp's saddle alone may require many tens 
 
of lines to portray adequately.16  If the ozan is for any 
 
reason inclined to abbreviate the full narration, the 
 
assembled audience will feel cheated and will inevitably 
 
protest. In a similar vein, it is not inconceivable that 
 
during the creation of a new dastan the audience may 
 
suggest the borrowing of certain descriptions from other 
 
dastans, which better describe, for example, the details of

the alp's sword or headgear. 
 
 
 
During extended periods of relative stability, some of the 
 
dastans may "spin off" their lyrical parts, thus allowing 
 
the creation of new romantic dastans. In this case, the 
 
motifs related to the fight to throw off the yoke of an 
 
invading oppressor are subordinated to the romantic 
 
portions of a dastan. A young man meets a beautiful girl, 
 
they fall in love, they desire to be married. However, 
 
either the parents do not give their consent or the girl is

betrothed to another. The prospective groom may undergo a 
 
series of tests or have to overcome monumental 
 
difficulties, enduring severe hardships to prove his love. 
 
Success brings a happy ending and the lovers are finally 
 
united in marriage, although the "happy ending" is by no 
 
means always assured.  
 
  
  
 
 
 
 
 
14                               H. B. Paksoy 
 
Tahir ve Zuhre is an example of such a romantic dastan, 
 
seemingly having been "spun off" from Alpamysh. Vambery had

encountered Tahir ve Zuhre when he masqueraded as a dervish

in Central Asia in the 1860s. He subsequently included 
 
portions of it in one of his works.17 Vambery was in 
 
Central Asia at a time when inter-tribal rivalry was in 
 
decline and immediate Russian pressure was still minimal. 
 
This relative calm seems to have favored the development of

a romantic dastan. A version of Tahir ve Zuhre was also 
 
discovered in Kashgar.18 
 
 
Later, the lyrical dastans may also have been converted, or

simplified into masal or folk tales, perhaps intended to be
 
used much like nursery rhymes, recited to cranky children 
 
to help pass the long winter nights.19  
 
 
     (B) When a new leader-alp emerges to take charge of a 
 
given tribe or confederation, it is usually out of a 
 
desperate need to fight for their rights and traditional 
 
way of life. The tribe or confederation may have fallen 
 
under the rule of an outside power. If this group is lucky 
 
enough to have reared an able alp to lead them, they will 
 
either stand and fight on the spot or else migrate beyond 
 
their reach (at times temporarily), using elaborate ruses 
 
to confuse any pursuit. 
  
 
 
 
 
 
ALPAMYSH: Central Asian Identity Under Russian Rule      15

 
If in the course of previous conflicts the tribe in 
 
question has lost many of its young men, or if prevailing 
 
circumstances are not favorable, then they may have to wait

for a generation or two to act. Under these conditions, an 
 
old dastan may be modified to suit foreseeable future needs

or a brand new dastan may be constructed from the fragments

of several old ones.20 
 
  
 
During this gestation period (literal as well as 
 
figurative) the dastan is the sole source of consolation. 
 
It not only keeps the fires of revenge burning, but also 
 
conditions the children psychologically for future "alply" 
 
duties. The dastan, then, is employed to convey the 
 
aspirations of the present generation to those of the 
 
future. The dastan becomes a last will and testament.21 
 
 
 
In this case, the adaptation process alluded to above (that

is, borrowing motifs from other dastans) may be subtle or 

not, depending on the languages spoken by the oppressors or
 
the relative distance of the homeland from that of the 
 
invaders. If the comparison of the new and the ancient alps
 
can be freely made (i. e. without interference from the 
 
suzerain or his administrators), the similarities may not 
 
be hidden. If, on the other hand, there is reason to be 
 
cautious, borrowed motifs will be cleverly concealed. Only 
 
those who are familiar with the original dastan (or with 
  
 
 
 
 
 
16                               H. B. Paksoy 
 
the alp) will be able to detect the similarities and 
 
understand its new message.22 
 
 
Since Alpamysh has only been printed under Russian imperial

and Soviet administrations, it is instructive to note the 
 
description of the dastan in the most accessible Soviet 
 
sources. Below is the definition of "dastan" as it appears 
 
in the Uzbek Sovet Entsiklopediyasi (USE).  
 
 
 
     "Specific to Eastern literature, multipart 
      lyrical-epic style poetic work. In the dastan, 
      the known historical developments of the people's 
      life are characterized. The essence of 
      traditions, folk tales and legends of the people 
      is related by the bards. In format, as can be 
      observed in various Uzbek literary and folkloric 
      examples, verse is mixed with prose. 
  
