Audio & Video Tracks | CHAPTER 10

Aqyns and Improvised-Poetry Competitions among the Kazakhs and Kyrgyz

  • Ref. 10.1
    Alym sabak aytysh
    Alym sabak aytysh between senior master aqyn Tuuganbay and his pupil, Aaly aqyn.
    View translation
    Kagazsyz yrdy jat aytkan,
    They improvised songs without paper [reading],
    Takalyp kalbay bat aytkan.
    And sang them fast without stumbling.
    Toktogul, Kalyk, Jengijok,
    I proudly pronounce the names of our fathers
    Tolgop bir atang aty aytkan.
    Toktogul, Kalyk, and Jengijok.
    Alty sap menen bashtayly,
    Let’s start our song with six verse lines,
    My son,
    Akyl oy tynsyn tak aytkyn.
    Speak clearly and delight the mind.
    Talanttyn alpy taza aytkan,
    These giant talents sang pure words.
    Talanttyn kalpy pas aytkan.
    Fake talents sang poor words.
    Maktasa kökkö chygaryp
    They praised [good people] by making them fly in the sky.
    Jakpasa any kashaytkan.
    They taught [bad people] a lesson by making them feel the heat,
    Takalbay sizdey bash aytkan,
    Elders like you spoke without stumbling.
    Takalbay bizdey jash aytkan.
    Youth like me spoke without stumbling.
    Alty sap menen jakshy ayttyng,
    You did a god job with improvising the six-line verses.
    Ar birin sözdün akty ayttyng.
    You sang truth in each of your words.
    Tört saptan emi bashtayly,
    Let’s now sing with four-line verses,
    Top kelsin baykap asta aytkyn.
    Make sure that your words rhyme carefully.
    Ayt deding alty sapty ayttym,
    You told me to sing a six-line-verse song, and I did,
    A kayra tort dep bashka ayttyng.
    Then you told me to sing a four-line song.
    Eseptep ar bir sap yrdy,
    By counting each verse line,
    My dear father,
    Esti alyp közdü chakchayttyng.
    You are making me scared.
    Aytkandy tuura kabyl al,
    Understand me correctly,
    My son,
    Akyn bol jurtung sagynar.
    Be the beloved aqyn of your people.
    Araket kylsang jakshylap,
    If you try harder,
    Ar jagy dele tabylar.
    You will find the rest of the words.
    Tak bilesinger baryngar,
    You all know obviously that
    Tayaktyng eki jagy bar.
    A stick has two ends.
    Eki saptan dep aytat,
    We will switch now to a two-line-verse song,
    Esingerge salyngar.
    Pay attention to it.
    Poyuzdun eki jolu bar,
    A train track has two rails,
    Adamdyn eki kolu bar.
    A man has two hands.
    Pilus-minus eki san,
    There is plus and minus
    Elektrdin togu bar.
    In electricity.
    Bardyk ele düynönün,
    There is existence and non-existence
    Bary menen jogu bar.
    In this world.
    Urgaachyny, erkekti
    Don’t forget,
    Ushunu da oyunga al.
    There is female and male.
    Eki tashtan ot chygat,
    Rubbing two rocks gives a spark,
    Eki zymdan tok chygat.
    Connecting two wires gives electricity.
    Dary menen pistondon
    Gunpowder and caps
    “Dong!” dedirip ot chygat.
    Make a loud “bang!”
    Barysh menen kelish bar,
    There is going and coming.
    Alysh menen berish bar.
    There is taking and giving.
    Tozok jana beyish bar,
    There is hell and heaven.
    Adyr jana tegiz bar.
    There is hill and plain.
    Batysh menen chygysh bar,
    There is west and east.
    Jatysh menen turush bar.
    There is sleeping and getting up.
    Anda bir saptan yrga ötülü,
    Now, let’s switch to a one-line song,
    Mende mynday sunush bar.
    This is my proposal.
    Asmandagy kün jalgyz.
    There is only one sun in the sky.
    Alla özüng bir jalgyz.
    There is only one Allah [God].
    Andan kiyin kim jalgyz?
    What else is only one?
    Aysyz kara tün jalgyz.
    A night without the moon is alone.
    Asmandagy ay jalgyz.
    The moon in the sky is alone
    A düynödö jay jalgyz.
    The place in the other world is alone.
    Aylanyp turgan jer jalgyz.
    The circling earth is alone.
    Baylanyp turgan er jalgyz.
    A tied-up man [hero] is alone.
    Bir sapty eki bölölü.
    Let’s divide the verse line into two.
    Anda biyagyn aytyp korolü.
    OK. Let’s try to sing that way.
    T-A: Eki tering--ton bolboyt.
    Two sheep hides--can’t make a coat.
    T-A: Eki tyyyn--som bolboyt.
    Two coins--can’t be called money.
    T-A: Uy terisi--ton bolboyt.
    A cowhide--can’t be a coat.
    T-A: Urushchaak kishi--chong bobloyt.
    A quarrelsome person--can’t succeed.
    T-A: Dümürü jok--bak bolboyt.
    A tree without roots--can’t be a tree.
    T-A: Dülöy kishi--sak bolboyt.
    A deaf person--can’t be cautious.
    T-A: Afiriste--ar bolboyt.
    A liar--has no shame.
    T-A: Afrikada--kar bolboyt.
    Africa--has no snow.
    T-A: Uzartyp emi--sozpoylu.
    Let’s not sing--too long.
    T-A: Ushunu menen--toktoylu.
    Let’s stop--here.
  • Ref. 10.2
    Tabyshmak aytysh
    Tabyshmak aytysh, a riddle aytish performed by Azamat Bolgonbaev.
    View translation
    Chongdu’s riddle:
    Ayry-ayry bel bolot,
    Chains of hills create passes,
    Oyloboy aytsang jel bolot,
    Careless words are like a puff of air, but
    Atasy ölsö ne bolot?
    What is it like losing one’s father?
    Er ölüshsö joo bolot,
    The death of heroes makes people enemies,
    Enesi ölsö ne bolot?
    What is it like losing one’s mother?
    Akyl ukkan zor bolot,
    One who listens to wise words will succeed,
    Aga-tuugan bel bolot,
    Relatives are one’s support, so
    Agasy ölsö ne bolot?
    What is it like losing one’s older brother?
    Kara chym basyp denesin,
    If buried under the black wet soil,
    Karyndash ölsö ne bolot?
    What is it like losing one’s younger sister?1
    Jengilin jerden aluuchu,
    What is it like losing one’s sister-in-law,
    Jengeng ölsö ne bolot?
    Who eases everyone’s work around the house?
    Ezilip tosup turuuchu,
    What is it like losing one’s older sister,
    Ejeng ölsö ne bolot?
    Who welcomes you with great joy?
    Balkytyp turchu denengdi,
    What is it like losing one’s child,
    Balang ölsö ne bolot?
    Who melts your body with his [her] smell?
    Totu kushtay kulpungan,
    What is it like losing one’s daughter,
    Kyzyng ölsö ne bolot?
    Who is as beautiful as a parrot?
    Kerilip burchta olturgan,
    What is it like losing one’s daughter-in-law,
    Kelining ölsö ne bolot?
    Who sits gracefully in the corner?
    Kapshytyngdy tolturgan,
    What is it like losing one’s wife,
    Katynyng ölsö ne bolot?
    Who fills your house?
    Jurt jakshysy kadyrman,
    What is it like losing a wise man
    Akylman ölsö ne bolot?
    Who is a respected leader?
    Eki el joolashsa,
    If two people fight and
    Ebi ketip doolashsa,
    Demand retribution from each other,
    Anyn jaiy ne bolot?
    What will happen to them?
    Arstanbek’s answer:
    Ataluu adam zor bolot,
    One who has a father has it all.
    Atasy ölgön kor bolot,
    One whose father dies will be miserable.
    Askar toosu solkuldap,
    It is as if a mighty mountain
    Uragan menen teng bolot.
    Shakes and collapses.
    Enesi ölgön adamdyn,
    One who loses one’s mother
    Chalkar bulak soolup,
    Is like a dried-up spring
    Changkagan menen teng bolot.
    That can’t satisfy thirst.
    Eti boyu ezilip,
    There will be no one like a mother
    Enedey süychü kim bolot?
    To love and adore you.
    Agasy ölgön adamdyn,
    One who loses one’s older brother
    Aytarga sözü kem bolot,
    Will not be able to speak confidently,
    Arkalap jürchü kim bolot?
    And will have no one to back him up.
    Inisi ölgön adamdyn,
    One who loses one’s younger brother
    Chabaarga kamchy kem bolot.
    Will have no horse whip to ride [his horse].
    Jatyndash saga dem bolot,
    Because a brother is your strength,
    Jatyndashtan ajyrash,
    Being separated from your brother
    Jalyn menen teng bolot.
    Is like burning in flames.
    Karyndash ölsö kakshaysyng,
    You feel forlorn and hopeless
    Bar aylangdy tappaysyng.
    When you lose a younger sister.
    Jengesi ölgön adamdyn,
    Losing a sister-in-law is like
    Jengi jelden jyrtylat,
    Having your sleeve ripped off by the wind
    Jakasy kirden kyrkylat.
    Or your collar disintegrate from dirt.
    Ejesi ölgön kishinin,
    One who loses an older sister
    Erkeler jeri az bolot,
    Will have no place to go to indulge oneself.
    Ejenin közü ötkön song,
    After your older sister dies,
    Jeen degen jat bolot.
    Your nieces and nephews will be estranged.
    Balasy ölgön adamdyn,
    Losing one’s child is like having
    Bar özögü örttönüp,
    Embers poured over your body and
    Chok chachkan menen teng bolot.
    Burning to your bones.
    Kyzy ölgön adamdyn,
    Losing a daughter
    Kabyrgasy bölünöt,
    Is like having one’s ribs broken,
    Kanduu jashy tögülöt.
    You will shed tears of blood.
    Kelini ölgön adamdyn,
    Losing a daughter-in-law
    Kermeden aty boshonup,
    Is like losing one’s horse and
    Kemigen menen teng bolot.
    Losing a family member.
    Katyny ölgön adamdyn,
    Losing a wife
    Kutu ketet üyünün.
    Is like losing the kut2 of a house.
    Akylman ötsö duynödön,
    If a wise man dies,
    Artynda asyl söz kalat.
    Pearls of wisdom will remain behind him.
    Eki el joolashsa,
    If two groups of people fight and
    Eldikten ketip doolashsa,
    Demand retribution from one another,
    Jetim menen jesirdin
    The number of orphans and widows
    Sany elde köböyüp,
    Will increase in society,
    Sayasy ketet jeringdyn.
    Your land will lose its spirit.
    Sandyraktap ar jerde,
    Wandering everywhere like beggars,
    Sany ketet elingdin.3
    People will diminish.


