Audio & Video Tracks | CHAPTER 9

Kyrgyz Wisdom Songs

  • Ref. 9.1
    "Jalgan düynö" (False world)
    Performed by Elmira Köchümkulova.
  • Ref. 9.2
    Terme of Arstanbek
    Performed by Maksat Kuluev.
    View translation
    Bul düynödö ne karyp?
    What is destitute in this world?
    Kiyilbegen böz karyp,
    An unworn cotton cloth is destitute,
    Chiyilbegen söz karyp,
    An unwritten word is destitute,
    Kadyryn jengeng bilbese,
    If a sister-in-law doesn't know her value,1
    Boygo jetken kyz karyp,
    A young maiden is destitute.
    El jakalay konboso,
    If people don't camp on it,
    Betegelüü bel karyp,
    A pasture covered with feather grass is destitute.
    Kaz ördögü bolboso,
    If it has no geese and ducks,
    Aydyng chalkar köl karyp,
    A beautiful lake is destitute.
    Ulugu adil bolboso,
    If the leader is not just,
    Ubara tartat el karyp.
    His people will be destitute.
    Jaltangdyn bashy zoo bolot,
    A shiny cliff has a high peak,
    Jaman menen dos bolsong,
    If you befriend a bad person,
    Akyry bir kün doo bolot.
    One day he will make you indebted.
    Jakshy menen dos bolsong,
    If you befriend a good person,
    Ölgüchöktü kush salat.
    He will go on hunting with you until death.
    Jaman menen dos bolsong,
    If you befriend a bad person,
    Bayagimdy bergin dep,
    He will come after you
    Eki aydan kiyin mush salat.
    After two months and punch you to get his things back.
    Ketse döölöt bashyngdan,
    Once wealth leaves your head,
    Kelmegi kyiyn al kaytyp.
    It will be difficult to bring it back.
    Kele dep kelse beresing,
    When [death] demands [your soul] suddenly,
    Keyitet jandy sargaytyp.
    You feel weak and hopeless.
    Chyrpygyng synsa talyngdan,
    If a branch breaks off a tree,
    Chynar bolboyt al kaytyp.
    It will not grow into a maple tree.
    Chyndap ajal kelgende,
    When real death comes,
    Chykkan jan kelbeyt al kaytyp,
    The departed soul won't return.
    Ötkön ömür uchkan kush,
    The past life is like a bird that has flown away,
    Kolunga kelbeyt al kaytyp.
    And that doesn't land on your hand again.
    Münüshkerge kush jakshy,
    Birds of prey are good for a falcon trainer,
    Jigitterge kyz jakshy.
    Girls are good for young men.
    Til albagan jamanga,
    A fist is better than wise words
    Akyl sözdön mush jakshy.
    For a bad person who doesn't listen.
    Bul düynödö nur jakshy,
    Light is good in this world,
    Bulbuldarga gül jakshy.
    Flowers are good for nightingales.
    Alys sapar jol jürsöng,
    When you set out for a long journey,
    Azemdüü jorgo at jakshy.
    An elegant trotter is good to ride.
    Okusang bilim üyrönüp,
    For reading and learning something,
    Orunduu jazgan kat jakshy.
    A well-written book is good.
    Sarangdardyn minginen,
    One generous man is better
    Jalgyz da bolso mart jakshy.
    Than a thousand stingy men.
    Kebi jaman ayaldan,
    Having typhoid fever is better
    Kelte oorugan dart jakshy.
    Than having a wife with a bad tongue.
    Askar, askar, askar too,
    There is a high snow-capped mountain range
    Ayagy baryp chat bolot.
    Its end becomes a gorge.