     "...beginning with the oldest times, the dastan 
      genre is divided into three categories: heroic 
      (for example, in Uzbek folklore, Alpamysh); 
      romantic (many examples) and didactic (such as 
      the Kutadgu Bilig by Yusuf Hass Khajib, Navai's 
      Hayrat ul-Abrar). In some dastans, all three of 
      the above attributes are united (for example 
  
 
 
 
 
 
ALPAMYSH: Central Asian Identity Under Russian Rule      17

 
      Navai's Saddi Iskandari is both romantic and 
      didactic). 

     "The Uzbek dastan has ancient roots. Even in the 
      primitive period, the creative powers of our 
      people began to be seen in their heroic epics. 
      This is verified by the contents of the funerary 
      monuments erected along the banks of the Yenisey 
      and Orkhon rivers, in memory of Kul Tegin and 
      Bilge Kagan (5th-8th centuries), and by the 
      Divan-i Lugat it-Turk (1076-1077) of the medieval 
      Mahmud Kashgari who included literary pieces to 
      this effect in his work....  
  
     "In the examples referred to above of literary 
      works of the old civilizations, it is also 
      possible to observe the liberation struggles of 
      Oghuz, Kipchak, Kirghiz, Yagma and Sogdian tribal 
      units against wandering raiders. The defense of 
      their homelands by force of arms, their victories 
      and the rout of their enemies are elaborated in 
      epic style....  
  
     "The Book of Dede Korkut, of the ancient 
      literature of the Turkic peoples (written down in 
      the 16th century), displays the format of the 
  
 
 
 
 
 
18                               H. B. Paksoy 
 
      peoples' epic-lyric style literature and the 
      summarized characteristics above. It contains 12 
      stories, depicting the exploits of the powerful 
      Oghuz heroes and their Khan Bayindir. What is 
      important is the fact that the narrator of these 
      stories, Dede Korkut, is also a participant in 
      the events he chronicles and is an advisor to the 
      ruling elite. Furthermore, the story of Bamsi 
      Beyrek in the Book of Dede Korkut is an ancient 
      variant of the Alpamysh dastan.  It displays 
      detailed scenes from the heroic deeds of the 
      Oghuz people and their patriarchal structure, the 
      courage in combat of their valiant fighters, 
      confirming the evolution of this literary 
      genre....  
  
     "...legendary warlike abilities of selfless 
      heroes as perceived by the masses are reflected 
      in these types of works."23 
 
  
 
By contrast, the Bol'shaia Sovetskaia Entsiklopediia (BSE),

under "dastan" speaks of the "Persian epic genre; among 
 
which The Book of Dede Korkut is an example." It states 
 
that "Firdousi's Shahname is one such work, among others." 
 
The entry, of approximately 240 words, refers only in 
 
passing to the fact that there are "Uzbek, Karakalpak, and 
  
 
 
 
 
 
ALPAMYSH: Central Asian Identity Under Russian Rule      19

 
Turkic dastans as well".24 The article "dastan" in the USE 
 
(cited above) contains almost 1000 words. 
 
 
 
The USE entry contains references to three specific works 
 
as predecessors of the dastan genre. They are also hailed 
 
as the ancient literary treasures of the Central Asian 
 
Turkic peoples and the messages they bear may be found also

in the dastan Alpamysh. Below are some relevant passages 
 
from two of those treasures -- the Kul Tegin inscriptions 
 
(early 8th c.) and Kutadgu Bilig (mid-11th c.). 
 
  
 
The Kul Tegin Inscriptions  
 
 
     "When the blue sky above and the reddish-brown 
     earth below were created, between the two, human 
     beings were created... my ancestors Bumin Kagan 
     and Istami Kagan became rulers... they organized 
     and ruled the state and institutions of the 
     Turkish people...  Wise kagans were they, brave 
     kagans were they..."  
 
 
 
The tablet then describes the "unwise" successors who let 
 
the state go to ruin and the "unruliness" of the people who

were seduced by the "soft words and soft materials" of the 
 
Chinese, left their own country and submitted to the 
 
Chinese, became their servants and slaves, gave up their 
  
 
 
 
 
 
20                               H. B. Paksoy 
 
Turkish titles and adopted Chinese titles, and went on 
 
military campaigns to conquer for the Chinese emperor. 
 
 
 
     "Then, the Turkish common people apparently said 
     as follows: 'We used to be a people who had an 
     (independent) state. Where is our own state now? 
     For whose benefit are we conquering these lands?' 
     they said. 'We used to be a people who had its 
     own kagan. Where is our own kagan now? To which 
     kagan are we giving our services?' 
 
