Edited by  H. B. Paksoy

Table of Contents:

H. B. Paksoy "Ibadinov's Kuyas Ham Alav"
Peter B. Golden (Rutgers) "Codex Comanicus"
Richard Frye (Harvard) "Narshaki's The History of Bukhara"
Robert Dankoff (Chicago) "Adab Literature"
Uli Schamiloglu (Wisconsin-Madison) "Umdet ul Ahbar"
Kevin Krisciunas (Joint Astronomy Centre) "Ulug Beg's Zij"
Audrey Altstadt (UMass-Amherst) "Bakikhanli's Nasihatlar"
Edward J. Lazzerini (New Orleans) "Gaspirali's Tercuman"
David S. Thomas (Rhode Island) "Akcura's Uc Tarz-i Siyaset"

ISBN: 975-428-033-9
Library of Congress Card Catalog: DS329.4 .C46 1992
173 Pp. (paperback)  US$20 

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Please refer to the printed version for footnotes


H. B. Paksoy

The particular conditions of writing history in the Soviet Union
have been partially documented, although far less often in the
case of the Asian territories. Lowell Tillett, Wayne S.
Vucinich and C. E. Black have shown that especially since
World War II, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU),
Soviet Academies of Sciences and their branches have mandated
that the history of the non-Russians and their relations to the
Russian state and to the ethnic Russians themselves is and has
always been positive, "progressive" and beneficial to the non-
Russians. With respect to Central Asia, Soviet officialdom has
been and is eager to legitimize both its conquest and present
position in the region as Central Asians constitute approximately
one-fifth to one-fourth of the Soviet population and occupy a
substantial portion of the Asian land-mass.

The Central Asian authors have responded to the restrictions on
history writing by reporting accurate history and relaying
messages of the past in the guise of literature. The field of
literature has its own strictures. Thus, Central Asians have
tried to ensure that their output is both the real history and
sufficiently veiled (for example, under the "yarn" genre) to pass
censorship. This is an effort to maintain the historical identity
which Central Asians see is under attack by the Russian-dominated
party, state and academic apparatus in the official "histories."
One must observe the recent publishing activity of the Central
Asians, in their dialects, especially since late 1970s. These
efforts represent a renewal of activity since the interruption
caused by the "liquidations" of the 1930s.

The efforts of the past decade constitute a renewal -- rather
than initiation -- of activity because history, politics and
literature have always been inseparable in Central Asia. This has
been true regardless of the era or form of government. The
tradition is continuing as ever, with "fiction" and "novel"
genres now being used not only to bear a contemporary message,
but to relay the lessons of real historical events and written
monuments of Central Asian history to the indigenous populace. To
recognize these messages -- both contemporary and historical --
of these new works of "fiction," serving as platforms for true
history texts for the Central Asians, it is imperative that the
Western reader be equipped with the historical knowledge being
referenced by the Central Asian writer and recognized by his

"SUN IS ALSO FIRE" ("Kuyas ham Alov") is one such work of
supposed fiction that contains accurate historical information,
quotations from key historical monuments of Central Asia, and
which bears several messages relevant to the contemporary
population. "SUN IS ALSO FIRE" is a "short story" by Alisher
Ibadin, printed in the periodical Gªlistan (published in the
Uzbek SSR), in its issue No. 9, 1980. Examination of current
Soviet textbooks suggests that the works implicitly referenced
(identified below) in this "short story" are not generally
available or taught in Soviet schools. In this effort, Ibadin is

presenting himself as a conduit, a bridge to the real past. In
verbalizing the thoughts of the collective ancestry, he is taking
a great personal risk -- perhaps, like the central figure of the
"tale," pouring (symbolic) naphtha on himself. The main theme of
"SUN IS ALSO FIRE" reflects the messages of both the sources and
the historical events to which Ibadin alludes -- a struggle for
independence against an invading alien, preservation of the
culture of one's ancestors and the self sacrifice required for
the task. Along the way, purification, by fire, is woven into the
main flow, an important historical motif. 

One of the most powerful messages of "SUN IS ALSO FIRE" is
represented by the epigram with which Ibadin begins:
     "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?"

These words come from the Orkhon-Yenisei tablets inscribed in the
first third of the 8th century. The tablets are the earliest
known surviving written monuments of the Turks in their own
language. They recount the fall of a great Central Asian Turk
empire in the 7th century and the leaders who rebuilt it. It is
not only the story of national reconstruction after subjugation
(in this case, by the Chinese) and thus a message of confidence,
but contains the sobering lesson that the loss of the earlier
empire was the fault of the Turks themselves because they forsook
the ancestral values. It is from that passage that Ibadin took
this admonition.

The use of the Orkhon inscriptions bears also an indirect message
-- these tablets were inscribed more than 250 years before the
conversion of the Rus and, therefore, some 300 years before an
alphabet was invented for the Russians. In fact, the stelae
predate -- by a wide margin -- the first mention of the Rus in
any written chronicle (i.e. Annales Bertiniani of the 9th c.).
Consequently, the tablets are a not so subtle reminder that the
culture of the Turks is of greater antiquity than that of their
present-day overlords. Since the tablets describe an empire even
earlier than the time of the inscriptions, the reminder is
redoubled -- the Turks' empire preceded the Kievan state as well
as Russian literacy. This may be deemed a backlash against the
contents of the current Soviet textbooks.

Additional historical references emerge in the first few lines of
the narrative itself. The central figure of "SUN IS ALSO FIRE" is
named Alp Tekin. An "alp" is a battle-tested young man, or woman,
with a noble and distinguished character and "Tekin," or "Tigin"
denotes a Turk prince. There are, however, several known
historical Alp Tekins, each with a specific message to the
audience. Bartold mentions four: of Bukhara, the Hajib
(Chamberlain) of Khwarazm Shah, A. D. 1071; of Ghazna, in Samanid
kingdom, d. A. D. 963, who founded a new state on the territories
of Ghazna, having risen from the position of a military
bondsman; the ambassador to Sultan Masud in A. D. 1036; and of
Kara-Khitay in A. D. 1141, who restored the castle in the city of
Bukhara. Certainly, the Alp Tekin who founded the Ghaznavids is
the most likely one Ibadin wishes readers to focus on -- the Alp
Tekin who established an independent state for his followers.

