DASTAN genre in Central Asia
                    H. B. Paksoy

       [Published in:
       Modern Encyclopedia of Religions in Russia 
       and Soviet Union [MERRSU] (Academic International
       Press, 1995) Vol. VI.  Pp. 222-231.]  

       Let the scholars hear my wisdom
       Treating my word as a dastan, attain their desires.
                                 Ahmet Yesevi (d. 1167)

       Dastan (jir, ir, chorchok) is ornate oral history,
common among the peoples of Central Asia.  It conveys the
revered and cherished value systems from one generation to
the next over millennia. It is part of the permanent record
of a people or a confederation. It lives on as a unifying
charter in the consciousness of the people whose lives and
exploits gave birth to it. It is the national anthem, birth
certificate and literary heritage of its owners.  It
provides the framework to bond a coherent oymak, the
ancestral unit, a division of a greater confederation. 
Members of the oymak share one language, religion and
history. The name of the oymak serves as the surname of an
individual (seen among those who fled the Bolsheviks in the
1920s and refugees fleeing Afghanistan after the Soviet
invasion of 1979).
       The influence and authority of the dastan --as well as
the reverence in which it is held-- are shown by Yesevi's
quotation above. Even an influential sufi leader such as
Ahmet Yesevi (from the city of Yese in Central Asia) saw the
need to elevate his teachings to the level of a dastan. This
reference by Yesevi points to the established tradition of
keeping alive and disseminating important information
through dastans. The dastan has also been used at various
times to propagate religious ideas or doctrines, although
the genre in its original form is not religious.
       In the Altai region, the tradition of "expression and
celebration of ancestral exploits and identity" first
appears in a series of stelea. Apparently the earlier
Altaians did not have a need to affix a label to the genre.
In early 8th century, the ruler Bilge Kagan in the Kul Tegin
stelas states: "Bu sabimin adguti asid, qatigdi tinla"
("Hear these words of mine well, and listen hard!"). Some
three hundred years later, Kashgarli Mahmut, in his Diwan
Lugat at-Turk (1070s) uses the word saw (sab, sav) to
indicate proverbs, messages and admonitions handed down by
wise men. About a century after Kashgarli Mahmut, Ahmet
Yesevi (d. 1167) wrote: "Let the scholars hear my wisdom/
Treating my word as a dastan, attain their desires." This is
the earliest recorded mention so far found to refer to the
label dastan in Central Asia. 
       The prevailing designations in the Altai, such as jir
(as in batirlik jiri) and chorchok suggest that the genre
may have been called dastan further to the West.  The
contents, format and intent have remained essentially the
same. The dastan, in most cases, is named for the alp (or
batir), the central figure or hero, who may be male or
female, e.g. Oghuz Khan, Manas, Koroglu, Kirk Kiz.  At other
times, the term batir or alp is appended to the name: Kambar
Batir, Chora Batir, Alp Er Tunga, Alpamysh. 
       Over a period of millennia the neighboring Altaic/Turk,
Indian and Persian literary genres in Central Asia came into
contact and may have influenced each other. Since the study
of these genres are by and large in their infancy, it is too
early to venture authoritative opinions on these aspects.
       Dastans commemorate the deeds of fearless and capable
men and women. They rise from among the people when
critically important tasks need to be performed.  Often this
task is to fight for the independence of a polity, or group
of polities which we now refer to as confederation. The
exploits of these battle-tested alps on behalf of their
people are celebrated and immortalized by reciters known as
the ozan (some of whom composed dastans). Almost always the
ozan (sometimes known as bahshi, kam or shaman) will
accompany himself with a musical instrument known as kopuz.
       During the 19th century, the Western scholarly world
initially came into contact with the Altaic Ornate Oral
History tradition, though without full knowledge of its
actual origins. It was in the Westernmost edges of the Asian
continent that these works were encountered in manuscript
form by the Western observers, and carried into Europe. The
first work to receive such recognition was Dede Korkut. It
caught the attention of H. F. Von Diez, who published a
partial German translation in 1815. It was based on the
manuscript found in the Royal Library of Dresden. The only
other manuscript of Dede Korkut was discovered during 1950
by Ettore Rossi in the Vatican library. Until Dede Korkut
was put on paper, the date of which is not known, it
survived in the oral tradition at least from the 9th and
10th centuries. Moreover, the "Bamsi Beyrek" chapter of Dede
Korkut preserves another immensely popular Altaic work,
Alpamysh, dating from even an earlier time. Between 1916 and
1988, Dede Korkut was issued in at least sixteen major
editions. Alpamysh was printed no less than 55 times between
1899 and 1984.