    Atadan altoo bolso da,
    If there are six brothers from the same father but they don't invite one another,
    Syilashpasa jat bolot.
    They become strangers to each other.2
    Terektin tübü tyt bolot,
    Mulberries lie under a poplar tree,
    Jaman adam kyrt bolot.
    A bad person has a rude personality,
    Kaaryna kalganda,
    When it is cursed by [God],
    Ak jaydyn künü jut bolot.
    Snow frost occurs in summertime [in a summer pasture].
    Ak bökön kelip chalynat,
    A white saygak is caught,
    Sayatchy aldyn tordoso.
    When hunted by a hunter.
    Iyri jygach tüz bolot,
    A warped timber becomes straight
    Teske salyp ongdoso.
    If one places it between clamps.
    Dushmanyna kor bolot,
    If one humiliates his kinsmen,
    Öz tuuganyn kordoso.
    He will be humiliated by his enemy.
    Bolo turgan jigittin,
    A real young man,
    Jürögündö otu bar.
    Has fire [life force] in his heart.
    Tamdy tesher uurunun,
    A thief has a hatchet
    Saby kyska chotu bar.
    To cut a hole in the house wall.
    Argymak moynun ok keset,
    A bullet kills a stallion,
    Azamat moynun jok keset.
    Poverty kills a young man.3
    Argymaktyn azgany,
    A stallion loses his strength
    Arky-terki baskany.
    From running back and forth in vain.
    Azamattyn azgany,
    A young man loses his strength
    Azapka bashy batkany.
    From too much worry and suffering.
    Azamatta mal jok dep,
    Saying that a young man doesn't have any livestock,
    Joogo tashtap ketpenger.
    Don't leave him to the enemy.
    Argymakta jal jok dep,
    Saying that a stallion doesn't have a mane,
    Jolgo tashtap ketpenger.
    Don't leave him on the road.
    Özöndüü suuga tal bütöt,
    One day, trees will grow on a river bank
    Ölbögön kulga mal bütöt.
    A slave will accumulate livestock.
    Mal bütkönchö ish ketet,
    It takes work and time to raise livestock,
    Aga-ini dos ketet.
    Until then, kinsmen and friends, leave him.
    Kuuray chykpas kuu takyr,
    When tall grass grows on a bare hill
    Kuuray chygyp bergende,
    Where nothing was growing before,
    Kulun churkap ötalbayt.
    A foal won't be able to run through it.
    Mal jyiylgys kuu jakyr,
    When the poor man who never had livestock
    Mal jyiylyp bütköndö,
    Accumulates much livestock,
    Aydap jurtka jetalbayt.
    He won't be able to drive them off to his summer camp.
    Jaman atty buyga min,
    Ride a bad horse for doing work around your house,
    Tünöp kalgan uyga min,
    And for searching for the cows that stayed overnight on the pasture,
    Chalma bir salyp suuga min.
    Put a rope on his neck and ride him to fetch water.
    Ishenimdüü jakshi atty,
    Ride a reliable good horse
    Kötörülgön tuuga min,
    For an earsplitting battle
    Kulak tungan chuuga min.
    Led by a high banner.
    Atyng külük bolgon song,
    If your horse is a racehorse,
    Ashtan-toydon kalgan song,
    But doesn't win races at feasts,
    Külüktügü ne payda?!
    What is the value of his swiftness?
    Alganyn suluu bolgon song,
    If your wife is beautiful,
    Arkyrap betten algan song,
    But yells in your face,
    Suluulugu ne payda?!
    What is the value of her beauty?4