Ibadin continues his historical text: When Alp Tekin is awakened,
he jumps up, prepared for battle and asks whether the enemy, the
Arabs, are attacking. The reference, of course, is to the Arab
conquests of Central Asia in the 8th century. There are several
references (by name) to a "Talas battle." There were several
battles at that location, and the most well known took place in
A. D. 751 between the Arabs and the Chinese. Although the overt
theme here is protection of the homeland from invasion, the
emphasis throughout is not so much on the fear of physical
occupation, but rather its result -- the threat to the native
culture, particularly the religion and language of the ancestors.
Because it is Islam (and Arabic) that these invaders represent,
many a Western reader, imbued with the present thought that
attributes everything in Central Asia to Islam, may see here a
simple anti-Islamic message reflecting official CPSU policy.
Perhaps Ibadin relied on such a presumption also entering the
minds of Soviet authorities. But in view of tsarist and Soviet
Russification policies and their emphasis on the use of the
Russian language, one must also see a broader intent. It is the
imposition of an alien language, whatever it may be, that is the
threat to culture. 

Furthermore, and although the depiction of Arabs as enemies and
Islam as an alien faith may coincide with Russian policies, the
examination of Islam and the degree to which it ought to be part
of the Central Asian identity has deep historical roots. The
Central Asian educated stratum debated this question (yet again)
at the turn of the 20th century, inter alia, on the pages of the
St. Petersburg newspaper Mir Islama. Throughout "SUN IS ALSO
FIRE," the emphasis is not so much "anti-Islamic" as it is "pro"
the ancestral religion and traditions.

As soon as Ibadin delineates his main reference points, he has
Alp Tekin invoke the aid of more well known and historical Turks,
those who gained fame even before the arrival of invading Arab
armies, to solve the problems Alp Tekin is facing. The resulting
effect is that a Turk is looking up to another, a more ancient
Turk, to emulate as a role model. Among these role models, six
are rather significant and recalled by name. Alp Er Tunga is the
first. He is revered even by his medieval "biographers" and his
name repeatedly appears in the Kªltigin stela of the Orkhon
On the same man, Balasagunlu Yusuf, in Kutadgu Bilig comments: 
     "If you observe well you will notice that the Turkish
     princes are the finest in the world. And among these Turkish
     princes the one of outstanding fame and glory was Tonga Alp
     Er. He was the choicest of men, distinguished by great
     wisdom and virtues manifold. What a choice and manly man he
     was, a clever man indeed--he devoured this world entire! The
     Iranians call him Afrasiyab, the same who seized and
     pillaged their realm."
Kashgarli Mahmut, in Diwan Lugat at-Tªrk also cites an elegy for
Alp Er Tonga:
     "Has Alp Er Tonga died? / Does the wicked world remain empty
     of him? / Has time exacted its revenge upon him? / Now the
     heart bursts..."

Kashgarli further identifies him:
     "Tunga (tiger)...King Afrasiyab, Chief of the Tªrks, meaning
     a man, a warrior, (as strong as) a tiger."

For Tonyukuk, another revered historical Tªrk alluded to in the
narration, Ibadin provides a footnote:
     "FN 24. During the I. and II. Tªrk Kaganates, a very high
     ranking political personage."

>From available sources, it is known that Tonyukuk was the chief
advisor to rulers Ilteris and Bilga Kagan, the latter of whom was
apparently responsible for all the Orkhon stelas, including one
erected in Tonyukuk's honor ca. 720 A.D. Tonyukuk himself was
alive in 716, at Bilga Kagan's accession and is believed to have
died a few years later.

A third historical personage to whom Ibadin alludes is Sebªk
Tegin (d. A. D. 997), the protege of Alp Tekin of Ghazna. After
Alp Tekin's death in A. D. 963, as with at least two other
commanders preceeding him, Sebªk Tegin was elected the commander
of the army by its troops in A. D. 977. In 15 years time, he was
the ruler of all Ghaznavid territories. 

The case of the historical Bugra is not difficult either. Han
Suleyman b. Yusuf (Bugra Tekin), lived c. A. D. 1040, at the time
of the Dandenekan battle. The events of this period broadly
involve struggles to control Transoxiana, with the Ghaznavids in
the middle, Seljuks to the West and the Karakhanids to the East.
There are also a number of other Bugra Han [Khan] of the same
period. Moreover, Balasagunlu Yusuf dedicated the Kutadgu Bilig
to Karakhanid Bugra Khan. What is inconsistent with his
demonstrated knowledge of history, is the fact that Ibadin cast
the Bugra of "SUN IS ALSO FIRE" in a rather dim light. One
wonders if he did not have access to credible historical sources
on the Seljuks, Karakhanids or Ghaznavids. Or, perhaps, he had
some other, special purpose in mind, such as warning the members
of his readership about complacency and unacceptable behavior in
the manner of his Bugra Bek. Possibly, Ibadin points to Tabgach
Bugra Khan, to which Kutadgu Bilig was dedicated, to suggest he
did not follow the admonitions in that manual of statecraft, and
thus caused the decline of the Karakhanids.

Ibadin introduces a fifth historical name, Tarhan. Though
"Tarhan" is a title denoting a member of the ruling elite, it has
also been used as a personal name. Bartold chronicles a "Tarkhun"
being active c. A. D. 701-4, "the leader of the native princes,
Tarkhun, the Ikhshid of Sogd." Togan details the use of the
word, based on the writings of seven medieval historians,
indicating "Tarhan" was a title given to some Tªrk rulers.
Togan's description includes a Tarhan of Kashghar c. A. D.
775-785, Arslan Tarhan of Kashan near Fergana A. D. 739, and
several others up to A. D. 893. This cross-referencing of Tarhan
and Arslan somewhat complicates the picture. Bartold lists no
fewer than twelve rulers carrying "Arslan" as part of their
names. The majority of those Arslan lived 11-13th centuries A. D.
(It must be remembered that many individuals in Central Asian
history had their given names before assuming titles associated
with acquired or inherited positions of authority). There is,
however, one "Arslan Khan Ali, who, according to Jamal Karshi (a
period historian), died a martyr's death in January 998: the
nature of his death may be guessed from the epithet Hariq (`the
burned') applied to him."