    1. Qaryndas/qaryndash is a Kazakh and Kyrgyz kinship term used for a younger sister of a man. The term for a younger sister of an older sister is singli/singdi.

    2. Kut: a Turkic word that has multiple meanings and is understood and used differently in various contexts. Here it means “fortune,” “luck,” “blessing,” “warmth.”

    3. Arstanbek, (Bishkek: Ilim, 1994), 53.

  • Ref. 10.3
    Süre aitys
    Süre aitys between Köken Shäkeev and Qonysbai Äbilov (excerpt). Filmed in Almaty, Kazakhstan, 1985. From Jürsin Erman, Aitys 4. Torghai - Kökshetau oblystary aqyn-jyrshylarynyng öner saiysy (Competition between the Art of Aqyns and Jyrshys from the Torghai and Kökshetau Regions - Almaty: Studiya Dastan).
    View translation
    Köken Shäkeev:
    Ou, körermender eldegi, osy jerdegi de,
    Oh, spectators of this land,
    Ou, qysqasha sälem berdim-au, zerdelige.
    Oh, I greet you, alert [listeners].
    Ou, qauym, osy aitysu oblystan
    Oh, community, this aitys between districts
    Ainaldy janga ömirding örnegine.
    Has become an epitome of new life.
    Ou, uaqyt tyghyz, shama joq naiqalugha,
    Oh, there is no time for lingering,
    Ou, ündemei durys bolmas jaiqalugha.
    Oh, it is no good dragging your feet without saying a word.
    Sizderge sälem berdim, tuysqandar,
    I greet you, relatives,
    Qatysqan aqyndardyng baiqauynan, a, e.
    At the parade of participating aqyns, ah, eh.
    Ou, aitys degen maqtanysh önerimiz,
    Oh, the art of aitysis our pride,
    Ou, el-jurtqa bergennen köp bererimiz.
    Oh, we give generously to the people.
    Shynynda, aitys degen ruhani
    Truly, aitys is our spiritual art
    Kün saiyn köterildi önerimiz.
    That has daily been lifted high.
    Oi, aitystyng mäni nusqa, sözi nusqa,
    Oh, the meaning of aitys is an exemplar, its word is a model,
    Shangyraq kötergendei qurylysta.
    It is akin to a shangyraq1 lifting a building.
    Shynynda, aitys degen ruhani
    Truly, aitys is a spiritual [art]
    Ainaldy äleumettik qubylysqa, a, e.
    That has become a social phenomenon, ah, eh.
    Ou, saqtaiyq aqyndyqtyng parasatyn
    Oh, let us uphold the good sense of aqyndyq,
    Jaqsygha jaqsy märtebesi jarasatyn.
    Matching each other in fine stature.
    Qaraghym Qonysjanym, jaqyndashy,
    Dear Qonysjan, come closer,
    Üzenggiles jürgenge jarasatyn.
    It suits us to go side by side.
    Ou, shashylghan alphalt jolda astyghyndai,
    Oh, like grain scattered on an asphalt road,
    Teruge qus emespiz talasatyn.
    We are not birds fighting to gather it.
    Shashylghanda örneksiz öleng bolsa,
    When it comes to scattering a simple song,
    Körshining böten emes qarasatyn.
    We are not strange neighbors casting an eye over each other.
    Ou, adamdar söilegenshe jat bolatyn,
    Oh, until people have talked, they are strangers,
    Söilesken song bauyr bop tarasatyn.
    After they have talked, they part as brothers.
    Ou, ölengdi joqtan bardyng-au jelip ötti,
    Oh, you can instantly make a song out of nothing,
    Torghaiyng shyn aqyn dep senim etse.
    Your Torghai has put its trust in you as a true aqyn.
    Közben körip, gazetke jazyp eding,
    You wrote in a newspaper what you have seen,
    Maqtai ber Kökshemizdi, tiling jetse.
    Celebrate our Kökshe, if your language is adequate.
    Ou, otyrsyng arty qazir “Torghaiym” dep,
    Oh, you are sitting now thinking, “My Torghai,
    “Sol üshin bügin uzaq tolghaimyn” dep.
    Today I shall long praise it in song.”
    Torghaiyng saghan da ortaq, maghan da ortaq,
    Torghai is close to both you and me.
    Otyr ghoi, “Aghang sözin sozbaiyn” dep.
    You are sitting and thinking, “May agha2 spread out his words.”
    Ol “syigha syi, sisyz sugha barady” degen söz bar,
    There is a saying, “Who gives a present gains a present, who does not fetches the water,”
    “Älipting artyn kütip ozbaiyn” dep.
    But “Don’t speak too soon,” as they say.
    Ou, keshegi Yrghyz-Torghai öngirinde
    Oh, from the former Yrghyz-Torghai region
    Bilemiz Amangeldining ömirin de.
    We know well the life of Amangeldi.3
    Serik bolghan batyrgha, batyrgha Älibiding
    A companion to the hero was the heroism and valor of Älibi4
    Erligi, öjettigi köngilimde.
    I remember that.
    Ou, zäulim üi, teatr men saraiyng bar,
    Oh, you have high buildings, palaces, and theaters,
    Kömir, temir, baqsisyng qalaiyng bar.
    You have coal, iron, and molten ore.
    Mektebingdi salghyzsang, Ybyraiym,
    My Ybyrai,5 if you built a school,
    Oi, ülgi eter pana aqyn aghaiynyng bar.
    Oh, there are fellow aqyns who will praise you for setting an example.
    Bilemin qazirgi erleringdi,
    I know your contemporaries,
    Maqtaugha jaraitughyn talaiyng bar.
    Many of them are praiseworthy.
    Ou, bilemin jaqsy menen esilingdi,
    Oh, I know the good and the best from your region,
    Shyghargha jaqsylyqpen esimingdi.
    Who have made their names by good deeds.
    Qoi qoralas, jan-jandas körshim eding,
    You are my close neighbor both in mingling flocks and in kindred spirit,
    Jaqsy körem ilgeri ösuingdi.
    I like it that you are prospering.
    Ou, bar edi-au sizding jaqta tanystarym,
    Oh, I have acquaintances in your area,
    Ou, qiyn boldy-au körshimmen alysqanym.
    Oh, it is difficult to contest with a neighbor.
    El senimi biyl da aqtalghandai,
    People’s trust seems to have been justified this year, as well,
    Qaiyrly, qutty bolsyn tabystaryng!
    Congratulations on your achievements!
    Al, qaraghym, bereiin saghan kezek,
    And now, dear, I should give you your turn,
    Jaqsy boldy-au aitysyp tabysqanym.
    It is good that we have met to compete in an aitys.
    Qonysbai Äbilov:
    Assalaumaghalaiküm, Köken agha, ou,
    Peace be upon you, Köken agha, oh,
    Jürmisiz jairang qaghyp, esen, agha, ou?
    Are you happy and well, agha, ?h?
    Sizbenen sälemdesu maghan baqyt,
    It is a pleasure for me to greet you,
    Mäz bolyp, aulyma ketem, agha, ou.
    I shall return to my auyl overjoyed, agha, oh.
    Ötken jyl esimingiz jüregimde,
    Your name is in my heart from last year,
    Mänggilik alyp edi-au, neken agha, ou.
    It will stay there forever, the only agha, oh.
    “Bul bala nege sonsha maqtady?” dep,
    “Why is this child boasting so much?” you are thinking,
    Sözime qaramangyz sekem alyp, ou.
    Don’t be looking at my words distrustfully, oh.
    Maqsatym el aldynda marapattau, ou,
    My goal before the people is to praise, oh,
    Oiym joq ishke bükken böten, agha, ou.
    There is no ulterior motive at the back of my mind, oh.
    Ardaqty özingizdei aghalardy
    Honorable senior people like yourself
    Töbeme köterumen ötem, agha, ou.
    I shall glorify, agha, oh.
    Izbasar inilikke jarai alsam,
    If I am worthy of being [your] inheritor, [your] younger brother,
    Mendaghy maqsatyma jetem, agha, ou.
    I have reached my goal, agha, oh.
    Kezdesip qaldyq bügin, jolyngyzdy
    We have met today,
    Kiiktei qalai kesip ötem, agha, ou?
    How will I stand in your way like a saiga, agha, oh?
    A-yai, a-yai, a-yai…
    A-yai, a-yai, a-yai…
    Biledi örge süirer shamangdy är kim,
    Everyone knows your surpassing strength,
    Aldyngyz berekesin shamandardyng.
    You stripped the hapless of their success.
    Elime erte ösken, ardagerim,
    Matured for the sake of my people early on, my veteran,6
    Qalaisha auzym baryp jamandarmyn?
    How can I get my tongue round speaking badly of you?
    Keshegi el basyna kün tughanda,
    When calamity came to the former country,
    Qolynga qarudy da, qalamdy (da) aldyng.
    You took in your hands both a weapon and a pen,
    Khalqymnyng öner süigen talabyna
    At the desire of the art-loving people
    Ishinen qalyng örtting aman qaldyng.
    You stayed alive amid overwhelming fire.
    A-yai, a-yai, a-yai…
    A-yai, a-yai, a-yai…
    Ölengdi men de jastan qurap edim,
    I, too, have made verses in song from my youth,
    Aq bata bügin sizden surap edim.
    Today I ask for your kind blessing.
    Aqan men Birjan shyqqan Kökshetaudan
    From Kökshetau, [the homeland of] Aqan and Birjan,7
    Kelding be jeldei esip, Qulagerim?
    Haven’t you come, blowing like a wind, my Qulager.8
    A-yai, a-yai, a-yai…
    A-yai, a-yai, a-yai…
    Körkine Kökshening kim talasady, ei?
    Who can rival the beauty of Kökshe, eh?
    Ataghy Alataudan äri asady, ei.
    Its glory has spread beyond the Alatau [Mountains], eh.
    Shyngyna örlep ösken aghashtary
    Indeed, its towering fully grown trees
    Ybyrai ükisindei jarasady, ei.
    Are like Ybyrai’s feathers, eh.9
    Aqylgha, aghajan, siz kende emessiz,
    Dear agha, there is no denying your intelligence,
    Aghattau söilep ketsem, jön demessiz.
    If I say something amiss, don’t take me wrong,
    Ardager Amangeldi, Älibidei
    To the sons of my Torghai like the honorable Amangeldi and Älibi
    Ul bergen Torghaiymdy kem demessiz.
    You are not inferior.
    Otyrsyz är sözimnen shyrailanyp,
    You are sitting and beaming with joy at my every word,
    Shegelep aitqan sözim unai qalyp.
    Liking what I say pointedly.
    Eki elding tuyn alyp topqa tüsken,
    Raising the banners of the two regions, we are performing before the audience,
    Köpshilik bizdi endi synaidy alyp.
    People will now be judging us.
    Otyrmyz jüirikterdi jarystyryp,
    We are at the contest of orators,
    Ne kerek bul mashina namys qylyp?
    What is this car10 for, toward defending our honor?
    Qazaqtyng qasietti eki otauyn
    Why compare all over again
    Qaitemiz qaita-qaita salystyryp?
    The two sacred Kazakh homes?
    A-yai, a-yai, a-yai…
    A-yai, a-yai, a-yai…