     [Despite the Chinese decision to kill the 
     potentially rebellious Turks,] the Turkish god 
     above and the Turkish holy earth and water 
     (spirits below) ... held my father, Ilteris 
     Kagan, and my mother, Ilbilga Katun, at the top 
     of heaven and raised them upwards... (My father, 
     the kagan) after he had founded (such a great) 
     empire and gained power, passed away....  
 
     "We had such a well-acquired and well-organized 
     state and institutions. You, Turkish and Oguz 
     lords and peoples, hear this! If the sky above 
     did not collapse, and if the earth below did not 
     give way, O Turkish people, who would be able to 
     destroy your state and institutions? O Turkish 
  
 
 
 
 
 
ALPAMYSH: Central Asian Identity Under Russian Rule      21

 
     people, regret and repent! Because of your 
     unruliness, you yourselves betrayed your wise 
     kagan who had (always) nourished you, and you 
     yourselves betrayed your good realm which was 
     free and independent, and you (yourselves) caused 
     discord. From where did the armed [sic] come and 
     put you to flight? From where did the lancer come 
     and drive you away? You, people of the sacred 
     Otukan mountains, it was you who went away...  
     your (only) profit was the following: your blood 
     ran like a river, and your bones were heaped up 
     like a mountain; your sons worthy of becoming 
     lords became slaves, and your daughters worthy of 
     becoming ladies became servants."25 
 
  
 
Kutadgu Bilig 
 

     156   Wisdom proclaims its own meaning thus: when 
     a man knows wisdom, then illness stays far from 
     him... Intellect is a leading rein: if a man 
     leads by it, he achieves his goal and enjoys 
     countless desires. A man of intellect provides a 
     multitude of benefits and a man of wisdom is very 
     precious. With intellect a man accomplishes all 
     his affairs, and with wisdom he preserves from 
     spoils his allotted time.  
  
 
 
 
 
 
22                               H. B. Paksoy 
 
  
 
     186   I speak these words and give this counsel 
     to you... If I bequeath to you gold and silver, 
     do not consider that to be equal to these words. 
     Apply silver to affairs and it will be used up, 
     but apply my words and you will gain silver. 
     Words are one man's legacy to another. So hold to 
     the legacy of my words, and the profit therefrom 
     will be a hundredfold. 
  
     317   Intellect is a good friend who is bound to 
     you by oath, and wisdom is a brother to you, very 
     loyal. To the ignoramus, his own "wisdom" and his 
     own deeds are enemies: even if he has no others, 
     these two are enough trouble for him. The 
     following Turkish proverb has come down 
     illustrating this truth -- read it and take it to 
     heart: To the man of intellect, intelligence is a 
     sufficient companion; to the man of ignorance, a 
     curse is sufficient name.  
 
     2386   If the enemy attacks, do not turn your 
     back. Stand firm and his attack will be broken. 
     If he moves, move after him; push on, march 
     forward, do not stand still.26 
  
 
 
 
 
 
ALPAMYSH: Central Asian Identity Under Russian Rule      23

 
The Kul Tegin inscriptions leave a clear message: Your 
 
ancestors were surrounded by hostile forces and nations, 
 
they made several mistakes -- they did not appreciate their

wise rulers, they left their homeland and settled among 
 
enemy peoples who promise luxury; they did not use their 
 
wits and as a result were almost annihilated. The Turks 
 
finally woke up and fought their way to freedom. Do not 
 
repeat their mistakes, otherwise you might not get another 
 
chance for freedom. When the Turks were united, they were 
 
strong, all their enemies stayed away from them. When they 
 
became fragmented, they became slaves. Do not be deceived 
 
by presents that are designed to placate you. Those nations

who give you such presents are actually plotting to 
 
exterminate your lineage by separating you from your 
 
homeland.  
 
 
 
The message of Kutadgu Bilig also is clear: Think, learn, 
 
be wise. Value wisdom and intelligence above material 
 
riches. The words of the wise are your legacy -- pass on 
 
your knowledge to the future generations. Do not fear 
 
anything except ignorance and the ignoramus; use your 
 
intellect; there are brave and knowledgeable Turks in the 
 
past who have done great deeds, they were manly. Money 
 
cannot accomplish these things, but if you follow their 
 
example you will have money, too. Handing down your 
 
experiences is not without danger. However, the potential 
  
 
 
 
 
 
24                               H. B. Paksoy 
 
results are well worth the risk -- your legacy is 
 
important. Pursue your enemy, do not turn back, be brave.  
  