Ibadin has Alp Tekin make a reference to a sixth historical
personage, Bumin Han, a Turk prince, referenced in Kªl Tigin. He
is one of the ancestors of Kªl Tigin, "... who organized and
ruled the state and institutions of the Turkish people." 

There are also specific references to the land on which the
depicted events are taking place. That aspect, too, is critical
to the understanding of history, the bond between the people and
the homeland and how it relates to the readership. The footnotes
to the translated work provide the details of how those
geographic locations are significant and to which historical
sources they may be traced.

Next, Ibadin brings in concrete references to personal sacrifice
for the homeland, manifesting itself as consumption by fire.
Reverence for fire is most commonly associated with
Zoroastrianism, but exists also in many belief systems. Most
salient for the present case, Central Asian Shamanism is known to
encompass reverence for fire. In his study of Shamanism, the late
Mircea Eliade writes: 
     "The idea that fire ensures a celestial destiny after death
     is also confirmed by the belief that those who are struck by
     lightning fly up to the sky. 'Fire,' of whatever kind,
     transforms man into 'spirit;' this is why shamans are held
     to be 'masters over fire' and become insensitive to the
     touch of hot coals. 'Mastery over fire' or being burned are
     in a manner equivalent to an initiation. A similar idea
     underlies the conception that heroes and who all die a
     violent death mount to the sky; their death is considered an
     initiation. On the contrary, death from disease can only
     lead the deceased to the underworld; for disease is provoked
     by the evil spirits of the dead." 
Such beliefs and practice were still alive in Central Asia during
the early part of the 20th century. The late Z. V. Togan relates
a particular event, when he was involved in the Basmaci Movement
of 1920s. At one point Togan was taken ill seriously. His
companions carried him to a shaman. Togan narrates: 
     "In an úzbek [sic] tent, a large fire was lit. The bakhsi
     (shaman), had a jet-black beard, appearing to be forty
     years of age, with a robust body, but was otherwise a
     seemingly normal person... An iron shovel was placed in the
     fire. He lifted this spade, inserting a wooden handle. The
     wood handle caught fire. He {shaman} filled his mouth with
     water and sprayed the spade. The bouncing droplets of water
     {from this process} were striking my face, burning me...
     Finally, the shaman grasped this spade with his teeth. He
     encircled me several times with it, and threw it back into
     the fire... Despite the fact that he had held the burning
     spade in his mouth, his black mustache was not {even}

Among the Central Asians, the motif of "burning in fire" in the
course of an independence movement is not confined to one
location. For example, in 1927, Jafar Jabarli, an Azarbaijan
author wrote a novel with the title Od Gelini (Bride of Fire).
The main theme of this novel being the heroic battle of the
Azerbaijanis against Arab invaders. It was also translated into
Russian, under the title Nevsta ognia and Ibadin's work
appears to share sentiments with it.
More recently is the case of Musa Mamut, a Crimean Tatar
activist, striving to facilitate the return to the Crimean
homeland of all Crimean Tatars who had been forcibly exiled to
Central Asia by Stalin. After much harassment from the
authorities for his activities, Musa Mamut poured gasoline on
himself and committed self-immolation in 1978, in the village of
Beshterek {in Simferopol' district in Crimea}. He died from the
burns he sustained. The close proximity of this incident to
the time of Ibadin's writing should be noted. 

It is necessary further to point to three groups of issues
pertinent to the readers of "SUN IS ALSO FIRE:" Sources,
Motivation and Intentions. 

Sources -- As noted, Ibadin's sources are clearly discernible. He
has thoroughly studied the primary Monuments of his patrimony:
The Tªrk stelas erected in the 8th century along Orkhon-Yenisey;
the 11th century Compendium of Kasgarli Mahmut; Kutadgu Bilig of
Balasagunlu Yusuf, also of the 11th century A. D. Nor did he
neglect the secondary sources. He is obviously quite comfortable
with Bartold's Turkestan. He is unlikely to have confined himself
to those, however, since there are other references in the work
that reach beyond these volumes. 
Motivation -- "SUN IS ALSO FIRE" has appeared during 1980, less
than a year of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. One cannot
help but wonder if Ibadin is using the Arab example of the 8th
century because -- at that point in time --  he could not refer
to the Russian occupation of Central Asia in the 19th century.
Does he wish his readers to make the substitution? Or perhaps he
is addressing the multinational population of Afghanistan,
bringing the example of Central Asia to their attention, urging
them on to carry on with their independence struggle. It should
be noted that, soon afterwards, Afghan historical literature also
began appearing in the Uzbek press.

The plot of "SUN IS ALSO FIRE" is set partly on soil which is now
Afghanistan, the medieval Ghaznavid territories, and partly in
the Talas region at the opposite (Eastern) end of Central Asia.
The depicted events take place 900 to 1300 years ago. Given the
fact that Ibadin demonstrates his historical knowledge and his
facility with the sources, this ambiguity or blurring in time and
territory seems to have been intentional and perhaps designed to
emphasize the broad applications of the message.

Intentions -- The workings of the censorship mechanism of
Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union are documented.
Occasionally there appear to be some breakdowns in what strives
to be a comprehensive system. One such incident is discernible
immediately after the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. A
sweeping change took place among the editorial personnel of Uzbek
newspapers and journals in September 1980. In this period, under
new editors, Uzbek journals published quite a few intensely
nationalistic "novelettes," and "short stories." In 1982, just as
abruptly, the editorial personnel were once again changed.
Although the exact nature of this period, or the underlying
political implications is not yet fully understood, the effects
were notable. "SUN IS ALSO FIRE" was published {September 1980}
at the very beginning of the first change.
There are other concerns ever-present in the minds of Central
Asian authors. Two are among the most prominent.