    1. Wooden circlet at the top of the yurt.

    2. Respectful form of address to an elder brother or senior man.

    3. Amangeldi Imanov (18731919) was the leader of the anti-Tsarist uprising in the Torghai region in 1916 who actively participated in the establishment of the Soviet administration in the Kazakh steppe.

    4. Älibi Jangeldin (18841953), originally from Torghai region, was a revolutionary and companion-in-arms of Amangeldi Imanov in the 1916 uprising against the Tsarist domination.

    5. Ybyrai Altynsarin (18411889), another famous native of Torghai, was a teacher and enlightener who initiated secular education among the Kazakhs.

    6. The aqyn refers to the fact that his opponent was a veteran of World War II.

    7. Aqan seri Qoramsauly (18431913) and Birjan sal Qojaghululy (18341897) were celebrated singer-songwriters who came from the Kökshetau region.

    8. Qulager, Aqan seri’s favorite horse, was known for his unrivalled qualities as a racer. He was killed during a horserace at the order of a wealthy man whose own horse was likely to lose. Aqan seri commemorated Qulager in a song that is prominent in the repertory of singers from the Sary-Arqa tradition.

    9. Ybyrai Sandybaiuly (18601930) was a renowned singer-poet from Kökshetau who adorned his headpiece with owl feathers (üki)--traditionally an amulet that offered protection from the evil eye--and was therefore nicknamed Ükili Ybyrai (Ybyrai with Owl Feathers).