 
The dastan Alpamysh contains elements from all of the 
 
ancestral admonitions noted above -- the appreciation and 
 
love of homeland and the dire consequences of settling 
 
among adversaries, the beauty of the native language, 
 
bravery in battle, the unbridled desire for freedom and the

readiness to fight for it, the longing for the cohesion and

dignity of the larger family unit, respect for elders and 
 
loyalty to members of the family and friends, the necessity

of keeping your word, the importance of utilizing one's own
 
wits. 
 
 
 
Despite the large area inhabited by the tens of millions of

Turks of Central Asian origin, and despite the inevitable 
 
diversity of their political experiences throughout 
 
history, their differential patterns of nomadism and 
 
settlement, adoption of Islam (from the 9th to 18th 
 
centuries), and separate treatment and legal classification

since the Russian conquests (16th-19th c), there is still 
 
great linguistic and cultural unity among them. They 
 
constitute something like an enormous, varied family, but 
 
with numerous shared customs, values and traditions -- even

apart from the Islamic -- as well as mutually intelligible 
 
linguistic dialects. These are reflected in the many Turkic

  
 
 
 
 
 
ALPAMYSH: Central Asian Identity Under Russian Rule      25

 
dastans known across Central Asia, Caucasia and Anatolia 
 
and were reinforced by realignments at various times -- 
 
over the centuries -- of Turkic subtribal units into new 
 
tribes or tribal confederations. That Alpamysh is so widely

shared demonstrates this firm common ground. Other dastans 
 
and written works are also referred to by present-day 
 
Central Asians as antecedents to their contemporary 
 
language, proverbs and customs.27 The grey wolf legend of 
 
the Oghuz Khan dastan (Oghuzname) is part of the "creation 
 
mythology" among many groups that regard themselves as 
 
descendants of the Oghuz Turks. Contemporary Central Asian 
 
scholars and writers emphasize DLT and the Orkhon 
 
inscriptions and Kutadgu Bilig as sources for the study of 
 
their own written literature and linguistic forms. All this

reflects a far greater degree of cultural-linguistic unity 
 
-- and the knowledge of it on the part of the Central 
 
Asians -- than is suggested by the Russians' artificial use

of "separate language" and "nation" terminology. 
 
 
 
At the same time, this is most emphatically not to be 
 
confused, as some writers have done, with Pan-Turkism 
 
(sometimes "Pan-Turanism"). Pan-Turkism has long been 
 
defined as a movement, ostensibly by Turks, to establish 
 
hegemony over the world, or at least Eurasia. A few remarks

on this misconception seem appropriate. 
  
 
 
 
 
 
26                               H. B. Paksoy 
 
This "Pan" movement has no historical ideological precedent
 
among Turks and has been documented to be a convenient 
 
political creation of the age of European imperial 
 
expansion. Following the Russian occupation of Tashkent in 
 
1865, which seemed to threaten British India and to which 
 
the British responded with their "Forward Policy," the 
 
doctrine called "Pan-Turanism" or "Pan-Turkism" appeared in
 
a work by Hungarian Orientalist Arminius Vambery. He 
 
described a great potential Turkic state stretching from 
 
the Bosphorus to the Great Wall. Its aim was to encourage 
 
the Turks to form a buffer between the expanding Russian 
 
empire and the British Raj, to check the Russian advance 
 
toward South. At the same, this "Pan" movement seemed to 
 
justify any action to defend "Christendom," as in the age 
 
of the crusades. Vambery, it is now known, was working for 
 
the British government.28 
 
  
 
The doctrine was invented, propagated and attributed to the

Turks by the Europeans, particularly the British, as a 
 
diplomatic tool in their relations with each other and with

the declining Ottoman Empire. Dubbed the "Great Game in 
 
Asia" by Kipling and others, the origins and character of 
 
this contest have been amply discussed by E. Ingram.29 The 
 
Russians, too, invoked this artificial doctrine for their 
 
own purposes. With the encouragement of the government, 
 
Russian journalists and academics began to portray their 
  
 
 
 
 
 
ALPAMYSH: Central Asian Identity Under Russian Rule      27

 
conquests of Central Asia as belated revenge against 
 
earlier manifestations of "Pan-Turanianism," such as 
 
Timur's (d. 1405) invasion of Muscovy and more indirectly, 
 
the imposition of the "Tatar yoke" by the descendants of 
 
Chingiz Khan (d. 1227). 
 
 
 
The doctrine was embellished by French historian, L. Cahun,

in his Introduction a l'Histoire de l'Asie, Turcs, et 
 
Mongols, des Origines  140530 which argues that a belief 
 
in his own racial superiority motivated the conquests of 
 
the Mongol Chingiz Khan. It is perhaps not coincidental 
 
that this book was published on the heels of the 1893-1894 
 
Franco-Russian rapprochement, at a time when Russia 
 
justified its conquest of Central Asia as part of its own 
 
"civilizing mission." 
 