1. The Socialist Realism filter -- From the outset (as in this
resolution passed by the CPSU on 18 June 1925), the Soviet regime
established that "...in a classless society there is and can be
no neutral art." Thus, arts and literature are and must be a
means for the dissemination of state and party propaganda. No
writer living in the present Soviet domains is allowed to produce
any work without adhering to the Socialist Realism formulated in
the 1920s-30s and demanded by the state even now. Although the
"intensity" of Socialist Realism may fluctuate with time and
efforts at enforcement, it is essentially ever present.

Because the ideological function of the arts was first
articulated by Lenin and later reiterated by his followers ad
nauseam, no literary work can clear the censorship {at least
theoretically} if it does not conform to the manuals prepared and
distributed for the purpose of ideological screening. Hence, when
an author decides to risk his career, his life and those of his
family members, in order to "speak his mind," he is obliged to do
it in "doublespeak." That fact, too, may have contributed to the
mixing of the two periods noted above. The interrelationship of
historical references displayed in the "fiction" may also
indicate the political tendencies or positions apparently
acceptable to the authorities charged with the censorship task at
the time of writing.

2. Ostensible "Pan Turanism" -- Ibadin continually hammers at the
theme of "unity" among Tªrks, especially in their efforts to
resist foreign invasion. Many Western and Russian authors have
discerned such efforts to be a sign of "Pan Turanism," ostensibly
a movement by Tªrks to establish hegemony over the world, or at
least Eurasia. In fact, this "Pan" movement has no historical
ideological precedent among Tªrks and has been documented to be a
creation of the Westerners. Around the time of the occupation of
Tashkent by Russian troops in 1865, the doctrine called
"Pan-Turanism" or "Pan-Turkism" appeared in a work by Hungarian
Orientalist Arminius Vambery. Vambery, it is now known, was in
the pay of the British Government. 
The doctrine was invented, propagated and attributed to the Tªrks
by the Europeans as part of 19th century balance-of-power
struggles, both in the matter of the weakened Ottoman Empire and
against the Russian expansion in Central Asia. Dubbed the "Great
Game in Asia," by its practitioners, the origins and means of
this contest have been studied by E. Ingram. 
Later, and even today, various Western entities have used this
pseudomovement as a "bogey-man" to reap financial benefits, to
"fortify the West" against "yellow hordes" sweeping out of Asia
and swamping "Christendom." For example, L. Cahun's Introduction
a l'Histoire de l'Asie, Turcs, et Mongols, des Origines a 1405
was written to suggest that a 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 c. 1240 A. D.,
after the death of Chingiz, there is, of course, no reference to
the racial superiority of the Mongols. Instead, it quotes
Chingiz: "Tangri (God) opened the gate and handed us the
reins," indicating that Chingiz regarded only himself ruling
by divine order. The "Great Khan" himself was and remained the
focus of power, as opposed to the clans under his rule. In any
event, the Mongol armies were distinctly multi-racial. 

Another representative sample of this early phase of the
"movement" is A Manual on the Turanians and Pan-Turanianism a
work that was based on Vambery's Tªrkenvolk and that it was
compiled by Sir Denison Ross, as Sir Denison later personally
informed Togan. Even Alexander Kerensky, in Paris exile after
the Bolshevik Revolution, was utilizing the same "Turanian"
rhetoric, calling it "a menace threatening the world." 
Despite its European origins and apart from its European goals,
the idea took root among some Central Asian emigres, 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 Tªrks, even in conflict
with and refuting another Soviet position that the dialects are
separate and distinct "languages." The Soviet state has exerted
much effort to introduce the "idea" of this "scientific finding,"
the existence of separate "Turkic languages" among Central
Asians. It must be noted that in no Tªrk dialect or "language,"
is there any such distinction as "Turkic" and "Turkish." This
distinction exists in some Western languages, as well as Russian,
with the latter referring to the Ottoman or Turkish republican
domains and the former, to other Turks. It is noteworthy that,
before the arrival of the Russians, the Central Asians were able
to communicate among themselves, apparently totally oblivious to
the fact that they were speaking in "totally separate and
distinct languages."

The search for the historical sources and beginnings of their
history is by no means confined to the inhabitants of one Soviet
Republic or efforts of a single author. Though no comprehensive
study of this aspect is made, the manifestations are so numerous
in the Central Asian press that it is difficult to evade or
ignore them. Even the tracing of history back to the Orkhon
monuments, is not isolated any longer; one crosses paths of other
examples: Qulmat úmªraliev in Kazak Edebiyati No. 30 (1982);
Ismail Ismailov, "Eski Yazili Abidelerde Hemcins Uzviler" in
Azarbaijan Filologiyasi Meseleleri Vol. 2. (Baku: Elm, 1984);
Suyerkul Turgunbaev "Bayirki Kªltegin Esteligi: VI - VIII
Kilimdardagi Tªrk Poeziyasinan" Ala Too No. 9, 1988. 

The full-length translation presented below does not strive to
"Westernize" the narration of Ibadin's work. All punctuation is
as in the original, including the ellipses and changes in
scenery. Sentence structure is also preserved to the extent
possible. Ibadin provides 30 footnotes of his own throughout the
text. Most are related to the explanations of words he has used,
which do not appear in present-day dictionaries. Additional notes
contain references that are supplied by the present writer, to
place the work and its implications into perspective.

It must also be reiterated that the mixing of time periods and
historical references arbitrarily, of the 8th and the 11th
centuries A. D., and juxtaposition of real historical personages
with events that may not have taken place appear to be
intentional, so as to give the work an air of "fiction," thus
avoiding Soviet censorship. Thus the "story" can be read as a
"fiction" or a series of tightly packed and "indexed" real
history to the readership. 

     "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?
     As written in the Kªl Tigin Funerary Tablets, VII Century." 

-- "Alp Tekin, on your feet! Do not tarry, Alp Tekin!" 