       Koroglu was "discovered" next. During 1842, Alexander
Borejko Chodzko in London published Specimens of the Popular
Poetry of Persia as Found in "Kurroglu." He did not realize
the true origin of the work. Chodzko took some liberties
with his translation, and since he did not have prior
studies to guide him, could not place the work in
       The next person to devote energies to the field was a
German, Friedrich Wilhelm Radloff. After earning his
doctorate at Jena in 1858, he moved to the Russian empire.
Between 1859 and 1871, Radloff spent a great deal of time in
the Altai region, especially in and around Barnaul. One of
the results of this activity was his Proben. The full title,
in both Russian and German, fills an entire page. Eighteen
volumes appeared between 1866 and 1907. Ten of them contain
the original Turkic texts as collected and presented by
Radloff. The remainder are partial translations into German
or Russian. In due course, Radloff committed some scholarly
sins: he failed to include full texts, only fragments; he
omitted the location where he collected the materials and
names of reciters; he used contrived alphabets in recording
the works which obscure pronunciations and render tracing a
word arduous. Moreover, he utilized the term "South
Siberian" when referring to the collective works, even
though he was in the Altai proper.
       Considered scholarship on the genre in English
continued in 1977 with the publication of The Memorial Feast
for Kokotoy Khan, by Arthur T. Hatto; Maadi Kara by Ugo
Marazzi in 1986; and Alpamysh during 1989. An introductory
study on Chora Batir was published in 1986. Almost all of
those works were first transcribed and in some cases
published by individuals of Altaian origin. One of the
earliest Altaians to spend energies in saving these gems was
Chokan Velikhan[ov] (1835-1865). The Memorial Feast for
Kokotoy Khan was in fact translated from a manuscript of
Velikhan. Another influential scholar was a baptized
Altaian, Katanov (1862-1922), who taught at the Kazan
University from 1893.  A third important figure in the field
is Abubekir Ahmedjan Divay[ev] (1855-1933), whose final
posts included the Professorship of Ethnography in Tashkent
at the time of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution. 
       The theory that all major Altaian works of this type,
under the designation of 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.
       The foregoing represents only a small fraction of the
Altaic and Central Asian Ornate Oral History tradition. As
far as can be determined, there are at least fifty
mainstream works of this type, exclusive of their variants.
Some have been issued in other languages, such as Oghuz Han,
edited by Z. V. Togan; Koblandi Batir; Kambar Batir and
Manas which are not yet available in English. They range
from eight thousand to sixty thousand words each, with the
full text of Manas going over half a million lines. It is of
note that the Altaians in the 20th century have also been
engaged in collection and publication of their heritage. The
problem of access to the field notes, and in some cases the
printed works, remain.  
       What lies at the heart of the genre? Broadly
formulated: The jir, chorchok, or dastan typically depicts
the travails of the alp to secure the freedom of his people
from invaders or enemies. The alp's trials and tribulations
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. There are attempts by
the foes and traitors to extort favors from the lovers. In
the end, rescue is effected after much searching, fighting
and sacrifice. 
       In spite of the suffering of the alp and the might of
the enemy, in the end the people are freed.  The alp's
exemplary character, bravery, strength, and superhuman
determination are responsible, not magic or divine
intervention (when such features are present, the variation
displays "degeneration"). Freedom is invariably celebrated
with a lavish toy (feast) and festivities. The traitors,
frequently from the same tribe as the alp, collaborate with
the enemy or abuse the trust of their people and their
leaders. They are now and then executed for their sins, but
customarily forgiven and allowed to roam the earth in search
of reconciliation between themselves and their creator.
       In all cases, the jir or chorchok was composed by an
ozan. and 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 by an
outsider.  Generally, the contents of ornate oral histories
are jealously guarded against any major textual changes. 