    10. The main prize of the aitys.

  • Ref. 10.4
    Aitys between Amanjol Ältaev and Mels Qosymbaev (excerpt). From Jürsin Erman, Aitys 5 (VHS cassette) (Almaty: Center Records, 2002).
    Filmed in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
    View translation
    Amanjol Ältaev:
    Eu, terbeltip mülgip jatqan, eu, shyngdaryngdy,
    Oh, quiescent, oh, mountain peaks [of Alatau],1
    Serttesip segiz aqyn, au, syngha kirdi.
    Eight aqyns have made a commitment, oh, and entered the trial.
    Köz salghan küreng baisha qalyng elim,
    My numerous people, who are looking on,
    Ishinen daralap al shyn daryndy-au, ai.
    Choose the most talented ones, oh, eh.
    Eu, baqty dep, bir basyna, ou, Kök Tängirden,
    Oh, Blue Sky [Tengri], oh, bestow happiness on me,
    Syrlastym boz dalada, ou, jortqan ulmen.
    Your prodigal son, oh, who has shared his innermost thoughts with the feather-grass steppe.
    Kaspiiding tolqynyndai tulap aqqan,
    Akin to the wild waves of the Caspian Sea,
    Armysyng, Melis aqyn, topqa kelgen-ai.
    Greetings to you, Mels aqyn, performing before the audience, eh.
    Eu, bügingi bul keruenning, eu, nary sensing,
    Oh, you are the leader,2 oh, of today’s caravan,
    Mäueli sayasy mol-au, taly sensing,
    You are a blossoming, oh, shady tree,
    Jasqanbai, künge jumsar, qart Kaspiiding
    Not afraid of the sun.
    Aibarly basyndaghy baghy sensing.
    You are the luck of the fierce old Caspian Sea.
    Söz söile ülken bolyp el aldynda,
    Having spoken and matured before the people,
    Bügingi bul aitystyng shaly sensing-ai.
    You are the old man of today’s aitys, eh.
    Eu, batystyng balasy eding, eu, arys mangdai,
    Oh, you are a child of the west, oh, with a broad forehead,
    Kezing joq alghy shepten, eu, qalysqandai.
    There has been no time, oh, when you were falling behind the forefront.
    Eu, nur tökken kün astynda enshi surap,
    Oh, looking for your allotted position3 under the shining sun,
    Baiqadyng segiz jüirik jarysqandai.
    You witnessed how eight aqyns have competed.
    Talai düldül inimmen aityssamda,
    With what eloquent younger brothers I might have competed,
    Özingmen bolmaidy eken alysqanda, ei.
    It is not like competing with you, eh.
    Eu, qarsylas, bes qaruyng-ai sai sekildi,
    Oh, opponent, you seem to be well prepared, ah, [for the competition],4
    Tulaidy jyr tolqynyng, eu, tai sekildi.
    Waves of poetic song are roaring, oh, like a colt.
    Alshang basyp jaighastyng janyma kep,
    Proudly you have stationed yourself beside me,
    Kökseudi bappen qozghap bai sekildi.
    Like a rich man longing to get started in earnest.
    Bir kürkirep qoyasyng anda-sanda,
    You will rumble now and again,
    Sharq etip, jerge tüsken-au jai sekildi.
    And hiss like lightning, oh, striking the earth.
    Al, endi kezektesip-au aitysalyq,
    Let us now compete in an aitys, oh, one after the other,
    Kezek shyqqan Kün menen Ai sekildi-au, ei...
    Like the Sun and Moon coming out in turn, oh, eh…
    Mels Qosymbaev:
    Ä, e…
    ?h, ?h…
    Ei, aitysqa bügin tüskenmin,
    Eh, I am taking part in the aitys today,
    “Ashsyn” dep “Qudai baghymdy.”
    Thinking, “May God grant me luck.”
    Tuyaghy altyn tulpar jür,
    Racers with golden hooves gallop,
    Tabaiyn sening babyngdy.
    Let me find a way to you.
    Burynghy ötken shaldaryng
    Old men of the past
    Tobyqtai sözben bitirgen
    Settled unending disputes
    Toqtamaghan dauyndy.
    With concise words.
    Shabyt keldi maghan da.
    Inspiration has come to me, too.
    Köpten beri körgen song,
    Not having seen it for a long time,
    Saghynyp Alatauymdy.
    I have missed my Alatau.
    Alatau--mening taghdyrym,
    Alatau is my fate,
    Qarsy alatyn qas qaiyp
    Meeting head-on
    Dauyl menen jauyndy.
    Storm and rain.
    Izdegenge suraghan,
    What I was looking for,
    Qasymnan mening tabyldy.
    I found at my side.
    Keregi bolsa, alarsyng,
    If it has to be, you will win,
    Tarazygha tarttyryp.
    Tipping the scale.
    Men ortagha saldym barymdy,
    I have laid bare all I have,
    Sol siyaqty söz degen.
    Words are like this.
    Taba almai erteng qalasyng,
    Tomorrow you might not have found them,
    Taqyrgha shashsang taryngdy.
    As if you threw millet around on the bare ground.
    Amanjoldai qurdasym,
    My peer, Amanjol,
    Kezdestirding aitysta
    You have met at the aitys
    Melis degen shalyndy.
    An old man called Mels.
    Ei, “Jabysatyn shal ghoi!” dep,
    Oh, thinking, “What a tenacious old man!”
    Bul Melis saghan ne qyldy-ai, e… ?
    What has this Mels done to you, ah, eh… ?
    Ei, khalaiyq otyr aldymda,
    Oh, the audience is sitting in front of me,
    Aqyndardan jyr tilep.
    Longing for poetic words in song from the aqyns.
    Jyrmen de birge aitatyn
    Together with the sung poetry
    Aluan da aluan syr tilep.
    They are longing for a wide range of secrets.
    Amanjol keldi, köreiik,
    Amanjol came, let us see,
    Shulatyp köpti büldirgen.
    Exploded and stirred up many.
    Buidasyn jelge türdirgen,
    Turned the camel’s bridle reins toward the wind,
    Bura tös bulttai kürkürep,
    Rumbled like a thundercloud,
    Jaraspaidy bizderge.
    This does not work for us.
    Alqagha salsa aitysta,
    He performs before the crowd,
    Söz aitqanda sirkirep.
    Letting his words fall drop by drop.
    Sen “shal” degen Melisting
    Mels, whom you call “an old man,”
    Saqaly tügil murty joq, e…
    Doesn’t even have a beard or a moustache, eh…


