H.B. Paksoy

Let the scholars hear my wisdom
Treating my word as a dastan, attain their desires.
Ahmet Yesevi (d. 1167)

Dastan (jir, ir, chorchok) is ornate oral history, common among the peoples of Central Asia. It conveys the revered and cherished value systems from one generation to the next over millennia. It is part of the permanent record of a people or a confederation. It lives on as a unifying charter in the consciousness of the people whose lives and exploits gave birth to it. It is the national anthem, birth certificate and literary heritage of its owners. It provides the framework to bond a coherent oymak, the ancestral unit, a division of a greater confederation. Members of the oymak share one language, religion and history. The name of the oymak serves as the surname of an individual (seen among those who fled the Bolsheviks in the 1920s and refugees fleeing Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion of 1979).

The influence and authority of the dastan --as well as the reverence in which it is held-- are shown by Yesevi's quotation above. Even an influential sufi leader such as Ahmet Yesevi (from the city of Yese in Central Asia) saw the need to elevate his teachings to the level of a dastan. This reference by Yesevi points to the established tradition of keeping alive and disseminating important information through dastans. The dastan has also been used at various times to propagate religious ideas or doctrines, although the genre in its original form is not religious.

In the Altai region, the tradition of "expression and celebration of ancestral exploits and identity" first appears in a series of stelea. Apparently the earlier Altaians did not have a need to affix a label to the genre. In early 8th century, the ruler Bilge Kagan in the Kul Tegin stelas states: "Bu sabimin adguti asid, qatigdi tinla" ("Hear these words of mine well, and listen hard!"). Some three hundred years later, Kashgarli Mahmut, in his Diwan Lugat at-Turk (1070s) uses the word saw (sab, sav) to indicate proverbs, messages and admonitions handed down by wise men. About a century after Kashgarli Mahmut, Ahmet Yesevi (d. 1167) wrote: "Let the scholars hear my wisdom/ Treating my word as a dastan, attain their desires." This is the earliest recorded mention so far found to refer to the label dastan in Central Asia.

The prevailing designations in the Altai, such as jir (as in batirlik jiri) and chorchok suggest that the genre may have been called dastan further to the West. The contents, format and intent have remained essentially the same. The dastan, in most cases, is named for the alp (or batir), the central figure or hero, who may be male or female, e.g. Oghuz Khan, Manas, Koroglu, Kirk Kiz. At other times, the term batir or alp is appended to the name: Kambar Batir, Chora Batir, Alp Er Tunga, Alpamysh.

Over a period of millennia the neighboring Altaic/Turk, Indian and Persian literary genres in Central Asia came into contact and may have influenced each other. Since the study of these genres are by and large in their infancy, it is too early to venture authoritative opinions on these aspects.

Dastans commemorate the deeds of fearless and capable men and women. They rise from among the people when critically important tasks need to be performed. Often this task is to fight for the independence of a polity, or group of polities which we now refer to as confederation. The exploits of these battle-tested alps on behalf of their people are celebrated and immortalized by reciters known as the ozan (some of whom composed dastans). Almost always the ozan (sometimes known as bahshi, kam or shaman) will accompany himself with a musical instrument known as kopuz.

During the 19th century, the Western scholarly world initially came into contact with the Altaic Ornate Oral History tradition, though without full knowledge of its actual origins. It was in the Westernmost edges of the Asian continent that these works were encountered in manuscript form by the Western observers, and carried into Europe. The first work to receive such recognition was Dede Korkut. It caught the attention of H. F. Von Diez, who published a partial German translation in 1815. It was based on the manuscript found in the Royal Library of Dresden. The only other manuscript of Dede Korkut was discovered during 1950 by Ettore Rossi in the Vatican library. Until Dede Korkut was put on paper, the date of which is not known, it survived in the oral tradition at least from the 9th and 10th centuries. Moreover, the "Bamsi Beyrek" chapter of Dede Korkut preserves another immensely popular Altaic work, Alpamysh, dating from even an earlier time. Between 1916 and 1988, Dede Korkut was issued in at least sixteen major editions. Alpamysh was printed no less than 55 times between 1899 and 1984.

Koroglu was "discovered" next. During 1842, Alexander Borejko Chodzko in London published Specimens of the Popular Poetry of Persia as Found in "Kurroglu." He did not realize the true origin of the work. Chodzko took some liberties with his translation, and since he did not have prior studies to guide him, could not place the work in perspective.

The next person to devote energies to the field was a German, Friedrich Wilhelm Radloff. After earning his doctorate at Jena in 1858, he moved to the Russian empire. Between 1859 and 1871, Radloff spent a great deal of time in the Altai region, especially in and around Barnaul. One of the results of this activity was his Proben. The full title, in both Russian and German, fills an entire page. Eighteen volumes appeared between 1866 and 1907. Ten of them contain the original Turkic texts as collected and presented by Radloff. The remainder are partial translations into German or Russian. In due course, Radloff committed some scholarly sins: he failed to include full texts, only fragments; he omitted the location where he collected the materials and names of reciters; he used contrived alphabets in recording the works which obscure pronunciations and render tracing a word arduous. Moreover, he utilized the term "South Siberian" when referring to the collective works, even though he was in the Altai proper.