    1. Among the Kyrgyz and Kazakhs, sisters-in-law (jenges) are responsible for finding a match for their husband's younger sisters (kayyn singdis). Kayin singdis share their personal secrets with their sisters-in-law, who in turn give them advice about dating and being a good bride, wife, and daughter-in-law.

    2. This statement has become a proverbial saying.

    3. This statement has become a proverbial saying.

    4. This statement has become a proverbial saying.

  • Ref. 9.3
    "Dünüyö" (World)
    Performed by Roza Amanova.
  • Ref. 9.4
    "Kalk armany" (The people's lament/misfortune)
    Performed by Jengishbek Toktobekov.
    Download text in PDF format View translation
    Kulak toygon köz achka,
    Our ears are full, but our eyes are hungry.
    Kursak toygon tösh achka.
    Our stomachs are full, but our chest [inner spiritual world] is hungry,
    Jashadyk kanday turmushta,
    What a life we lived
    Jardamy jok söz achka.
    With no hope and empty words!
    Jalgan baylyk dep jürüp azyr,
    Chasing after false wealth,
    Jan düynölör ötö achka.
    We became hungry for our spiritual world.
    Algyla anda köngülgö
    Pay attention then to what I say,
    Aytaiyn zaman jönündö
    Let me sing about the time in which we have been living,
    Chyndykty aytat akyndar,
    Aqyns speak the truth
    Chygarbay bir söz tögüngö
    Without saying one false word.
    Bilgenim azby köp bele,
    I know more or less [what happened],
    Bilishim menin shart bele,
    Perhaps, I had to know these things,
    Karegim körböy jakshyny, negedir
    Not seeing the good, somehow
    Kaygyga batty jash dene.
    My young body sank into sorrow.
    Let me tell you from the beginning,
    Bashynan aytyp keleyin
    We saw everything [that happened] and
    Baarysyn kördük kalp debe.
    don't say that I'm wrong.
    SSSR kulap kyrgyzga
    Not too long ago, the USSR collapsed
    Keche ele, Egemen tangy atty ele
    And the dawn of independence shone on the Kyrgyz.
    El bilgen ajo kerek dep,
    We said that we need a leader who knows the people.
    Erendin baary birigip
    All the intellectuals got together
    Es-akylyn chakty ele.
    And brainstormed.
    Ichinen biröö tandalyp
    From among them, one was liked
    Ilimpoz jaktan jakty ele.
    As he was a man of science [i.e., Askar Akaev]
    Iririn bilseng atting ay,
    Alas, if we had only known that he would rot.
    Ilimde jürsö jakshy ele.
    It would have been better had he stayed in academia.
    Ajo bol kyrgyz elge dep,
    It was Aytmatov who told him to be the president
    Aytmatov bagyn achty ele.
    And thus brought fortune to his head.
    Korkposton somdu kirgizip
    He [Akaev] introduced the som without hesitation.
    Gerb menen tuubuz ilinip,
    And our new state emblem and flag were hung.
    Akyly bir az bilinip,
    He showed some intelligence,
    Arbytyp joldu basty ele,
    And made some progress in his work.
    Internet jagyn köböytüp,
    He increased use of the Internet
    Iyneden közdü tapty ele.
    And found the eye of a needle.
    Manas 1000 atyn chygaryp,
    He made the one thousandth anniversary of the epic Manas famous,
    Maaniker minip chapty ele.
    And rode the horse Maaniker.1
    Chykebizge tayanyp,
    Relying on our Chike [Chingiz Aitmatov],
    Chet elden dostu tapty ele.
    He found friends abroad.
    Janynda jaynap jürgöndör,
    Those many people who worked in his office
    Jakyn bele kas bele.
    Were not clear whether they were his friends or enemies.
    Kymynday shekti bildirbey
    Very secretly and quietly
    Kumtördün kenin kazdy ele.
    He had dug the gold of Kumtör and
    Yrbatyp ulam jarany,
    Hurt people's wound
    Yrysyn eldin chachty ele.
    By giving away people's fortune.
    Üch jolu shayloo ötkörüp
    By holding an election three times,
    Üch jolu mingen takty ele.
    He sat on the throne three times.
    Ürtük köz kytay maktasa