As he opened his eyes, Alp Tekin swiftly grasped his sword from
underneath the pillow.  
-- "Is it the enemy, the Arabs?" he demanded. 
-- "No, a letter is arriving from the orda... perhaps..." said
the karabash, as he hesitated, embarrassed by the anguish his
excitement caused his Bey. 

Alp Tekin tied a silk scarf around his forehead, tucking his
singly braided hair to his belt, walked outside. 

Sorrowful autumn. Scarlet leaves were spread around, covering the
ground, making it appear as if splashed with blood. At a
distance, some as yet unidentified horsemen were seen approaching
the fortified position.

-- "If from the Orda... who?" thought Alp Tekin. Then, his
handsome face clouded with some disturbing thought, his heart
sank: "Jibilga!" A longing look briefly lingered in the squinting
eyes of the traditional Alpagut. 

"No, -- the yigit sighed deeply, -- what would Jibilga be
doing in Kitkan?" Pacing to-and-fro under the stronghold gate, he
recalled the events that brought him to Kitkan... 

During the spring of 739 A. D., Arslan Tarhan, the Hakan of
Ferghana, attacked with his troops the domains of Talas Hakan
Tugasiyen, destroying the land and scattering the army of the
latter. The fighting between these Tªrk tribes did not produce a
winner. Unfortunately, the severe losses of the Tªrks, as a
result of internecine fighting, were benefiting the Arabs who
were amassing troops at the foothills of Usrushana. Moreover,
the Tªrk State, keeping its existence by the force of sword
against the Chinese troops in Davon was weakened. 

The Arabs, owning half the earth, had occupied the roads leading
to Ferghana and were waiting for an easy opportunity. Three or
four months after the Talas battle, the Khaliph's governor in
Khorasan, Nasr bin Sayyar had entered Sogdia with a large body
of troops. From there, he sent letters to the rulers of Shash
and Ferghana, inviting them to accept Islam and Arab rule.

Upon receiving the letter of Sayyar, threatening them from
head-to-toe, Arslan Tarhan called a Kurultay in his orda
located along Enchi Oghuz.

Arslan Tarhan's younger brother, scholarly Alp Tekin was also
present at the kurultay, who possessed the Sogdian courtly
eloquence, and familiarity with Arabic and Chinese. 

At the time of the Kengesh, the Apatarhan Sebªk Tekinbek
looking at the quietly sitting Beks, mockingly stated: "We know
the Arabs! We must fight!" Then, giving a manly salute to Arslan
Tarhan sitting on his leopard skin covered throne, continued: 

-- "My Hakan! Ugushlarim. We heard that both the Afshin of
Usrushana and the bahadir Tudun of Shash, are accepting the terms
of the Khaliph. We are now alone. That dog Tugasiyen killed
many of our brave young man. We have heavily pained our enemies,
despite the suffering of our yigits, untended horses, and
scarcity of our arrows in the quivers." Casting a glance at Alp
Tekin, he swallowed, and continued: "'If it is not possible to
chew the stone, it is necessary to kiss it,' said the
forefathers. Think about it!"

Sebªk Tekinbek, having amassed untold amount of goods in the
Talas battle, was now weary, longing for the comforts of his
home. Alp Tekin knew his companion quite well. Sebªk
Tekinbek could behave like the father of a nasty boil! Keeping
that in mind, Alp Tekin did not immediately join the discussion,
but patiently listened to the other beys. The aged and not
entirely truthful beys, who have added flocks of sheep to their
possessions after the Talas battle, pessimistically pontificated
at length on the number and power of the Arabs, the weariness of
the Tªrk Bori, the difficulty of success against the
prevailing odds.

Sebªk Tekinbek arose, spoke of the tax exemption privileges
extended to those inhabitants of Bukhara and Samarkand who joined
the community of Muhammad, and the fact that the dehkan were
not at all opposed to the state. 
"Deceitful posture" thought Alp Tekin, driving the topic out of
his mind "the lustre of gold is burning his heart. The Arabs
knowingly say 'the coquetry of gold causes the mejusi to
accept religion, it also grants tongue to the mute.' Perhaps
Aka is more concerned about his throne. He who is concerned
about the throne is not concerned with the affairs of the people.
In order for him to rule, he only needs healthy people. It does
not matter to him if the people are fire-worshippers or
Muslims... Alas, in this kurultay, I fear they sold their own
Tªrk religion and language. I wonder?" 
-- "Sebªk Tekinbek" said he, with fiery eyes. "Is it not true
that the bezirgan regularly visiting Tuput actually stop at
your place!" 
Arslan Tarhan appeared to be pained. The attention of the beys
turned to Alp Tekin. Alp Tekin, though eagerly awaited by the
beys, did not wish to continue with this harsh line. But, since a
light of treachery was thus cast on the indicated actions of
Sebªk Tekinbek, he was compelled to resume: -- "Look at these
swallows...  Beys, perhaps with difficulty, they make their
nests, they rear their young which they brought to life, teach
them to fly; to these birds, without {the power of} reason,
what is the benefit of this hardship?" 
-- "So that the family of swallows does not become annihilated
in this land!" -- responded Alp Er Tunga, while casting a
raised eyebrow at the aged beys. 
-- "Live Long!" -- gratefully acknowledged Alp Tekin -- "Our
ancestors, much like these swallows, have reared us with the same
hopes; what do you think? Did they not devote their generation to
ours, so that our lineage would be perpetuated, the Tªrks would
not become extinct in this realm? Now, would we not be stepping
on the faces of our ancestors, losing them eternally, by
accepting the religion of a newcomer and forgetting our language;
if one of us did this, for fear of losing his fame, another
grief-stricken over lost gold; is that not true, beys? Is there a
more ugly deed in this blessed world? If there is, speak up,
-- "Brothers, to the enemy!" -- Alp Er Tunga shouted with
abandon, jumping to his feet, unsheathed his sword, looking
toward to the West. 
-- "To the enemy, to the enemy!" -- echoed the other beys
However, Arslan Tarhan and Sebªk Tekinbek glanced at each other,
winking meaningfully. 

Afterwards, Arslan Tarhan sent Alp Tekin to the Kitkan
fortified post... 