  
 
In the Secret History of the Mongols, written shortly after

the death of Chingiz Khan in 1227, there is, of course, no 
 
reference to the racial superiority of the Mongols. 
 
Instead, it quotes Chingiz: "Tangri opened the gate and 
 
handed us the reins,"31 indicating that Chingiz regarded 
 
only himself ruling by divine order. Chingiz himself was 
 
and remained the focus of power, as opposed to the clans 
 
under his rule. In any event, the Mongols are not Turks and

Mongol armies were distinctly multi-racial.32 
  
 
 
 
 
 
28                               H. B. Paksoy 
 
Another representative sample of this early phase of the 
 
"movement" is A Manual on the Turanians and 
 
Pan-Turanianism33 (published by the British Admiralty, 
 
during the First World War) a work based on Vambery's 
 
Turkenvolk34 and compiled by Sir Denison Ross.35 Even 
 
Alexander Kerensky, in Paris exile after the Bolshevik 
 
Revolution, was utilizing the same "Turanian" rhetoric, 
 
calling it "a menace threatening the world."36  
 
 
Despite its European origins and its European goals, the 
 
idea took root among some Central Asian emigres, especially

those living in Europe, as it promised the removal of the 
 
Russian occupation and subsequent colonization in their 
 
homelands.  
 
 
Accusations of "Pan-Turkism" are still employed today, 
 
especially but not exclusively in the Soviet Union, against

even cultural movements, scholarly works on the common 
 
origins and language of the Turks, used specifically as a 
 
charge against those who refute the Soviet position that 
 
the Turkish dialects are separate and distinct "languages,"

and even against the use in works of art of such symbols as

the crescent moon, which, in any event, is an Islamic 
 
symbol. 
   
  
 
 
 
 
 
ALPAMYSH: Central Asian Identity Under Russian Rule      29

 
History, politics and literature have always been 
 
inseparable in Central Asia. This tradition is continuing 
 
as always, regardless of the mode of government. Therefore,

it is imperative that one be equipped with the necessary 
 
historical knowledge to understand fully the implications 
 
of any particular historical or literary work. The 
 
interrelations of historical references to present 
 
conditions roughly display the political tendencies or 
 
positions current at the time of writing. From all 
 
indications, appearing in the Central Asian press, in their

dialects, what the Central Asians are interested in is 
 
nothing short of a "commonwealth" of Turki speakers (akin 
 
to the "commonwealth of English speakers" around the 
 
globe), building upon their historical culture. After all, 
 
the Central Asians are living on their ancestral lands. 
 
 
 
 
 
STUDY OF DASTANS 
 
 
 
The Turkic dastan genre has been subjected to a limited 
 
type and amount of study by the scholarly world, both 
 
Eastern and Western. It is limited in that attention has 
 
been focused on the format and translation, as opposed to 
 
the reasons why they were composed. Moreover, the effects 
 
of the dastans on the populations whose ancestors had 
 
created this ornate oral history are seldom if ever 
  
 
 
 
 
 
30                               H. B. Paksoy 
 
discussed. On the contrary, the dastan genre has been 
 
classified by Russians of the tsarist and Soviet regimes 
 
solely as folklore. In return, the folklore studies have 
 
been elevated to the level of "hard science."37 Such 
 
terminology is then imposed on the Central Asian scholars 
 
interested in working on the topic. 
 
  
 
Major Central Asian collectors and scholars of dastans who 
 
stress the importance of the ornate oral histories are A. 
 
A. Divay (Divaev)38, Hamid Alimjan [Olimjan], Gazi Alim, 
 
M. Ghabdullin, Tura Mirzaev, T. Sydykov, and the Russian V.

M. Zhirmunskii, all of whose works are discussed below. 
 
 
 
In the West, there are a number of interested researchers 
 
concerned with oral literature39 and the epic. Between 
 
1964 and 1972, a seminar to study the "traditions of the 
 
epic" was led by Prof. Arthur Hatto at Queen Mary College 
 
of London University. The participants, mainly scholars 
 
with a common interest in epic poetry, by and large 
 
concentrated on acquainting each other, and those who cared
 
to read the ensuing works, with the genre in general. One 
 
of the fruits of the London Seminar on the epic was 
 
published in 1980.40  
 
 
Since the 1960s Western researchers have been taking more 
 
interest in dastans, particularly in the problem of 
  
 
 
 
 
 
ALPAMYSH: Central Asian Identity Under Russian Rule      31

 
translation. Besides the translations of the works cited 
 
above (the Orkhon tablets, Divan-i Lugat it-Turk and 
 
Kutadgu Bilig), the dastans The Book of Dede Korkut, and 
 
Kokotoy (a cycle of Manas)41 are two of the more notable 
 
complete works that have been rendered into English. 
 