For a given version, not even the minor details are
permitted to be dropped or changed by the ozan.  It is
conceivable that the audience may participate in the
creation of the new ornate oral history, 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.
       Reference to similar past experiences is standard and
reinforces the very important link to earlier works of the
kind. Motifs or whole episodes from earlier jir may be
repeated in new jirs or chorchok.  In the event that the
heirs of a jir or chorchok face new threats to their
freedom, the importance of the particular work is
reinforced. Should the enemy somehow prevail over the oymak,
the jir, 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 work
has far-reaching implications. 
       Nor can the contents be dismissed as "folklore." In the
case of Koroglu, as well as Chora Batir, there are
sufficient internal references to reveal the identity of
true historical characters. Both alps have left behind
legacies traceable in chancery papers of several states. In
other words, we have access to historical documents which
allow us to determine the alps that were the models of those
jirs. Consequently, the ornate oral history designation for
this genre seems more than appropriate.
       Since the alp's activities are beyond the reach of
ordinary people, his attributes be compared to natural
phenomena. Thus the alp can run as swiftly as lightning; his
hair glows as bright as the sun; his body 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 during the 8th century A. D.  Moreover,
the use of the term bahshi (also ozan) designating the
reciter of the jir also has shamanistic connotations.  Later
religious motifs, beliefs and practices are juxtaposed as
additional layers, and can be easily identified.
       The idea of marking important events with versified
narrations or songs is not new. Each significant event in
the lives of Central Asians had its own type of "marker"
song. The suyunju (bearer of good news) celebrated good
news, including the birth of the alp, especially after a
tribe or individual had experienced difficulties. The
yar-yar ("Dear, my dear" or, "Darling, my darling") was sung
at weddings. More than merely celebrating the union of the
bride and groom, it also signalled the beginning of other
courtships at the wedding feast. The koshtau (entering into
the fray) was sung on the departure of the alp for a
campaign.  The estirtu (literally, "the wind has blown") was
sung when an alp's death was announced. The yogtau (yugtau:
the "absence") was sung at yog (yug) ashi,  the memorial
feast after burial to lament the death of the alp. Combined
and arranged sequentially, these components constitute the
literary structure of the jir (chorchok).
       During extended periods of relative stability, some of
the ornate oral histories 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.  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
       Because the dastans reflect a close relationship
between a people and their literature, various propagandists
have sought to utilize the dastans as platforms to carry new
messages.  Various Islamic propagators attempted to inject
their religious philosophy into a number of dastans in the
hope of making the newcomer religion to Central Asia more
palatable.  For example, "invisible saints" were added to
help the alp to overcome especially difficult problems.
Although not all the attempted additions to the dastans were
received favorably, these efforts helped popularize new
genres, such as the menkibe. This is a genre devoted to the
exploits of the Islamic warriors, and is often couched in
supernatural tones. Thematically and structurally, the
menkibe is found primarily in the Middle East, in Arabic,
Persian or other local languages.
       After the Russian invasion and occupation of Central
Asia, the local populace vehemently opposed the new alien
invader and began collecting and publishing the dastans. In
doing so, a few embedded new layers of religious references.
Others, believing that the dastans ought to be preserved in
their original format and intent, worked in the other
direction and weeded out religious references before
publishing them.  
       The dastans were used in their customary way against
Russian power during the 1916-1930 Turkistan Liberation
Movement, called by the Russians the Basmachi Movement (SEE
THE ENTRY BASMACHI, Volume 4).  One of the principal leaders
of The Turkistan National Liberation Movement, Z. V. Togan
       .... after the proliferation of cotton planting in
       Ferghana [imposed by the tsarist state at the expense
       of cereal cultivation] the economic conditions
       deteriorated further. This increased brigandage. Among
       earlier Basmachi, as was the case [in the 16th century]
       earlier, the spiritual leader of the Ozbek and Turkmen
       bands was Koroglu. Basmachi of Bukhara, Samarkand,
       Jizzakh and Turkmen gathered at nights to read Koroglu
       and other dastans [ornate oral histories]. What has the
       external appearance of brigandage is actuality a
       reflection and representation of the thoughts and
       spirit of a wide segment of the populace. Akchuraoglu
       Yusuf Bey reminds us that during the independence
       movements of the Serbians, the "hoduk;" the "kleft;"
       and "palikarya" of the Greeks comprised half
       nationalist revolutionaries and half brigands.