While Alp Tekin was recalling these events in his mind, he was
keeping an eye on the approaching horsemen: two riders, two pack
camels. He surmised the identity of one of the riders from the
way he was trundling on the saddle: it must be Bugrabek. Alp
Tekin recognized the second rider as it burst through a cloud of
dust. His {Alp Tekin's} face turned red as if reflecting the
flames of a fire: Jibilga!  Mounting his purebred horse, to greet
them, he galloped towards the nearing young riders. In a short
time, the clouds of dust kicked up by both sides merged. 
                         *    *    * 
-- "So, what is the word from the orda?" 
Bugrabek took the opportunity of coupling his mouth to the
drinking vessel, containing crystal clear water of Kitkan,
capable of soothing away exhaustion, began chewing a mouthful of
bread. Jibilga was going in and out along with the servant girls,
rather than sitting at the side of Bugrabek, whose legs were
saddle bruised, whiling away time at the courtyard of the
korugan. This yigit, who had accompanied Jibilga from the orda,
was Sebªk Tekinbek's adopted son, representative of his family.
Bugrabek had a lazy nature, ordering around his father's
countless servants, not leaving the enclosure of the white tent.
He was a man who did not care what happened around him, even if
horses... would be taken away, he could not think of going
after them, but protecting the insects. Alp Tekin would say "if
it is not for the benefit of the insects, what use is the stubble
of the field?" whenever his eye encountered Bugrabek.  
-- "Health in the orda" -- said Bugrabek with a wheeze. 
-- "What answer did they give to Nasr?" 
Bugrabek cleared his throat, scratched his neck. Alp Tekin became
-- "Do you have a tongue?" 
After some more minutes of wheezing, croaking and clearing his
throat, words began to fall out of Bugrabek's mouth like the
crumbs of a torn piece of bread: 
-- "By the grace of God... it was deemed appropriate to send a
white letter in response to Nasr's missive..."  
-- "What are you saying?" -- bellowed Alp Tekin -- "You... Swine!
Are you speaking the truth?" 
He grabbed Bugrabek by the throat and shook him mightily.
Bugrabek collapsed as if he were deflated. Alp Tekin, standing
over the drained face of this adopted bey: 
-- "Speak" he said. 
-- "Beys held a kengesh... later... a messenger was sent to
Nasr... Nasr's regent will be arriving in Ferghana tomorrow...

-- "Satkinlar! Alp Er Tunga, Alp Turan? Did they not
-- "Alp Er Tunga and Alp Turan were beheaded..." 
-- "My God! What fate?" 
In the wrathful eyes of Alp Tekin, Bugrabek appeared as the
personification of scandalously corrupt Arslan Tarhan and Sebªk
Tekinbek. Preparing to separate body from head, he unsheathed his
sword. Bugrabek, with bloodshot eyes betraying fear, placed his
head on Alp Tekin's feet. Just as he aimed his sword at the hairy
neck of the adopted bey, like a predatory bird: 
-- "Alp Tekin, don't!" -- screamed Jibilga, as she ran in... 
-- "Offer a sacrifice to Umay, for the sake of Jibilga" --
groused Alp Tekin, as he sheathed his sword. 
Bugrabek did not brave standing up, he crawled away. 
-- "Alp Tekin..." -- Jibilga's wavering voice and the hesitant
look in her almond-shaped eyes became evident to Alp Tekin. 
-- "Alp Tekin, as you know, reportedly Nasr has amassed plenty of
troops... 'I am going to annihilate the Tªrks,' he is said to
have stated..." 
-- "Jibilga, what are you saying?" 
-- "It is said that Nasr is not going to collect kharaj or
jizye from us, only if we were to accept his religion. Alp
Tekin, I expect this condition will unite the Tªrks!" 
-- "For God's sake go away, go away Jibilga!" 
Alp Tekin was compellingly drawn to the banks of Kitkan river,
began splashing water onto his face. "Ey!" -- he roared, towards
the wide open spaces -- "where are you now, the glorious
batirs of the Tªrks, those of you who at one time held sway
from Chochon to Rum; from Altay to Boipin, where are
                              *   *   * 
Shadows were settling in from the East. The night quietly
embraced the Kitkan korugan with its helmeted guards visible at
the turrets on high walls. When darkness became total, the
scarlet tongues of flames leaping from the oven fireboxes
remained visible. Eternally defiant of night, yet again rearing
their heads, because light is born to the arms of darkness!.. 
-- "If we were to learn Arabic, speaking in this beautiful
language, will would be communicating with half of the world. It
indeed is the language of Bagdad, Damascus, used by the alp poets
of the world!" 
-- "You are forgetting the most powerful poetry in the world,
lullabies recited by our mothers as they stood over our
cradles, Jibilga!.." 
The flames in the hearth were casting a pale light upon Alp Tekin
and Jibilga, lying on the wooden platform, then causing a naked
sword on the floor to glisten before dissipating into the dark
corners of the house. Suddenly Jibilga reached over the bare
sword and touched the wrist of Alp Tekin with her long fingers.
Alp Tekin's flesh tingled, his body stiffened. 
-- "Alp Tekin, do you recall our talks at the apple orchard?" 
-- "Could those times be ever forgotten?" 
... Ah, those sweet memories, recalling the delightful times of
days past! Enjoying the exquisite melodies emanating from the
chankavuy played by Jibilga which would accompany drinking
kimiz, then, knowingly winking at each other, begin courting.