Geoffrey L. Lewis, in the introduction to his Dede Korkut 
 
translation seems to be the only Western scholar to date 
 
who has addressed the question of why the dastan was 
 
created. A. T. Hatto, on the other hand, explored the 
 
possible political use of Kokotoy in the latter part of the
 
19th century.42  
 
  
 
Zeki Velidi Togan published four papers under the general 
 
title "Turk Milli Destaninin Tasnifi" ("Classification of 
 
Turks' National Dastan") in 1931.43 According to Togan:  
  
 
     "National dastans, rather than describing precise 
     historical events, reflect a nation's spirit and 
     feelings. Dastans may or may not, in their 
     entirety, be based on historical events.  
     However, they are people's literary monuments. 
     Dastans pass through three evolutionary stages: 
     (1.) Folk poets relate, in small pieces, a series 
     of ventures from various periods; (2.) An event 
     which concerns the entire nation channels these 
     fragments into a focal point, forming a dastan; 
  
 
 
 
 
 
32                               H. B. Paksoy 
 
     (3.) In the end when a nation faces a monumental 
     event, an enlightened poet collects these 
     fragmentary dastans to create the great national 
     dastan...  
 
     "Turks have been through the second stage several 
     times. The dastans which collect the ideals of 
     the Turkish nation came into being due to events 
     such as the rule of Oghuz. However, these dastans 
     did not enter the third stage of collection by a 
     great poet in order to become an evolved national 
     dastan. As yet we have only fragments of the 
     great dastans."  
 
  
 
Another exception is N. Atsiz, who wrote a number of works 
 
on the importance of dastans and pointed to the following 
 
debate between Z. V. Togan and F. Koprulu: 
 
 
 
     "Togan, though conceding that the stories 
     pertaining to Danishmend Ghazi and Seyid Battal 
     Ghazi may have taken their themes from the Islam- 
     Byzantium struggles in Anatolia, maintained that 
     these struggles did not reflect the Seljuk 
     period, but the earlier Arab era. Consequently, 
     Togan did not regard them as Turkic dastans. On 
     the other hand, F. Koprulu did not share this 
  
 
 
 
 
 
ALPAMYSH: Central Asian Identity Under Russian Rule      33

 
     view, stressing the position that these stories 
     may have been born among the Turkic elements 
     present in the Umayyad and especially Abbasid 
     armies during Islam-Byzantium struggles in 
     Anatolia."44 
 
 
 
The history of the study of the Alpamysh dastan in the 
 
Russian Empire/Soviet Union is complex and interweaves the 
 
collection, publishing and republishing since the late 19th

century. This was the key arena in which "Phase I" of the 
 
struggle to obliterate and to save the dastan was fought. 
 
These processes are linked to Communist Party of the Soviet

 
Union (CPSU) policy directives to the Oriental Institutes 
 
of the USSR and the latter's activities. It is to this 
 
"first phase" of the struggle embodied in these broad 
 
issues of collection, publishing and the surrounding events

that we turn in the next Chapter. 
  
 



34                               H. B. Paksoy 
 
 
NOTES TO CHAPTER ONE 

 
 1. T. Tekin, A Grammar of Orkhon Turkic, (Bloomington,
1968, P.  231. Both the original and the translation are
from this source. 
 
 2. Diwan Lugat at-Turk by Kashgarli Mahmud (written in
1070s),  was translated as A Compendium of the Turkic
Dialects by Robert  Dankoff in collaboration with James
Kelly, (Cambridge, MA:  Harvard University Press, 1982-85).
The volume was printed in the  Sources of Oriental
Literature series, Sinasi Tekin and Gonul  Alpay Tekin,
editors, Harvard (Volumes, labelled "Parts" I, II,  III
published in 1982, 1984, 1985, respectively.  This term is 
defined in Part III, p. 157, and used on p. 227 of Part II
(P.  512 of the manuscript). 
 
 3. "Meni hikmetlerim dana eshitsin/ Sozum dastan kilib
maksadiga  yitsin." See  K. Eraslan, Hikmet (Ankara, 1983),
P. 280. 
 
 4. The term alp is used interchangeably with batir, batur,
bagatur meaning "valiant," "gallant," "brave" as attributes
of a  skilled and fearless champion tested in battle or
contest. See  Sir Gerard Clauson, An Etymological
Dictionary of  Pre-Thirteenth-Century Turkish (Oxford,
1972), 127. See also the  entry "Batir," in John Hangin, A
Concise English-Mongolian  Dictionary (Indiana, 1970), 270.