    1. The aqyn refers to Alatau because the aitys took place in Almaty.

    2. Nar, literally dromedary.

    3. Enshi, literally share of inheritance given to elder sons in a family.

    4. Literally “Your five weapons seem to be ready [for action]” (idiomatic expression).

  • Ref. 10.5
    Aitys between Didar Qamiev and Ainur Tursunbaeva (excerpt). Shieli, Qyzylorda region, Kazakhstan. Video courtesy of Didar Qamiev.
    View translation
    Didar Qamiev:
    Bismillä, joldan taima, jaghym, qane,
    Bismillä,1 do not stray from the track, my tongue,
    Tulpar e(di)m topqa tüsken babyndaghy.
    I am a racehorse in its prime performing before the public.
    Toi dübiri estilip osy jaqtan,
    The tumult of a celebration is heard from here,
    Qazaqtyghym oyandy qanymdaghy.
    Kazakhness has woken up in my blood.
    Arqadan Qarakesek balang keldi,
    From Arqa your son, Qarakesek, has come,
    Qarakesek ettei bop qamyrdaghy.
    The flesh and blood of the Qarakesek.2
    Shieli qut daryghan kieli ölke,
    Shieli is a sacred region endowed with abundance,
    Qundaghynan qasiet arylmady.
    Whose virtue has not disappeared since the cradle.
    Qaimaghy buzylmaghan qaimana jurt,
    Tight-knit community the cream of whose crop remains unspoiled,
    Qashanda jaqsylyqtyng qamyndaghy.
    Who always take care of the good.
    Ar-uyat, ädet-ghuryp, salt-dästürin
    Their honor and conscience, traditions and customs, rites and conventions
    Sary maidai saqtaghan qaryndaghy.
    Have been preserved like butter in an animal stomach.3
    Meiirimmen qarsy alyp meimanyndy,
    You are welcoming your guest with hospitality,
    Peiiling men nieting tarylmady.
    Your graciousness and good intent have not diminished.
    Assalaumaghalaiküm, Shielimning
    Peace be upon you, my Shieli’s
    Qaiyspas qaisar jurty qabyrghaly.
    Unyielding, steadfast, strong community.
    Äbdildamen artady ghasyrlargha,
    [The name of] Äbdilda4 will be retained for centuries,
    Qazaqy qara ölengning qadir--mäni.
    The power of a real Kazakh verse in song (qara öleng) is in its meaning.
    Aghaiyn, toilaryngyz qutty bolsyn!
    Kinsfolk, congratulations on your celebration!
    Güldeitin musylmannyng sabyr--baghy.
    Patience blossoming among Muslims is a blessing.
    Ölengimdi uzattym özderinge,
    I have extended my song for you,
    Shapalaqpen tölensin qalyng maly.
    May the reward5 be paid for by rounds of applause.
    Köpshilik, endi bermen bas bura ber,
    Folk, now look at me,
    Shang qappai shauyp körsin jas Qulager.
    May the young Qulager race ahead of its competitors.6
    Älemde erkek deitin bir qauym bar,
    There is a people in the world who are called men,
    Men bolamyn solargha jas murager.
    I am their young successor.
    Erkek degen ejelden qoidan juas,
    Men from old times are meeker than sheep,
    Oghan mening minezim--jaqsy dälel.
    Good evidence of this is my temperament.
    Sen bolsang, sonyng bärin jengip bitting,
    As for you, you have won all of them,
    Köngilime kek turyp, kek bolyp ras turady ol.
    Solardyng namysy üshin men kep turmyn,
    I came here for the sake of their honor,
    Shamang jetse, auzyma tas tygha ber.
    If you have the capability, try gagging me.
    Erkekterding balyghyn qoidai qyrghan,
    Slayer of all men like sheep,
    Armysyng, Ainur deitin “qasqyr äiel”!
    Greetings to you, a “wolf-woman” called Ainur!
    Bul Didar tap kelgenge shap berushi edi,
    This Didar, when he enters a competition, snatches [his opponent],
    Qarsylas sonda qandai shaq kelushi edi?
    What opponent can then outdo him?
    Aghaiyn, demeu berip otyryngdar,
    Kinsfolk, lend your support,
    Jamaghat, jas balagha jaq bolushy edi.
    People, come to the young boy’s defence.
    Sebebi janymdaghy Ainur apam,
    This is because Ainur apa,7 sitting beside me,
    Saiysqa sauysqandai saq kelushi edi.
    Has come to the contest like a wary magpie.
    Bayaghyda aitysqa shyqqan saiyn
    Once, when entering an aitys,
    Tal shybyqtai arular tap kelushi edi.
    One would meet with beauties like willow twigs.
    Al bügingi qarsylas müldem bölek,
    And today’s contestant is altogether different,
    Barghan jerden bas bäige ap kelushi edi.
    Whatever contest she goes to, she gets the main prize.
    Täuekel, ne de bolsa, aitysaiyn,
    I’ll take the risk and, whatever happens, compete with her in an aitys,
    Babym kelse, basyma baq qonushy edi.
    If I am well prepared, fortune will be on my side.
    Shiedei erinderi diril qaqqan,
    Her lips are trembling like cherries,8
    Shielide jolyqty-au, aq kelinshek.
    In Shieli I have met, oh, with a fair young lady.9
    Shögerip Shielige tüiengizdi,
    You made your camel kneel in Shieli,
    Kelipsiz üige tastap iengizdi.
    You came here, having left your master at home.
    Eriningdi shiedei dep otyrsam,
    If I say that your lips are like cherries,