       The majority and the most influential of the Basmachi
       groups founded after 1918 did not at all follow the
       Koroglu tradition, but were composed of serious village
       leadership and sometimes the educated. Despite that,
       all were labelled Basmachi. Consequently, in Turkistan,
       these groups were regarded as partisans; more
       especially representing the guerilla groups fighting
       against the colonial power. Nowadays, in the Ozbek and
       Kazakh press, one reads about Chinese, Algerian and
       Indian Basmachi [the references are to the respective
       anti-colonial movements]."
       The struggle did not end with the Soviet take-over. 
Central Asians strove to preserve, and Bolsheviks to
destroy, the dastans.  The Russian Bolshevik apparatus tried
to graft its own message onto the dastans.  A few individual
Central Asian ozans were persuaded to compose new "dastans"
to extol the virtues of some Lenin kolkhoz, or the glories
of a Soviet tractor.  In 1925, the Communist Party of the
Soviet Union resolved: "...As the class war in general has
not ended, neither has it ended on the literary front. In a
class society there is not, nor can there be neutral
art...."  In that decade and the next, dastans were
collected by the authorities in order to be hidden away;
reciters were killed.  At the same time, Central Asian
intellectuals began cleansing added elements and publishing
the dastans in forms as close as possible to their
originals. Many paid with their lives. The message of that
era was, once again, freedom.
       The "Trial of Alpamysh" by the Soviet authorities
reflects the continuation of this policy despite the Soviet
"thaw" of the 1950s. It is discussed in Alpamysh (1989; see
Sources), quoting the stenographic record:
       Perhaps the most decisive event was the decision of the
       20th Party Congress (1956), "in the name of Soviet
       science and especially Soviet folklore studies," to
       convene an investigative conference on the Alpamysh
       dastan "in order to bring to a close these dogmatisms,
       commentaries and theoretical problems and once and for
       all to investigate these matters in detail and come to
       a decision." Thus a regional conference was held from
       20-25 September 1956 in Tashkent, co-sponsored by the
       Gorkii Institute and the (Tashkent) Pushkin Institute,
       the purpose of which was "reconciling the studies [of
       Alpamysh] with party directives." 

       The conflict between the Soviet state and those Central
Asians who managed to "rescue" native culture during the
most repressive eras is reflected in later encyclopedia
entries.  The Dastan entry in the Ozbek Soviet Encyclopedia
describes the form and antiquity of the genre. It refers to
Alpamysh; Kutadgu Bilig, and other works which extol the
virtues of native Central Asian populations, as opposed to
advocating adherence to a religion.  By contrast, the brief
entry in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia (Moscow), refers only
to "Persian epic genre; among which the Book of Dede Korkut
is an example." It states that "Firdousi's Shahnama is one
such work." Firdousi produced his famed Shahnama from the
fragments of earlier pre-Islamic Persian oral works. He did
this for political purposes, and his effort is credited with
resuscitating Persian cultural values against the Islamic
and Arabic culture.  Most of the surviving Persian dastans
are perhaps spinoffs from the immense Shahnama.
       The dastans were considered by the Soviet authorities
to be fostering independence currents in contrast to the
"Soviet Person" policy.  Many years after Stalin and his
methods were repudiated, neither Alpamysh nor Dede Korkut
was widely available in print in the Soviet Union. In 1988,
Professor Zemfira Verdiyeva in Baku stated: "...Beowulf is
always waiting for its purchasers in the shops of England.
And in which shops have we seen our own Dede Korkut?" It is
known that even the manuscript of the Koroglu was concealed
not only from the population at large, but from specialized
researchers. The case of Chora Batir is similar. Alpamysh
was not immune to a similar treatment during 1986. Available
versions had often been manipulated or, in the words of one
Soviet translator of dastans, "refined," in order to weaken
the heroic impact. 
       The Central Asian authors quoted or emulated these
dastans outright, while writing their "historical fiction"
of the 1970s and 1980s. Those novels, containing
historically correct footnotes, were not published to
demonstrate submission. The use of these dastans as source
material further discloses the familiarity of the novelists
and their readers' with the liberation aspects of these
dastans. The Communist Party also knew this and attacked
these works and their authors.  