Alp Tekin would silently visit his Toga's apple orchard, sit
and wait for Jibilga in the quiet corner. Their greeting the dawn
together was ostensibly unknown by anybody in Sebªk Tekinbek's
household, accepting the gifts of Tuput origin from Alp Tekin and
turning a blind eye to Jibilga's early morning outings, which
supposedly went totally unnoticed. 
When the moon reached overhead, as Alp Tekin's patience ebbed
from waiting, Jibilga would appear from the direction of the
water canal. 
During those heady days the sounds of the Enchi Oghuz would be
audible at the distance, until dawn... Ah, what would they not
discuss! Their intense discussions would inevitably turn to the
appreciation of the prominent Tªrks of the past, they would end
the night without sleep. "The land of Tªrks were in a single
religion at the time of Bumin Han and contemporaries, now
some worship fire, others became Manichean or Buddhist. What
calamity that it turned out so!" would say Jibilga. "What are you
getting at?" "It is necessary for the Tªrks to belong in one
religion for their future unity." "Did that thought originate
from your father?" "What do you think? He is not called the
Tonyukuk of Arslan Tarhan, by the Beys for nothing." "Which
language of the Tengri are we speaking in Jibilga? Our
ancestors did not leave us the pyramids of the Pharaohs, they
only bequeathed us their language. If we were to forget this
language, would they not be dried like a river absorbed into the
sands? No, it is best to be seeking refuge in fire -- worshipping
the Tengri is the best path. Actually, the mother of this realm
-- is the sun and fire! Worshiping the sun!" "The sun! Ha-ha-ha!"
Jibilga's hearty laughter reverberated in the orchard, causing
{....} to come out in a hurry, her hair reflecting the moon's
glow. "If I were the sun, I would not simply radiate, but I would
have destroyed the enemies of the people and bestow upon them
life sustaining warmth!"  
At times, while Jibilga played the changavuy, the melodies
seemingly melded with the silky light of the moon and draped like
a soft mist over the apple blossoms... 
-- "Alp Tekin, did you fall asleep?" 
Alp Tekin rubbed his eyes like a child about to fall into sweet
-- "Alp Tekin, listen, I have a few words for you." 
Alp Tekin quiveringly shook his head and looked. 
-- "Suppose I accept the new religion... What would happen?" 
-- "I do not have mercy upon those who betray their own

Jibilga suddenly grasped the sword from its blade and placed the
hilt in Alp Tekin's hand: 
-- "In that case, strike!" 
-- "Jibilga!" -- cried out Alp Tekin, jumping to his feet. 
-- "It has been three years since my father recited the
creed, all of us, even Bugrabek..." 
-- "Jibilga!" -- to Jibilga, the frightening scream emanating
from the throat of the yigit resembled the moanings of a men who
has been hit by a dirk in the chest. 
Alp Tekin drew his knife and began slashing his own face...
Jibilga's pearl-like tears were discernible in the reflecting
                                 *  *  * 
-- "Brothers!" -- upon noticing the face of Alp Tekin, the troops
looked at each other as if to ask "Is Arslan Tarhan dead?" --
"Hear me! I rebelled against my own brother! You should know
that he was once a worshipper of fire. Now he has made his
religion, language, subservient to throne. Mind you, this is
religion, language; living in the bosoms, the tongues of each of
us, our homeland! The flowing Enchi Oghuz, plentiful apple
orchards and pastures are our homeland, but when we consider it
closely, there is another, altogether mighty homeland,
inseparable from our selves; that is, our language. Can any man
who ruthlessly discards this precious inheritance, homeland,
still be a lord in his own home? Tell me, people!" 
-- "Certainly not! Certainly not!" roared the troops. 
-- "Correct! Tomorrow the regent of Nasr is arriving in Ferghana.
Are there quarters for him in Ferghana? Tell me Tªrks!" 
-- "There is! But it is in the dark earth!" shouted the troops. 
-- "Good! Starting today, Orda of this homeland is Kitkan! The
Hakan of the people is me; I am Alp Tekinbek! I issue a
mobilization order to all Tªrks. We are going to defend the
korugan with all our might. No mercy to those who sell or buy
this homeland!" 
                               *  *  * 

Although Apatarhan Sebªk Tekinbek's troops were reinforced by the
ghazis arriving from Samarkand, and together they had laid
siege to Kitkan korugan for twenty days, they had been unable to
conquer it. The Apatarhan was most unhappy. He was incessantly
ordering new attacks, but an unknown number, according to some
rumors one thousand, or said some informants, one hundred Tªrk
troops defending the thick walls were keeping at bay a force of
five thousand. Those in the fortification had stockpiled naphtha
from the Chimyan mountain, which they were burning in bowls and
pouring onto those who came close to the walls, thereby keeping
them away. 
The water-wells began to dry-up with the choking of Kitkan
korugan by Sebªk Tekinbek. Food and drink was rationed and the
women and children who came to the korugan from surrounding
kishlaks began suffering. The use of naphta against the
attacks had to be carefully husbanded. The days of Kitkan korugan
appeared numbered when catapults from Usrushana and
reinforcements from Arslan Tarhan's orda arrived to aid the
attackers. All of the possessions of the korugan was defended by
some one hundred troops, who were rendered weak from
malnourishment and lack of water. 
In deep thought, Alp Tekin approached the distant guard room of
the korugan. Humidity greeted him upon opening the small,
squeaking door. As the door opened Jibilga rose, looking at the
entering figure, and faced away. At the corner, with beard and
hair unkept like weeds, Bugrabek was eating noisily with full
cheeks. Noticing Alp Tekin, he pressed his forehead to the ground
and rose. 
For a moment, both the yigit and the girl were silent. Alp Tekin
lowered his head: 
-- "Jibilga," he started, "give up that path! Do not turn your
face away from homeland!" 
-- "I am but a servant of God..." 
-- "Jibilga, but your father accepted that religion to preserve
his own wealth... 
-- "You are speaking in vain! My father wishes to unite his
subjects who are adherents of Zoroastrianism, Manicheanism,
Buddhism in one religion and language! 
Alp Tekin shook his head, Jibilga looked at him a moment and
noticed the bandaging on his arm:
-- "What happened to your arm?" she asked. 
-- "An enemy sword touched it." 
-- "Alp Tekin!" Jibilga suddenly kneeled, put her head on yigit's
foot, began crying. "They will kill you! The entire population is
aware that your brother is afraid of you! If they were to kill
you, your brother will have his day. Could not a knowledgeable
yigit like you perceive that? If you were to go to them, they
would look after you. And then..." 
-- "I would ascend to my brother's throne?" Alp Tekin's voice was
weighty -- "No, I shall not climb to the throne treading on the
faces of my ancestors." 
-- "According to the defenders, korugan has a day remaining, it
is not late. Come, I can teach you the creed..." 
-- "I do not wish to reach Tengri shame-faced, as one who has
sold his religion and language!" 
-- "Ah my undesired path, my heart rends seeing the wound of your
marrow. When you undertake the fight, it is your stubbornness
that gnaws at me and not the rats of this damp dungeon. Still,
you do not speak of the future of our love?" 
-- "My heart is heavy, because you are correct Jibilga! I am
going to the orda of Tengri but is my woman coming as a detached
stranger to that heavenly dwelling? My heart and bosom is torn
saying this. This eternal separation will take place before we
are united in this world, Jibilga." 
Alp Tekin's voice strained, reached down to stroke Jibilga's

-- "Jibilga... Go, my love..." 

