ON KARAKALPAK SOIL


Makhtumkuli's works are full of wisdom. It would be difficult to overestimate their artistic worth. As literary master, Makhtumkuli is more widely known among the Karakalpaks than any other Eastern poet. It is the custom of our storytellers to make use of his poetry to gain the audience's attention before they begin the recital of an epic (1)."
    The speaker was Abbaz Dabylov. People's Poet of the Kara-Kalpak ASSR and the Uzbek SSR. As if wanting to bear out what he had said, he opened one of several trunks lying nearby, took out a manuscript and declaimed in half singing tones:

        "Rememer, obedient to common sense:
        Do not leave but love your native laud.
        Let the cowardly call to arms,
        Avoid shameful deeds.

    This was from Makhtuinkuli's Divan (collection of poems). The elderly poet read out several stanzas in a spirit of singular inspiration., after which he resumed our conversation.
    "This manuscript has been my companion for a long time. It contains about 2,5()O of the poet's lines. I wrote them down from the lips of ordinary folk: Makhtumkuli is as well known to the Karakalpaks as their own national poet."
    My subsequent encounters with Karakalpak scholars, writers, poets and collective farm workers confirmed what Abbaz Dabylov had told inc about Makhtumkuli. The works of the great Turkmen poet are widely known among the Karakalpak people and constitute an integral part of their spiritual riches. Many of Makhtumku Ii's verses have become Karakalpak folk songs. Such works as "Do not depart", "I am in love "Hers" - and others - are well established in the repertory of folk singers. Certain stanzas and lines from Makhtumkuli's poems are in common use among the Karakalpaks as proverbs and sayings.
    This legacy has been gathered together by Kara-Kalpakia's Integrated Research Institute. Babash Ismailov, a staff member of the institute is doing research into Makhtumkuli's influence on national poets. The works of Turkmen poets are studied in the autonomous republic's schools.
    It is difficult to fix precisely the time when knowledge of Makhtumkuli's works began to spread among the Karakalpak. It may be conjectured that it falls within the period of the poet's studies in Khiva. In any ease. Makhtumkuli was already well known among the Karakalpak in the first half of the 19th century; this is borne out by the works of a number of national poets of that time.
    As the distinguished 19th century Karakalpak poet Kunkhoja Ibrayym-ogly (1799-1880) mentions Makhtumkuli in a number of his works ("Together with the people"). "In vexation", "Who knows", "It will not appear", "Do not hurt an orphan's feelings").
    The pride of Karakalpak classical poetry, Berdak Kargabay-ogly (1827-1900), had a high opinion of Makhtumkuli's works, acquired a profound knowledge of his legacy and developed his best traditions. In his poem "Akybet", Berdak speaks of Makhtumku li's poverty and says that the poet personally experienced all the hardships of the age. He compares his own bitter lot with Makhtumkuli's fate.
 In his poem "I sought", Berdak expressed with particular clarity his love of the great Turkmen poet's works:

        "Your verses Makhtumkuli,
        Helped me compose my songs.
        In your poetry Ifound
        All the treasures of the Earth."

    Another well-known 19th century poet, Otesh Alshynbay-ogly  (1828-1902), was also quite familiar with Makhtumkuli's works. In his piece "A response to Berdak", showing the strength of the creative influence of Makhtumkuli's works - he wrote: "When Makhtumkuli read out his poems, even the dead came to life".
    For the classical poets of Kafakalpakia, Makhtumkuli's works constituted a great school of poetry. They absorbed Makhtumkuli's folk traditions and developed them in a distinctive way. The strong influence of Firagi on the Karakalpak poets is also shown by the closeness of the motifs, subjects and forms of the works of Hajiniyaz, Berdak, Kunkhoja and others to Makhtumkuli's poetry.
    The poems of Hajiniyaz Koshubay-ogly (1824-1878), "If he leaves". "Everyone", "The expert Horseman" "It is necessary" and "If there will not be" were written under Makhtumkuli's influence as regards their ideas and their artistic forms. Hajiniyaz played a decisive part in spreading knowledge of the Turkmen poet's works among the Karakalpak people. He translated his poems into the Karakalpak language and declaimed them in public. So Makhtumkuli's works were especially widely known in the places where Hajiniyaz lived - Muynak and Kungrad.
    The beneficial influence of Nlakhtumkuli's works is particularly evident in the writings of the founder of Karakalpak Soviet poetry. Ayapbergen Musayev (1880-1936) and people's poet Abbaz Dabylov. When writing his poem "for the poor", Ayapbergen Musayev undoubtedly made creative use of the artistic methods employed by Makhtumkuli in his work "It began".
    Reading Abbaz Dabylov's poem "He will not find out" from the epic "Bahadyr" beginning:

        "The lover who has not seen sorrows
        Knows not the value of charms.
        The nightingale who had not been through the winter
        Will not find Out the joys of spring "

one is reminded of Makhtumkuli's poem "How he knows".
    The immortal works of the great Turkmen poet and thinker live on among the fraternal Karakalpak people. And this fully bears out the truth of the wise words of Makhtumkuli, who said;

        "My name is on the people 'S hps
        And it will become an adornment of diverse languages."

Translated by Roy Neal
K Seyilmuradov, 'Turkmenskaya hskra, 27 February 1959, No 49
Firagii: pseudonym used by Makhtumuli