       Nonetheless, dastans proliferated in new media as well:
cassettes for tape-recorders appeared at the same time as
the "historical fiction." These developments point, yet
again, to the power and glory of the tradition of a literary
genre and the very close relationship a people has with its
heritage. The following poem, published in Muhbir (Journal
of the Central Committee of the Ozbek Writers Union,
Tashkent) during 1982 perhaps attests to the vitality of
       Give me a chance, my rebellious dreams
       My father erected his statue in my memory
       May years and winds be rendered powerless
       May his legacy not be erased from my conscience

       Give me a chance, my rebellious dreams
       Grant my father a sacred dastan
       May years and winds be rendered powerless
       May his memory never be allowed to fade.



       Ahmet Yesevi's Hikmet has been published many times,
inter alia, in St. Petersburg and Istanbul. It has been
immensely influential in Asia and the Middle East, even in
manuscript form, since its composition in the 12th century.
For this entry, the following source is used: K. Eraslan,
Hikmet (Ankara, 1983).
For a consideration of the translated versions of Dede
Korkut, see H. B. Paksoy, "Introduction to Dede Korkut" (As
Co-Editor) Soviet Anthropology and Archeology  Vol. 29, No.
1. Summer 1990. Cf. H. B. Paksoy, Editor, Central Asia
Reader (Armonk, New York: M. E. Sharpe, 1994).
       Although difficult to classify as a dastan as suggested
by the Ozbek Soviet Encyclopedia, Kashgarli Mahmut's 11th
century work Diwan Lugat at-Turk is available as A
Compendium of Turkic Dialects through the translation of
Robert Dankoff with J. Kelly (Cambridge, MA, 1982-1985). A
similar argument may be made for Kutadgu Bilig (written in
c. 1077) by Balasagunlu Yusuf. It was rendered into English
by Robert Dankoff as Wisdom of Royal Glory (Chicago, 1983).
The Kultigin funerary tablets were erected in early 8th
century. Their original texts and English translations are
found in T. Tekin, A Grammar of Orkhon Turkic (Bloomington,
1968) Indiana University Uralic and Altaic Series, Vol. 69.
       The Oghuz Khan, perhaps the oldest mother dastan of
Central Asia, is not yet available in English. The most
authoritative version is Z. V. Togan, Oguz Destani:
Resideddin Oguznamesi, Tercume ve Tahlili (Istanbul, 1972),
a composite volume of Oguz Destani, which did not come down
to us in its entirety, but in fragments, and not in the
original Turkish, but in translated excerpts found in
historical works of the medieval period. Another early
mother dastan, probably a component of Oghuz Khan is
Ergenekon, a new edition of which was prepared by N. Ural
(Ankara, 1972). The 16th century Secere-i Terakime also went
through a series of translations. For details, see H. B.
Paksoy, "Introduction to Dede Korkut" reference above. 
       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.
       Kimiz is fermented mare's milk. It is a very popular
traditional drink among Central Asians. See The Book of Dede
Korkut Geoffrey L. Lewis, Tr.; and Kashgarli Mahmut, Kitab
Diwan Lugat at Turk.
       The reciter, ozan, accompanied himself with a musical
instrument 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, Oxford. 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. The reciter of dastans at various locations and time
periods, had other duties as well. See Fuat Koprulu, "Ozan,"
in Azerbaycan Yurt Bilgisi No. 3. 1932. 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. 
       W. Radloff, in his Proben der Volksliterature der
turkischen Stamme Sud-Sibiriens St. Petersburg, 1866-1907)
18 Vols. provided, although most of them fragmentary, quite
a few variants and examples of dastans. Ten volumes contain
the texts in the original dialects, and eight their German
or Russian translations. However, the collection must be
used with due caution. A condensed version is available: V.
V. Radloff, South Siberian Oral Literature Denis Sinor,
Editor (Bloomington and The Hague, 1967). Indiana University
Uralic and Altaic Series, Vol. 79. Radloff also compiled a
dictionary along the same lines: Varsuch eines worterbuches
der Turk-dialecte, re-issued with the introduction of
Omeljan Pritsak ('s-Gravenhage: Mouton, 1960). 4 Vols.