    When the slant-eyed Chinese praised him,
    Üzöngü-Kuushtu satty ele.
    He sold Üzöngü-Kuush2 to them.
    Akyyikat aytsa sulatyp, tigil
    He shot the people of Aksy dead to the ground
    Aksynyn elin atty ele.
    When they spoke the truth.
    Shayloonun shaytan oynunan,
    Due to the satanic game of the election
    Shashylysh künü batty ele.
    His days were quickly over,
    Manastyn jeri bütkönsüp,
    And as if the land of Manas were finished,
    Moskvaga közdöy kachty ele.
    He fled toward Moscow.
    Eskisin antip aydadyk,
    So, in this way, we chased away the old leader, and,
    Es-akyly durus dep, anan
    Believing that he was smarter and wiser,
    Ekinchisin shayladyk.
    We elected the second one [Kurmanbek Bakiev],
    Ayantka cheyin toy kylyp,
    Organized a big feast on the main square,
    Ayabay any mayladyk.
    And celebrated with such excitement.
    "Uluu, Urmattuu, Aziret" dep,
    We began using big words,
    Ukmushtuu sözdü kamdadyk.
    Addressing him as "His Highness, His Honor."
    Kalkybyz bashta bilbeptir,
    Our people didn't know in the beginning
    Kalaaryn tügöl aldanyp.
    That they would be betrayed completely.
    Chyrkyratyp jyl ötpöy,
    Not even a year had passed,
    Chymynday janga küch boldu,
    And all who criticized his work Faced a difficult fate.
    Chyndykty aytkan baarysyn
    All who told the truth
    Chynjyrluu küngö tush boldu.
    Faced jail with their hands shackled.
    A birok Ak Jol partiya,
    He created the new political party Ak-Jol [White Road]
    Akyikattyn chin jüzü,
    But forgot that the real face of Justice
    Ak ekenin unuttu.
    Is white.
    Tartyp alma mansabyng,
    He forgot that wealth looted from people
    Kara ekenin unuttu.
    Is dirty.
    Baaryna kalys kudaydyn,
    He forgot that there was a God
    Bar ekenin unuttu.
    Who was witness to everything.
    Zamanga jakshy kalyng jurt,
    He forgot that the whole nation
    Zar ekenin unutttu.
    Was longing for a place to relax.
    Karkyra jayloo jaktardy,
    The summer pastures in Karkyra,
    Kadimki pansionattardy,
    The summer resorts [in Issik-Kul],
    Kazakka berip kuruttu.
    He gave them all to the Kazakhs.
    Nur jaagan kyrgyz elinen,
    Or was Nursultan ["Sultan of Light"—the first name of the president of Kazakhstan] greater than
    Nursultan emne ulukpu?
    Your light-shining Kyrgyz people?
    "A" tamga kachyp ketkeni,
    The letter "A" fled from the country,
    Arbybady eldin ech jeri.
    But people's lives didn't get any better.
    Körsö "B" tamgaga jagyptyr,
    It turned out that the letter "B" [Bakiev]
    Murunku "A" tamganin
    Liked the notebook [record of bribes]
    Kaltyryp ketken depteri.
    Left by the letter "A" [Akaev].
    Manastyn yiyk mekenin,
    Such mankurts3 came and stamped on
    Mankurttar kelip tepsedi.
    The sacred land of Manas.
    Jeti atasy barktagan,
    They sold the land revered by their seven forefathers,
    Jerin satty jetpedi.
    But that wasn't enough.
    Kelechek üchün katylgan,
    They sold the gold reserved for the future,
    Kenin satty jetpedi.
    But that wasn't enough.
    Kalk aldynda kalp aytyp,
    Telling lies before the public,
    Kebin satty jetpedi.
    They sold their empty words, but that wasn't enough.
    Uluttun tilin kor kylyp,
    He humiliated the national language,
    Ukmushtun baaryn chong kylyp,
    By appointing big shots who knew [no Kyrgyz].
    Tilin satty jetpedi.
    He sold the language, but that wasn't enough.
    Kep-sözüngdü urbaym dep,
    Ignoring people's concerns and
    Kerek bolso puldaym dep,
    In order to make money,
    GESin satty jetpedi.
    He sold the GES [hydroelectric station in Toktogul].
    Amerikaga külmüngdöp,
    Grinning at the Americans,
    Orustarga ming süylöp,
    Promising a thousand words to the Russians,
    Betin satty jetpedy.
    He sold his face, but that wasn't enough.
    Ala-Toonun baylygyn,