 5. In The Book of Dede Korkut, the bard is called an ozan.
See  the translation by G. L. Lewis (Penguin, 1974). Such a
person is  also called bahshi, akin, ashik, shaman, kam in
various  locations. Gazi Alim uses "akin," whereas Hamid
Alimjan calls the  reciter "bahshi." 
 
 6. Usually this musical instrument is referred to as kobuz
or  kopuz. A descendant of kopuz is still known and used as
saz or  baglama in Asia Minor. A representative sample may
be seen in the  Pitt-Rivers Museum. For a full description,
with photographs, see  Bolat Saribaev, Kazaktin Muzikalik
Aspaptari (Alma-Ata, 1978).  Also Doerfer, "Turkische und
Mongolische Elemente," Neupersischen  III (Wiesbaden,
1967), 1546. 
 
 7. Even the Orkhon inscriptions of the early 8th century
A. D.  employ flashbacks. 
 
 8. Boratav theorized that the supernatural content of
literature  in oral tradition is directly proportional to
the distance it has  travelled from its birthplace. That
is, the further away from the  location where the work was
originally composed, the more magical  elements it will
contain. See P. N. Boratav, Halk Hikayeleri ve 
Hikayeciligi (Ankara, 1946). 
  
 
 
 
 
 
ALPAMYSH: Central Asian Identity Under Russian Rule      35
 
 9.  Political borders and boundaries have not applied to
the  Central Asians until such artificial limitations were
forcibly  imposed upon them quite recently.  See Rene
Grousset, The Empire  of the Steppes, (Tr. N. Walford) (New
Brunswick, NJ, 1970),  221-2, 253; also see  O. Caroe.
Soviet Empire, the Turks of  Central Asia and Stalinism
(London, 1953); also Zeki Velidi  Togan, Bugunku Turkili
Turkistan ve Yakin Tarihi, (2nd. Ed.)  (Istanbul, 1981). 
 
 10.  See Z. V. Togan, Turkistan, 39, Note 18. See also I. 
Kafesoglu, Turk Milli Kulturu (Istanbul, 1984) (3rd. Ed.), 
passim. 
 
 11. A. Inan, Makaleler ve Incelemeler (Ankara, 1968). See
also Z.  V. Togan, Oguz Destani (Istanbul, 1972); H. N.
Orkun, "Oguz  Destanina Dair," Ulku, V. 5, Sayi 30, 1935;
F. Sumer, "Oguzlara  Ait Destani Mahiyette Eserler," 
Ankara Universitesi DTC  Fakultesi Dergisi, 1959; and, D.
Sinor, "Oguz Kagan Destani  Uzerine Bazi Mulahazalar," (Tr.
from French by Ahmet Ates) Turk  Dili ve Edebiyati Dergisi,
1952. 
 
 12. See introduction to Secere-i Terakime (Facsimile)
(Ankara,  1937); A. Inan, "Destan-i Cengiz Han Kitabi
Hakkinda," in  Azerbaycan Yurt Bilgisi, Year 3, No. 25,
1934. 
 
 13. G. M. H. Schoolbraid, The Oral Epic of Siberia and
Central  Asia (Indiana, 1975). 
 
 14. The ozan also had other duties within the oymak. See
Fuat  Koprulu, "Ozan," in Azerbaycan Yurt Bilgisi, No. 3.
1932.  Reprinted in the same author's Edebiyat
Arastirmalari (Istanbul,  1966). 
 
 15. Kimiz is fermented mare's milk. It is a very popular 
traditional drink among Central Asians. 
 
 16. See the description in A. T. Hatto, The Memorial Feast
for  Kokotoy Han (London, 1977). This work is a short cycle
of Manas. 
 
 17. See Arminius Vambery, Chaghataische Sprachstudien
(Pest,  1867), 154. (Reprinted by Philo Press, Amsterdam,
1975). 
 
 18. Tahir bila Zohra, Original Chaghatay text; (German 
translation by G. Raquette) (Lund, 1930). 
 
 19. A collection of "converted" masal may be found in
Amina Shah,  Folk Tales of Central Asia (London, 1975). 
 
 20. Chora Batir appears to be such a dastan, modified in
mid-16th  c. For an overview of this dastan, see H. B.
Paksoy "Chora Batir:  A Tatar Admonition to Future
Generations" Studies in Comparative  Communism Vol. XIX
Nos. 3 and 4, 1986. 
  