       A number of dastans are available in English: The Book
of Dede Korkut: A Turkish Epic. Faruk Sumer, Ahmet E. Uysal
and Warren S. Walker, Eds. (Austin, TX: University of Texas
Press, 1991). Second Edition; The Book of Dede Korkut.
Geoffrey L. Lewis, Tr. (London, 1974); A. T. Hatto, Tr. The
Memorial Feast for Kokotoy Khan (Kokotoydun Asi: A Kirghiz
Epic Poem). (Oxford, 1977). London Oriental Series, Volume
33; H. B. Paksoy, ALPAMYSH: Central Asian Identity under
Russian Rule. (Hartford, CT: Association for the Advancement
of Central Asian Research, 1989); H. B. Paksoy, "Chora
Batir: A Tatar Admonition to Future Generations" Studies in
Comparative Communism, Vol. XIX, Nos. 3&4 Autumn/Winter 1986
contains a bibliography of printed versions of Chora Batir
and an English language synopsis. Maday Qara: An Altay Epic
Poem. Translation from the Altay, Introduction and Notes.
Tr. Ugo Marazzi (Naples: Istituto Universitario Orientale
Dipartimento di Studi Asiatici, 1986) is a unique work,
providing insights into a sub-branch of the genre, primarily
from the pre-Islamic period religious beliefs in Central
Asia. An English translation of Koroglu was undertaken as a
doctoral dissertation at the University of Chicago, under
the direction of R. Dankoff. For versions of the original
versions accessible in the US, see "Introduction," H. B.
Paksoy, Editor, Central Asian Monuments (Istanbul: Isis
Press, 1992).
       Zeki Velidi Togan (1890-1970) was for over half a
century a professor of history, and shared similar
objectives with his contemporary colleagues Czech Thomas
Masaryk (1850-1937) and Ukrainian Michael Hrushevsky (1866-
1934). A Central Asian himself and a principal leader of the
1916 Turkistan National Liberation Movement. His volume
Turkili Turkistan. (Istanbul, 1981) 3rd. Ed. sheds light on
the conditions of Central Asian dastans as well. See also H.
B. Paksoy, "Z. V. Togan: the origins of the Kazaks and the
Ozbeks" Central Asian Survey (London) Vol. 11, No. 3, 1992.
       Political borders and boundaries have not applied to
the Central Asians until such artificial limitations were
forcibly imposed upon them quite recently. In order to
examine the conditions and social structures in Turkistan,
alluding to the circumstances in which dastans flourished,
and their effects, the following works may be of use: A.
Bennigsen, "The Crisis of the Turkic National Epics, 1951-
1952: Local Nationalism or Internationalism?" Canadian
Slavonic Papers Vol. XVII, No. 2&3, 1975; Tura Mirzaev,
Alpomish Dostonining Ozbek Variantlari (Tashkent, 1968); H.
B. Paksoy, "Central Asia's New Dastans" Central Asian Survey
(Oxford) Vol. 6, No. 1, 1987; idem, "Perspectives on the
Unrest in the Altai Region of the USSR"  Report on the USSR
(Electronic version, on Sovset), September 1990; idem, 
"Alpamysh zhene Bamsi Beyrek: Eki At, Bir Dastan" ["Alpamysh
and Bamsi Beyrek: Two Names, One Dastan"]  Kazak Edebiyati
(Alma-Ata), No. 41, 10 October 1986. (Rendered into Kazak by
Fadli Aliev from H. B. Paksoy, "Alpamis ve Bamsi Beyrek: Iki
Ad, Bir Destan" Turk Dili, No. 403, 1985); O. Caroe Soviet
Empire, the Turks of Central Asia and Stalinism (London,
1953); H‚lSne Carr‚re d'Encaussee Decline of an Empire: The
Soviet Socialist Republics in Revolt (NY, 1979); Rene
Grousset, The Empire of the Steppes (Tr. N. Walford) (New
Brunswick, NJ, 1970); I. Kafesoglu, Turk Milli Kulturu
(Istanbul, 1984) (3rd. Ed.); A. Inan, Makaleler ve
Incelemeler (Ankara, 1968); J. R. V. Prescott, Map of
Mainland Asia by Treaty (Melbourne University Press, 1975);
F. Sumer, "Oguzlara Ait Destani Mahiyette Eserler,"  Ankara
Universitesi DTC Fakultesi Dergisi, 1959; Stefan Wurm,
Turkic Peoples of the USSR: Their Historical Background,
their Language, and the Development of Soviet Linguistic
Policy (Oxford, 1954); idem, The Turkic Languages of Central
Asia: Problems of Planned Culture Contact (Oxford, 1954);
[Akademiia Nauk Kazakhskoi SSR, Institut Istorii,
Arkheologii i Etnografii Imina Ch. Ch. Valikhanova] Chokhan
Chinghizovich Valikhanov, Sobranie sochnenii v piiati tomah.