    Qashyrmaiyn dep edim kiengizdi.
    Let me not scare off your sanctity.10
    Aitystaghy eng jasy bolghannan song,
    Since I am the youngest [contestant] at the aitys,
    Özinge juptap qoidy, mine, bizdi.
    I was allotted to you.
    Tättige bala ghana qumar bolady,
    Only a child loves sweets,
    Menen basqa kim jeidi shiengizdi?
    Who else but me will eat your cherries?
    Ainur Tursunbaeva:
    Äi, bala, saghan ne boldy?
    Eh, child, what’s up with you?
    Qyzyq qoi myna qylyghyng.
    This trickery of yours is amusing.
    Tüsinbei qaldym bul uldyng
    I didn’t understand this boy’s
    Shielidegi shyrylyn.
    Squealing in Shieli.
    Shiengnen bügin jeimin dep,
    You say you will eat cherries today,
    Shie böridei ulydyng.
    Howling like a wolf.
    Erkekting kegin alsyn dep,
    You say you will avenge men,
    Aidap saldy eken muny kim?
    Who is it that incites you?
    Ony saghan jeu qaida?
    How on earth are you going to eat them?
    Süiegi qatty bolmai ma?
    Aren’t their stones going to be hard?
    Tatsang da täube shyrynyn,
    Even if you taste its juice,
    Iesi bar ghoi shiening.
    The cherry has its master.
    Sony bilmei me bul inim?
    Doesn’t this younger brother know this?
    Qaidaghy joqty jeimin dep,
    Having eaten whatever comes to hand,
    Qaqalyp qalma, qulynym!
    Don’t choke on it, my little kid!11
    Bismillä sözdi bastaiyn,
    Let me begin with the words Bismillä,
    Jyr-qymyz tögip sabamnan.
    Pouring qymyz-song from my saba.12
    Asan qaighy atam jatqan jer,
    The land where the forefather Asan qaighy13 is laid,
    Alashqa aty taralghan.
    Whose name has spread throughout Alash.14
    Dülei jel syndy ekpini,
    Impetuous like a wild wind,
    Süleiler shyqqan arangnan.
    Famous bards came from this area.
    Qanshama miras qaldy ghoi
    How much heritage has been left
    Nar tulgha Nartai danamnan!
    By my patron, sturdy Nartai!15
    Qazyna qaldy qanshama
    How much treasure has been left
    Imanjüsiptei babamnan!
    By forefathers like Imanjüsip!16
    Janazar batyr taghy bar,
    There is also Janazar batyr,17
    Jebedei jaugha qadalghan.
    Who pierced enemies like an arrow.
    Shoqtyghy biik Mustafa,
    The high summit, Mustafa,18
    Ruhy berik qoi qamaldan.
    Whose spirit is stronger than a fortress.
    Shahmardan menen Äbdilda
    Shahmardan19 and Äbdilda
    Shieli topyraghynyng
    Were the building bricks
    Kirpishi bolyp qalanghan.
    of Shieli earth.
    Qyryq bir engbek erining
    It is true that forty-one Worker Heroes
    Shyqqany ras qoi arangnan.
    Came from this area.
    Ybyrai menen Jadyra
    Ybyrai and Jadyra20
    Engbekten ornyn taba alghan.
    Found their place thanks to their work.
    Tälim alady qyzdaryng
    Your girls follow the example of
    Altynshashtaiyn anamnan.
    Mothers like Altynshash.21
    Önege alad(y) uldaryng
    Your boys follow the model of
    Quandyq, Asqar aghamnan.
    Senior men Quandyq and Asqar.22
    Mukhambetqali aqynnyng
    Aqyn Mukhambetqali
    Elinen bügin bagha alghan.
    Is now appraised by the people.
    Äuendi ändi estimiz
    We hear a melodious song
    Bakhtiyar änshi balangnan.
    From your son, singer Bakhtiyar.23
    Ruslandai eren ulyngnyng
    Your hero sons like Ruslan24
    Ortadan erte ketkeni.
    Passed away early.
    Jas aghyzbai ma janardan?
    Are you not shedding teardrops?
    Eshqaisy(sy) kökten tüsken joq.
    Not one of them came from the sky.
    Eshqaisy(sy) kökten tüsken joq,
    Not one of them came from the sky.
    Perzenttering bop sanalghan.
    They are all counted as your children.
    Qasietingnen när alghan,
    They sipped your virtue,
    Topyraghyngnan jaralghan.
    And were created from your soil.
    Armysyng, qairan Shielim,
    Greetings to you, my dear Shieli,
    Alyptar shyqqan Aq Ordam!
    The White Horde25 of larger-than-life men!
    Aitysta ötti Ainurdyng,
    Many a destiny has passed as Ainur
    Tartyspen talai taghdyry.
    Competed in the aitys.
    Taghdyrym qalai bolsa da,
    Whatever is my destiny,
    Jaratqannyng sol jarlyghy.
    It is the will of God.
    Qoidai ghyp bärin qyrdyng dep,
    You said I slaughtered everyone like sheep,
    Estildi-au sözding qaldyghy.
    I heard those last words of yours.
    Bekarys, Balghynbekterding
    With Bekarys and Balghynbek26
    Jarasqan bizben än-jyry.
    I found common language through songs.
    Rinat pen Aibek, Mukhtarlar
    Rinat and Aibek, Mukhtar
    Kötere bilgen baghamdy.
    Rated me highly.
    Estilmei sözding qaldyghy,
    I did not hear the rest of your words,
    Qoidai qyp qyrdyng deidi me?
    Did you say I slaughtered [everyone] like sheep?
    Köngilding bul ma tarlyghy?
    Is this perhaps your jealousy?
    Qasqyr bop kimdi jep qoidym?
    Who have I devoured like a wolf?
    Ölmei-aq jür ghoi barlyghy!
    Everybody is alive and well!