-- "Alp Tekin, recite the creed... Recite the creed..." 

Alp Tekin pulled his legs from Jibilga's embrace, left. 
                              *   *   * 
After dark enemy catapults breached the korugan walls in one-two
places. But the enemy could not gain inside access. Alp Tekin's
troops were heaving bowls full of burning naphta to keep them
away. It was clear that the remaining life of the korugan was not
                              *   *   * 
-- "Jibilga, I have half a day left in this life..." 
-- "There still is time to recite the Creed..." 
Alp Tekin sent for the Diviner. 
-- "Diviner, you know my love towards my woman. I do not wish her
to meet the Tengri with a blackened face." 
The Diviner knew of the circumstances. He stated to Alp Tekin: 
-- "Fire is the most fresh, greatest cure for ailing souls, a
sanctifying halo. Those who are bathed in fire will reach the
abode of Tengri purified of the past deeds, possessing cleansed
Alp Tekin was shaken. 
-- "How horrifying your words are Diviner. You..." 
-- "Yes, fire, sacred fire will cleanse your woman from her past
deeds by separating the body from purified soul and send it to
Tengri. The fire, flames..." 

-- "Jibilga!" terrified, dreading, sorrowful voice of Alp Tekin,
as if not his own, reverberated along the inner walls of the
korugan. Jibilga motioned in the negative "No, no." Tears
streaming from his eyes, Alp Tekin took refuge behind the

In the middle of the korugan, preparations began to build a fire.
Dry logs were cut at the height of a human, placed upright in the
middle of the wood pile. 

The sun was setting behind the mountains. 

Jibilga arrived at the pile fearlessly. Then Bugrabek was
brought, by collar and trouser-cuff from the dungeon. He
screamed, grappling at the ankles of the guards, as two-three
guards dragged him towards the pile. 

Bugrabek spotted Alp Tekin, in awe, crawled towards him. 

-- "My Bey, I am no longer a Muslim. I gave up that strange
religion, I gave it up!" Crying, he grasped Alp Tekin's legs. 

-- "Take this away!" Said Alp Tekin, holding himself back. 

Jibilga was placed onto the pile and tied. 

-- "Ey misled woman!" continued Diviner "For the last time I am
asking: leave the strange religion, that exploiting essence
lodged in your heart and mind; expel that God of Ahram from
your tongue..." 

Suddenly a deep silence fell on the korugan. Even the bitterly
neighing horses quieted. 

The setting sun cast an unprecedented scarlet hue on Jibilga,
bathing her in heavenly beams. Standing as if chiseled out of red
stone with ruby eyes, she resembled the standing statue of Umay. 
-- "Alp Tekin" suddenly the statue spoke "Recite the Creed,
become the leader to this homeland..." 

-- "Ey Tengri!" screamed Alp Tekin "Why are you using my
forebears' language, applauding your god in that tongue? Who can
chase two preys at the same time, who was born from two mothers?
Mother tongue, motherland is in this heart; could there be two
hearts? Tell me Jibilga!" 

Naphtha-soaked timbers roared with fire... 

-- "Brothers!" said Alp Tekin, addressing his loyal troops "The
enemy is about to enter the korugan. We are one hundred, they,
ten thousand. These raiders are aiming not at our possessions or
our lives, but Tengri, and the language in our hearts and our
homeland. We are about to engage in one last battle for our
homeland. If we die, we shall do so showing the people that the
homeland is dearer than one's own life! We are the children of
the sun, we shall each die by becoming a sun!" 

Alp Tekin ordered the naphtha to be brought forward. Mounting his
horse, he had himself sturdily tied to the saddle. Unsheathing
his sword: 

-- "Pour naphta on me!" he said. 

Understanding Alp Tekin's intention, the troops froze for a
moment,. Then, one, two, three... five... ten... one hundred of
them joined him. Naphta was poured over one hundred fighters. 

                              *   *   * 

During the last attack of the enemy, the korugan gates were flung
open, and from inside issued... bellowing riders aflame. Ah-hey;
the mounts, the riders themselves and even the drawn swords,
powerfully grasped, were... on fire! The horses were running with
supernatural speed. The enemy was aghast. From the gates of the
korugan, the riders aflame kept issuing until the one hundredth,
all together charging the enemy. The horrified enemy army broke
like a sheep herd facing danger, began deserting piecemeal. 

At that time, Kitkan river burst through its poorly constructed
temporary dam, reuniting with its previous channel, overwhelmed
those ghazis who attempted to seek refuge from the riding flames
in its bed. 

As the tents came into contact with the riding flames, the
headquarters of the enemy caught fire. Camels went mad, foaming
at the mouth, without harnesses, began trampling the besieging
troops who had also gone mad. 
The ten thousand strong army of besieging adventurists began
running away disgracefully. Gallant men who had sacrificed
themselves to the sun so that the homeland could live on, kept
giving chase, burned and rode, burned and rode, burned and

To those familiar with history, the present Soviet
"restructuring" and "openness" are perhaps reminiscent of earlier
"thaws." Furthermore, it is unlikely that filling a few "blank
pages," will suffice to elucidate the missing portions of the
true Central Asian history. But, works such as SUN IS ALSO FIRE -
- if they are allowed to appear -- may be deemed an appropriate
precursor to true historical text writing. 


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