(Alma-Ata, 1984-1985). 5 Vols.   For a discussion of
Soviet historiography, the following works are very useful:
R. V. Daniels, Editor, A Documentary History of Communism
(Hanover and London: University Press of New England, 1984),
citing Resolution of the Central Committee of the Russian
Communist Party, "On the Policy of the Party in the Field of
Literature," July 1, 1925; Edward J. Brown, Tr., The
Proletarian Episode in Russian Literature, 1928-1932 (New
York: Columbia University Press, 1952); Lowell Tillett, The
Great Friendship: Soviet Historians on the Non-Russian
Nationalities. (Chapel Hill, 1969); C. E. Black, Editor,
Rewriting Russian History. (New York, 1956); M. Dewhirst and
R. Farrell, The Soviet Censorship. (Metuchen-NJ, 1973).
       Some preliminary information about the Central Asian
dastan genre has been slowly emerging out of an amalgam of
works. G. M. H. Schoolbraid, The Oral Epic of Siberia and
Central Asia (Indiana, 1975); provides a brief summation of
sources. N. K. Chadwick and V. Zhirmunsky's Oral Epics of
Central Asia (Cambridge, 1969) is a rehash of earlier
studies. It abstracts Chadwick's Growth of Literature
(Cambridge, 1940) and, under Zhirmunsky's name, provides
both a repetition of a work in which Zhirmunsky
participated, but largely written by Ozbek writer Hadi
Zarifov. The 1960 work under Zhirmunsky's name, Skazanie ob
Alpamyshe i bogatyrskaia skaza (Moscow, 1960) is mainly a
reissue of Hadi Zarifov's contribution to Zhirmunsky and
Zarifov, Uzbekskii narodnyi geroicheskii epos (Tashkent,
1947), minus Zarifov's name.
       For Shahnama, see Theodor Noldeke, Translator (Bombay,
1930); see also W. L. Hanaway, "Epic Poetry" Ehsan
Yarshater, Editor, Persian Literature (Ithaca: Bibliotheca
Persica, 1988).
       For the Soviet period treatment of dastans,
particularly of Alpamysh, it is instructive to read the
discussions appeared in: Shark Yilduzi (Tashkent) Vols. 5,
1952 and 1957; Pravda Vostoka (Tashkent), January, February
and April 1952 issues; Literaturnaia Gazeta February and
September 1952; Zvezda Vostoka (Tashkent) 1952; (Roundtable)
"Bizim Sorgu: Tarihimiz, abidelerimiz, dersliklerimiz."
Azerbaijan (Baku) No. 6, 1988; Aziz Serif, "Azerbaijan
Musikisinin Atasi," Azerbaijan (Baku) No. 12, 1981. Most of
the applicable extracts are available in H. B. Paksoy,
Alpamysh, cited above.
       The discussion pertaining to the dating of dastan
Alpamysh boiled over during the "Trial of Alpamysh" of 1952-
1956, when all dastans of Central Asia were officially
condemned by the Soviet state apparatus. According to
Borovkov, Hadi Zarif and Zhirmunskii, as well as earlier
writings of Bartold, the dastan Alpamysh may have "existed
probably in the foot-hills of the Altai as early as the
sixth-eighth centuries at the time of the Turk Kaghanate." 
       The Ozbek Sovet Entsiklopediiasi (Tashkent, 1971) and
the Bol'shaia Sovetskaia Entsiklopediia (Moscow, 1978) 3rd
ed., reflect the attitudes toward the dastan genre in the
Soviet Union; from the owners' and outsiders' perspectives,

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