    1. From the Arabic Qur’anic phrase Bismi Allah (In the name of God).

    2. Qarakesek (literally black piece) is the name of a clan of the Arghyn tribe within the Orta Jüz (Middle Horde). The aqyn plays with the word “Qarakesek” (“I am a dough-stuffed piece of meat”) to imply that he is a true descendant of the Qarakesek clan.

    3. Among nomads, an animal stomach was used as a container for preserving butter. In such a container butter would stay fresh. The aqyn here implies that Shieli’s traditions and customs have been preserved unspoiled.

    4. Äbdilda Täjibaev (19091998), the poet and playwright on the occasion of whose anniversary the aitys was organized.

    5. Qalyng mal, literally dowry, brideswealth.

    6. Literally ahead of a cloud of dust raised by racing horses.

    7. Respectful form of address to a senior woman.

    8. The aqyn plays on the name of the region, Shieli (from shie, literally cherry).

    9. Kelinshek is an address to a young married woman.

    10. The aqyn implies that, even though he is flirting with his opponent, he does not want to be disrespectful toward her, a married woman.

    11. Qulyn, literally colt, a form of address to small children.

    12. Song is compared to fermented mare’s milk (qymyz) poured from a leather flask (saba), traditionally used for making and preserving qymyz.

    13. Asan qaighy is a Kazakh poet, philosopher, and legendary hero thought to have lived in the 14th15th century.

    14. Alash is here used with reference to an early confederation of Kazakh tribes.

    15. Nartai Bekejanov (18901945) was an eminent aqyn originally from Shieli.

    16. Imanjüsip Qutpanuly (18631929) was another famous aqyn whose name came to be associated with Shieli.

    17. Janazar batyr was a ?ompanion-in-arms and military commander of Abylai Khan (18th c.).

    18. Mustafa Shoqai (18901941) was a civic leader and politician who headed the Turkestan Autonomy (19171918), a short-lived unrecognized state that existed on the territories of present-day Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan.

    19. Shahmardan Esenov (19271994) was a scholar-geologist and statesman, a former Minister of Geology and President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Academy of Sciences.

    20. Ybyrai Jaqaev and Jadyra Taspambetova, Worker Heroes of Kazakhstan.

    21. Contemporary writer and political leader Altynshash Jaghanova.

    22. Writer Quandyq Tümenbai and mathematician Asqar Jumadildaev.

    23. Bakhtiyar Tailaqbaev, a singer, Honored Artist of Kazakhstan, and cultural administrator in the Qyzylorda region.

    24. Ruslan Bölebai, a young television journalist who died in 2009.

    25. White Horde (Aq Orda) was a Turkic state on the territory of present-day Kazakhstan in the mid-13thearly 15th centuries. Here the aqyn refers to the White Horde in the sense of the homeland.

