Sunday, January 22, 2012

Winter's Day

I have been sooooo busy for the past week or so, I've barely had time to breathe, much less blog.  I'm hoping that, after next week, things will settle down a bit.

I was on my blog last weekend, but it was only to embed html code on the page and on my webpages at the College.   It was an annoying and time-consuming task, but it is finally done.

Had a troll who had to be blocked.   After seven frickin' months, I finally gave up hoping they'd get a life.

Clearly, some have not heeded the wisdom of Siggy Flicker: "A man's rejection is God's protection."  Amen to that, Ms. Flicker.

In the meantime, I had a wonderful winter's day yesterday: it was snowing, so I was alternating between reading and shoveling.

I've been rereading a Kyrgyz epic, Manas.  It's an oral epic handed down from generation to generation by the Kyrgyz people.  It tells the story of their exile to the Altai Mountains (pictured to the right and below).

The Kyrgyz Republic, or Kyrgyzstan, is situated between Kazakhstan (to the north) and China (to the southeast).  It is bordered on the west by Uzbekistan and by Tajikistan in the southwest.


In the epic of Manas, a branch of the Kyrgyz settle in exile in the region of the Altai Mountains. (The mountain range that spans the borders between Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Russia and China).

Nevertheless, they look forward to the day when a heroic leader will be born who will lead them back to reclaim their homeland.

Manas is the hero who will reunite the Kyrgyz people and their homeland: the Kyrgyz shout "Manas! Manas!" as they ride into battle.  Manas leads the exiled branch of the Kyrgyz back to their lands in the Alatau Mountains (pictured below).





No one knows how old the epic story of Manas actually is: the first written versions of it appear in the 16th century, but indications are that it is much older.

One of the problems involved in preserving oral traditions, obviously, is that they were never meant to be written.  In the case of the Kyrgyz epic, it has traditionally been performed by Manaschi, individuals who devote their entire lives to memorizing and publicly performing the (lengthy) epic.

The poem, in its written form, is a little over 500,000 lines.

The film, The Last Manaschi, depicts the life of one of the most famous Manaschi, Qaba Atabekov.

If you click on the following link, you can watch a child Manaschi performing an episode from Manas.

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