 
 
 
 
 
36    H. B. Paksoy 
 
 21. Examples of such successful gestation periods, among
others,  are found in Oghuz Han; N. Ural, Ergenekon
(Ankara, 1972) and Kul  Tegin. 
 
 22. See H. B. Paksoy, "Central Asia's New Dastans," in
Central  Asian Survey (Hereafter CAS), V. 6, N. 1. 
 
 23. Uzbek Sovet Entsiklopediyasi (Tashkent, 1971), 112-4. 
Henceforth: USE. 
 
 24. Bol'shaia Sovetskaia Entsiklopediia, Third Edition
(Moscow,  1978), Vol. 1, 458. Henceforth, BSE. 
 
 25. The passages cited are taken from the Tekin
translation  (cited in Note 1, this Chapter), 263-267, with
corrected  spellings. 
 
 26. Kutadgu Bilig by Balasagunlu Yusuf, completed in 1077,
translated by Dankoff as Wisdom of Royal Glory (Chicago,
1983).  The passages cited are taken from the Dankoff
translation,  including the associated line numbers. 
 
  27. See, for example, Azerbaijan filologiyasy meseleleri,
No. 2  (Baku, 1984) for more than a dozen essays by various
scholars on  these topics, including repeated discussion of
the Orkhon inscriptions, DLT and several analyses of the
dastan Dede Korkut.  A similar pattern is evident across
Central Asia, in virtually  every 'Republic.' 
 
 28. For archival references, see M. Kemal Oke, "Prof.
Arminius  Vambery and Anglo-Ottoman Relations 1889-1907"
Bulletin of the  Turkish Studies Association, Vol. 9, No.
2. 1985. 
 
 29. See his The Beginnings of the Great Game in Asia
1828-1834  (Oxford, 1979); idem, Commitment to Empire:
Prophecies of the  Great Game in Asia 1797-1800 (Oxford,
1981); idem, In Defense of  British India: Great Britain in
the Middle East 1775-1842  (London, 1984). 
 
 30. Published (Paris, 1896). 
 
 31. See Mogollarin Gizli Tarihi (A. Temir, Trans.)
(Ankara,  1948), (P. 227). There is also a more recent
English translation  by F. Cleaves. 
 
 32. See T. Allsen, Mongol Imperialism (Berkeley, 1987); M.
Rossabi, Khubilai Khan (Berkeley, 1988). 
 
 33. Issued by H. M. Government, Naval Staff Intelligence 
Department (Oxford, November 1918). 
 
 34. Published (Leipzig, 1885). 
  
 
 
 
 
 
ALPAMYSH: Central Asian Identity Under Russian Rule      37

 
 35. On this work, and the identification of its author,
see  Togan's comments in Turkistan,  560-563.  

 36. For additional references, see H. B. Paksoy, "Central
Asia's  New Dastans." Also a work under the title Turkismus
und  PanTurkismus by M. Cohen (whose pseudonym was Tekin
Alp; a  colleague of Ziya Gokalp and Omer Seyfettin during
1910s) was  published in Weimar (Verlag Gustav,
Kiepenheurer, 1915). It  appears that British Admiralty had
this work translated into  English, from German, and
classified it "secret." See C. W.  Hostler,  Turkism and
the Soviets (London, 1957).   
 
 37. See for example V. Propp, Morfologiia skazki
(Leningrad,  1928), translated by The American Folklore
Society & Indiana  University Research Center for the
Language Sciences, published  jointly by Indiana University
and The University of Texas Press:  Morphology of the
Folktale (Austin, 1968). 
 
 38. Divaev is the form used in Russian language sources.
Togan, a  fellow Bashkurt, refers to him as Divay. See
Chapter Two for  additional details on Divay. 
 
 39. One such example is Heda Jason, "Oral Literature and
the  Structure of Language," Rand P-3758 1968, submitted to
Current  Anthropology, Chicago; idem, "A Multi-Dimensional
Approach to  Oral Literature: A Proposal," Rand P-3733
1968. (First read to  the American Anthropological
Association, Washington D. C.,  1967). 
 
 40. Traditions of Heroic and Epic Poetry, A. T. Hatto,
Editor.  (London, 1980). 
 
 41. Hatto's  Kokotoy-Khan, cited in Note 16 above. 
 
 42. See the Introduction to the Commentary by Hatto, in
his  Kokotoy, Pp. 90-91.   

 43. Z. V. Togan, "Turk Milli Destaninin Tasnifi," in Atsiz

Mecmua, May, June, July, September 1931, cited in, N.
Atsiz, Turk Tarihinde Meseleler (Istanbul, 1975), 157. 
 
 44. N. Atsiz, ibid. 

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