    26. Aqyns who competed with Ainur Tursunbaeva.

  • Ref. 10.6
    Aitysh between Aaly Tutkuchev and Qanysha Raisova (excerpt). Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
    View translation
    Aqyngha jarasady almas qylyq,
    Diamond-like [sharp] words befit aqyns,
    Otyrmyz biz önerdi almastyryp.
    We are sitting and exchanging our art.
    Aaly aituly aqyn ekensing ghoy,
    Aaly, I learned that you are a famous aqyn.
    Sözingdi jürersing almas buzyp.
    Your words can destroy even diamonds.
    Maira men Serik syndy köreiikshi,
    Let’s try to compete like Maira and Serik,1
    Ädemi aitystardy jalghastyryp.
    By continuing [the tradition of] beautiful song contests.
    Ardaktuu jengem Qanysham,
    My esteemed jenge,2 Qanysha,
    Siz menen bügün taanysham.
    I will get to know you today.
    Albette Maira, Serik syiaktuu,
    Of course, like Maira and Serik,
    Siz menen bügün jarysham.
    I will compete with you.
    Albette zalkar akynsyz,
    You are indeed a great aqyn.
    Kudaiym kylsa buyruktu,
    If God wills it,
    Arkangyzda kalysham.
    I will lose this contest with you.
    Kudaiym kylsa buyruktu,
    If God wills it,
    Artymdy bir top changytam.
    I will leave you in the dust behind me.
    Egemen kyrgyz kalkymdyn
    I have come to sing
    Aldyna kelip kaldym da.
    Before my independent Kyrgyz people.
    Eldi körüp men bügün
    Seeing the people today
    Ergigensip kaldym da.
    I became inspired.
    Ee, tuugandar, mynakey
    Hey, brothers, you see
    Jyiyylgan jurtum bar mynda.
    My people who are gathered here.
    Bular askasy asman tiregen,
    These people lived in high mountains
    Arkary ak kar jieregen,
    Where the deer dig grass through the snow.
    Ala-Too bashyn jaylashyp,
    Inhabiting the high Ala-Too Mountains,
    Allaga jakyn jaygashyp,
    And thus being close to Allah [God],
    Azattyk kündü tilegen.
    They wished freedom [from the USSR].
    Eng biyik tördü jaylashyp,
    Inhabiting the highest mountains,
    Egeme jakyn jaygashyp,
    And thus being close to the Master [God],
    Egemendikti tilegen.
    They desired independence.
    Kyraandary joodon el korgop,
    Their brave men protected people from their enemy,
    Kylychyn ayga bülögön.
    And sharpened their swords in the moonlight.
    Al emi,
    Koy menen kosho kiyigi,
    Their sheep and deer
    Koroosunda tünögön.
    Slept in the same corral.3
    Butuna bulut orolup,
    They wrapped the clouds around their feet,
    Bulardyn kalpagy tiygen jyldyzka.
    Their kalpaks touched the stars.
    Kabylan Manas tukumu,
    They are the descendants of Manas, the lion.
    Kaygyryp turgan uchuru,
    These days they are sad,
    Karaany toodoy Chyngizka.
    Grieving the loss of Chingiz,4 who was their support, like a mountain.
    Ayla jok eken kanteyin,
    We have no choice but
    Allahym saigan buyrukka
    To submit to Allah’s will.
    Kan tögüp ata-babalar,
    Our ancestors shed their blood [to protect their people]
    Kaltyrgan muras uul-kyzga.
    And left their heritage to their sons and daughters.
    On jeti jylga toluptur
    Today, it has been seventeen years
    Egemendik turmushka.
    Of their independent existence.
    Engkeyip tizem bügülüp,
    By kneeling down and bowing,
    Elge aytam salam jügünüp,
    I greet this people,
    Egemen uluu kyrgyzka.
    The independent and great Kyrgyz [nation].
    Chyn ajal jetip kaygyrgan,
    The Kyrgyz people with white kalpaks lament
    Chyngyzynan ayrylgan,
    The loss of their Chingiz
    Ak kalpak kyrgyz el da arman.
    Who met his real death.
    Jana Maira jengem aytkanday,
    As my Maira jenge said a while ago,
    Kayrylbay ketken tör da arman.
    An uninhabited mountain pasture laments.
    Sizdey ak kuusu kelip konboso,
    If a white swan like you does not land on it,
    Aydyngduu Ysyk-Köl da arman.
    The beautiful Issyk Kul5 laments.
    Jana Rahmatulla menen aityshpay,
    Also, for not having had the chance to compete with Rahmatulla6
    Bal sözünö balkyshpay,
    And thus not having heard his honey-like words,
    Maga kelip tush bolgon,
    But instead for having been assigned to me,
    Ardaktuu jenge sende arman.
    The esteemed jenge, you lament.
    Anan Sara kyz menen bir chykpay,
    And finally, for not singing with the girl, Sara,7
    Kabyrgasynan chymchyshpay,
    And teasing her with words,
    Sizge tush bolgon mende arman.
    For having been assigned to you, I lament.
    Aqyndar onda jinasyn,
    May the aqyns gather
    Öleng men boigha bar küshin.
    The whole power of their essence with song.
    Tanylsyn mening qyrghyzgha,
    May the great power of my soul
    Boiymdaghy nar küshim.
    Be known to the Kyrgyz.
    Jaqsylyqpenen aitaiyn,
    Let me sing with goodwill,
    Jaqsy künnen jarylqasyn.
    May the good [independence] day be blessed.
    Qurmanbek degen ulyng bar,
    You have your son, [President] Kurmanbek,
    Jurtungnyn alghan alghysyn.
    Who received your people’s appreciation.
    Qanatyng menen Rüsteming
    Your Kanat and Rustem8
    Qir shalmatyghyn qarly shyn.
    Are [like] pure snow-white peaks.
    Ölengmen soghyp keteiin,
    Let me build a mountainous monument
    Qyrghyz bauyrlar tauly müsin
    To the Kyrgyz brothers with a song.
    Aq qalpaqty aghaiyn,
    Our kinsmen with the white kalpaks,
    Bauyrlarym armysyng!
    My brothers, my greetings to you!
    Sulayman bayke jaghdaiym qiyndady,
    Uncle Sulayman,9 I am in an awkward position,
    Qanshanyng bir özingiz syiynghany.
    You are admired by many.
    Jaraspas Jetisudan kelgennen song,
    I have come all the way from Jetisu inopportunely
    Balamen bala bolyp süiilghany.
    To compete with the little boy as if I were a boy.
    Rahmetulla qurdaspen shygham degen,
    I wished to compete with Rahmatulla, my contemporary,
    Rahmetulla manglaiyma büiyrmady.
    But Rahmatulla wasn’t assigned to me by fortune.
    Men singlisi em, qaraghym, Sara apanyng,
    My dear, I am a younger sister of aunt Sara,
    Atqandai qyrghyzyna dara tanym.
    And I am like a startling daybreak to the Kyrgyz.
    Qulyndy biesi edim analardyng,
    Like a colt after its mother mare
    Men de seni ilestirip jaratamyn.
    I like to follow you.
    Sakhnagha jengeshe dep shygha kelding,
    You came onto the stage addressing me as jengge,
    Sondyqtan men de äzildi taratamyn.
    So I shall pass around the joke.
    Myna otyrghan qasymda qaiynymdy,
    I shall attract the attention of my qaiyn10 sitting in front of me,
    Esten tandyryp auzyma qaratamyn.
    Making him laugh until he passes out.
    Al onda özing tiisting qaghynyp sen,
    You have started teasing me yourself,
    Özinge-özing myqty bol balapanym.
    Now watch out, my baby bird.


    1. Maira and Serik were a Kyrgyz and Kazakh pair of female and male aqyns who had competed before.

    2. Jenge/jengge: a respected term of address used among the Kyrgyz, Kazakhs, and Uzbeks by a younger brother toward the wife of an older brother. Men call the wife of their older brothers and kinsmen jenge. Kyrgyz have a saying, “One of the thighs of the sister-in-law belongs to her husband’s younger brother” (Jengenin bir sany kaynisiniki). This saying is related to an old practice among the nomadic Kyrgyz and Kazakhs wherein if a woman’s husband died, the woman married her husband’s younger brother to keep the young children in her husband’s family. Mature younger brothers (kayni/qaiyn) often tease their jenges/jengges, who in turn teach them about courtship and marriage. In this aitysh, the young Aaly aqyn is trying to tease his older female opponent by establishing the traditional jenge-kayni relationship.

    3. The aqyn is saying that the Kyrgyz people lived in harmony with nature.

    4. A reference to the Kyrgyz writer Chingiz Aitmatov, who died in 2008.

    5. Issyk Kul: the name of a large mountain lake in northern Kyrgyzstan that is a popular tourist attraction.

    6. Rahmatulla: a middle-aged Kyrgyz aqyn.

    7. Sara is the name of a young Kazakh female aqyn with whom Aaly previously competed in Kazakhstan.

    8. These are two Kyrgyz wrestlers who won the gold and silver medals at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2010.

    9. Here Qanysha is addressing Sulayman Kaiypov, who served as the head of the judges, sitting in the front row to evaluate the aitysh.

    10. Husband’s younger brother or male relative.




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