    He loaded on his back the entire wealth of Ala-Too,
    Tartyp aldy jetpedi.
    But that wasn't enough.
    Tarazalap biröönün,
    He took away the food
    Tapkan ashyn, emgegin,
    Of people who earned it with their hard work,
    Tartyp aldy jetpedi.
    But that wasn't enough.
    Telefondon da tyiyndy,
    He even took [60] tyyyn from every mobile phone conversation,
    Kalpyp aldy jetpedi.
    But that wasn't enough.
    A tügül agyp jatkan dayradan,
    Not even that, they stole the water
    Suu uurdashty jetpedi.
    From the flowing [Naryn] river, but that wasn't enough.
    Akyry kyrgy chydabay,
    Finally, the Kyrgyz have had enough and
    Ak üydü közdöy bettedi.
    Marched towards the White House.
    Oylonup körböy jakshylap, alar
    But, without thinking carefully,
    Ok menen menen kirdi atkylap.
    He began shooting at the people one by one.
    Bir kezde ushul Ak üydü
    He had said in the past
    Avtomat menen korgoym dep,
    That he would protect the White House with a machine gun.
    Aytkany közgö tartylat.
    He had said these words [on TV].
    Kyiyldy kayran jigitter,
    Many noble young men fell to the ground
    Kyiylgan symal bak kulap.
    Like trees being chopped down.
    Kalk üchün küyüp ayantka, jalang
    Only the beloved sons of ordinary people
    Karapaiym elderdin
    Who cared for people's well-being
    Karaldary baryshty.
    Went to the main square.
    Korgoshundan korkposton,
    Not fearing the bullets,
    Korgodu eldik namysty.
    They fought for people's honor.
    As you saw,
    Karaan kün tüshkön al jerge
    The so-called cream of society,
    Kakshanyp kalkym degendin
    The well-known eloquent politicians
    Kaymagy baryp ölgön jok,
    Who always said "my people,"
    Sayatchynyn sayragan
    Did not go there and
    Salmagy baryp ölgön jok.
    Die at that tragic place.
    Baatyrmyn degen chongdordun
    The children of big shots who consider themselves heroes
    Baldary baryp ölgön jok.
    Didn't go and die there.
    Bashka uluttun biri da
    None of the other ethnic groups
    Batynyp korduk körgön jok.
    Dared to go there and suffer.
    Jalang kyrgy jyieyldy,
    Only the Kyrgyz gathered and
    Jalang kyrgyz kyryldy.
    Only the Kyrgyz were massacred.
    Tike karap ajalga,
    They looked straight at death and
    Titiretti kylymdy.
    Shook the world.
    Ata-Jurt üchün, el üchün,
    They died fighting for justice and
    Akka moynu sunuldu.
    For the sake of their fatherland and people.
    Uluu joldu ulayly,
    Oh, my Kyrgyz,
    Let's continue on our great path,
    Uchuna jetip maksattyn.
    Let's reach our goal together.
    Uluttu bölgön küchtör bar,
    There are forces that divide the nation,
    Ukpayly sözün akmaktyn,
    Let's not listen to the words of the wicked.
    Eneng kyrgyz bolgon song,
    Your mother is Kyrgyz,
    Eldi bölsön akmaksyng.
    You are a bastard if you divide the people.
    Jeteng kyrgyz bolsong song,
    Your seventh forefather was Kyrgyz,
    Jerdi bölsöng akmaksyng.
    You are a bastard if you divide the land.
    Tündük-tüshtük degendin,
    May the wishes of those
    Tilekterin tash kapsyn.
    Who divide the people into "north" and "south" crash!
    Jaraksyz kepti ukkanda,
    When I hear such nonsense words,
    Jan düynö bolot jaradar.
    My inner world is wounded.
    Öz elin bölüp jürgöndör,
    Dividing one's own people
    Özünün ölgönü menen barabar
    Is like one's own death.
    Jeti atasynyn söögün mürzödön
    It's like separating one's seven forefathers' bones
    Bölgönü menen barabar.
    From their grave.
    Dagy aytsam sözdün yrasyn,
    If I tell a more bitter truth,
    Dartyman alsyz kubatym.
    My life energy will become weaker than my illness.
    Kokuylar tepse üstünön,
    Pressured from above,
    Kor boldu madaniyatyng.
    Our culture suffered.
    Oluttuu nerse jazylbay,
    With no serious works being written,
    Oor boldu adabiyatyng.
    Our literature suffered.
    Belgilüü jazuuchularyng,
    Our renowned writers
    Belgilüü gezit arkyluu
    Revealed one another's petty sins
    Bir-birin kazdy uyatyn.
    By writing in popular newspapers.
    Jaydak sözdü jazyshpay,
    Instead of light works, I wish they had written
    Jalpyga arnap chygarma,
    Good works for a common cause,
    Jaiyshsa deysing kulachyn.
    And thus moved people ahead.
    Aksakal narky bolboso,
    If writers aren't respected as elders,
    Alardy kantip ugasyng.
    How can you follow their advice?
    Karylarga tang kalam,
    I'm surprised at our elders,
    Kayra turup ardanam.
    And I feel embarrassed for them because
    Kyiynchylyk uchurda
    They could not say their just words
    Kalys söz ayta albagan.
    At difficult times.
    Manas dep ming köz tursa da,
    Ignoring the thousand eyes that looked up at Manas,
    Maksimdin közün tandagan.
    They considered Maksim's eyes [Bakiev's son] to be beautiful.4
    Kalkym, emi
    My people,
    Kalp, kaygyny jyibayly,
    Let's not collect lies and sadness.
    Konstitutsiya degendi,
    Let's not turn our Constitution
    Khanstitutsiya kylbayly.
    Into a "Khanstitution."5
    Jamaachylabay jyl saiyn,
    Let's not change it every year, but
    Jalpybyz toluk syilayly.
    Respect it all together.
    Myizamyng tuura ishtese,
    If the Law functions well,
    Mung-zaryng bolboyt turbayby.
    We won't have any complaints.
    Tuura biyde tuugan jok,
    A just ruler doesn't bring his relatives to power,
    Tuuganchyl biyde yiman jok.
    A ruler who brings his kinsmen has no faith.
    Jakynyngdy kyiyn dep,
    If you say that your kinsman is smart,
    Jakyndatpa janynga,
    Don't let him come close to you.
    Kim kyiyn menden ele dep,
    If you say that no one is smarter than you,
    Kirbesin shaytan kanynga.
    Don't let Satan get into your blood.
    Kalaiyk jardam kylyshat,
    People will help you in your work
    Kalystyk kylsang baaryna.
    If you are just to everyone.
    Jakshylykty kylbasang,
    You aren't kind,
    Jantalashyp talap jep,
    But steal as much as you can,
    Jalang baylyk jyinasang,
    And accumulate much wealth,
    Kalasyng eldin kaaryna.
    You will be the object of people's wrath.
    Bata emes kargysh kuyulup,
    Only curses instead of blessings will pour on you.
    Bata albay meken tamynga.
    You won't fit in your own land,
    Barganyng bilbey kalasyng,
    And won't notice how quickly
    Tigi Lukashenkonun janyna.
    You will find yourself next to Lukashenko.6
    Emi körüngön jakka alynbay,
    Now, let's not give in to all kinds of provocations.
    Bir jalyndyn tabynday,
    Like the warmth of one flame,
    Bir denenin janynday,
    Like the soul of one body,
    Bir tamyrdyn kanynday,
    Like the blood of one vein,
    Yymanduu bashchy tabylyp,
    By finding a faithful leader,
    Yntymaktuu jashayly, kalkym
    Let's live in unity,
    Bir kamchynyn sabynday.
    Like the handle of one horse whip.


    1. Maaniker is the name of a racing horse in the Manas epic.

    2. The name of a mountain glacier on the border between China and Kyrgyzstan, which the Kyrgyz government sold to China as a source of water.

    3. Mankurt: a reference to mindless slaves, made famous in Chingis Aitmatov's novel, A Day Lasts Longer than a Century.

    4. Here Jengishbek refers to the statement of a well-known senior Kyrgyz doctor, who said that Maksim, president Bakiev's son, had beautiful eyes. The doctor's view was the opposite of that espoused by many Kyrgyz, who thought that he had a cold look and scary eyes.

    5. The combination of "khan" and "constitution," referring to Bakiev and his family as having total control over the country and its people.

    6. The president of Belarus, who has alienated almost all former allies and who offered asylum to the deposed Kyrgyz president Bakiev.




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