Considered scholarship on the genre in English continued in 1977 with the publication of The Memorial Feast for Kokotoy Khan, by Arthur T. Hatto; Maadi Kara by Ugo Marai in 1986; and Alpamysh during 1989. An introductory study on Chora Batir was published in 1986. Almost all of those works were first transcribed and in some cases published by individuals of Altaian origin. One of the earliest Altaians to spend energies in saving these gems was Chokan Velikhan[ov] (1835-1865). The Memorial Feast for Kokotoy Khan was in fact translated from a manuscript of Velikhan. Another influential scholar was a baptized Altaian, Katanov (1862-1922), who taught at the Kazan University from 1893. A third important figure in the field is Abubekir Ahmedjan Divay[ev] (1855-1933), whose final posts included the Professorship of Ethnography in Tashkent at the time of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution.

The theory that all major Altaian works of this type, under the designation of dastans, are but a restructuring of the fragments of a "mother dastan" has been advanced by A. Inan. According to this theory, Oghuz Kagan is the first dastan and throughout the ages fragments of it have been salvaged from obscurity and embellished by new experiences of other tribes of common ancestry.

The foregoing represents only a small fraction of the Altaic and Central Asian Ornate Oral History tradition. As far as can be determined, there are at least fifty mainstream works of this type, exclusive of their variants. Some have been issued in other languages, such as Oghuz Han, edited by Z. V. Togan; Koblandi Batir; Kambar Batir and Manas which are not yet available in English. They range from eight thousand to sixty thousand words each, with the full text of Manas going over half a million lines. It is of note that the Altaians in the 20th century have also been engaged in collection and publication of their heritage. The problem of access to the field notes, and in some cases the printed works, remain.

What lies at the heart of the genre? Broadly formulated: The jir, chorchok, or dastan typically depicts the travails of the alp to secure the freedom of his people from invaders or enemies. The alp's trials and tribulations aggravated by one or more traitors, are in due course alleviated by a full supporting cast. Nor is the theme of love a stranger to the plot. Often a central figure, the loved one, is abducted by the enemy. There are attempts by the foes and traitors to extort favors from the lovers. In the end, rescue is effected after much searching, fighting and sacrifice.

In spite of the suffering of the alp and the might of the enemy, in the end the people are freed. The alp's exemplary character, bravery, strength, and superhuman determination are responsible, not magic or divine intervention (when such features are present, the variation displays "degeneration"). Freedom is invariably celebrated with a lavish toy (feast) and festivities. The traitors, frequently from the same tribe as the alp, collaborate with the enemy or abuse the trust of their people and their leaders. They are now and then executed for their sins, but customarily forgiven and allowed to roam the earth in search of reconciliation between themselves and their creator.

In all cases, the jir or chorchok was composed by an ozan. and only under two circumstances: (A) when a major new alp successfully concludes the feats proper to his calling and it is time to celebrate his exploits; (B) when the possessors of a given dastan are threatened by an outsider. Generally, the contents of ornate oral histories are jealously guarded against any major textual changes. For a given version, not even the minor details are permitted to be dropped or changed by the ozan. It is conceivable that the audience may participate in the creation of the new ornate oral history, just as they serve as a judge of the authenticity and completeness of an old one. The listeners are continually evaluating the performance and verifying its contents, comparing it to other recitations.

Reference to similar past experiences is standard and reinforces the very important link to earlier works of the kind. Motifs or whole episodes from earlier jir may be repeated in new jirs or chorchok. In the event that the heirs of a jir or chorchok face new threats to their freedom, the importance of the particular work is reinforced. Should the enemy somehow prevail over the oymak, the jir, by providing an unbreakable link to the past, affords the inspiration to seek independence once again. The fact that more than one oymak may identify with a given work has far-reaching implications.

Nor can the contents be dismissed as "folklore." In the case of Koroglu, as well as Chora Batir, there are sufficient internal references to reveal the identity of true historical characters. Both alps have left behind legacies traceable in chancery papers of several states. In other words, we have access to historical documents which allow us to determine the alps that were the models of those jirs. Consequently, the ornate oral history designation for this genre seems more than appropriate.

Since the alp's activities are beyond the reach of ordinary people, his attributes be compared to natural phenomena. Thus the alp can run as swiftly as lightning; his hair glows as bright as the sun; his body is as sturdy as the strongest tree; his punch mightier than a thunderbolt. Such "nature imagery" draws upon the values of shamanism, the dominant belief system of Central Asian Turks prior to the arrival of Islam during the 8th century A. D. Moreover, the use of the term bahshi (also ozan) designating the reciter of the jir also has shamanistic connotations. Later religious motifs, beliefs and practices are juxtaposed as additional layers, and can be easily identified.

The idea of marking important events with versified narrations or songs is not new. Each significant event in the lives of Central Asians had its own type of "marker" song. The suyunju (bearer of good news) celebrated good news, including the birth of the alp, especially after a tribe or individual had experienced difficulties. The yar-yar ("Dear, my dear" or, "Darling, my darling") was sung at weddings. More than merely celebrating the union of the bride and groom, it also signalled the beginning of other courtships at the wedding feast. The koshtau (entering into the fray) was sung on the departure of the alp for a campaign. The estirtu (literally, "the wind has blown") was sung when an alp's death was announced. The yogtau (yugtau: the "absence") was sung at yog (yug) ashi, the memorial feast after burial to lament the death of the alp. Combined and arranged sequentially, these components constitute the literary structure of the jir (chorchok).

During extended periods of relative stability, some of the ornate oral histories may "spin off" their lyrical parts, thus allowing the creation of new romantic dastans. In this case, the motifs related to the fight to throw off the yoke of an invading oppressor are subordinated to the romantic portions of a dastan. Lyrical dastans may also have been converted, or simplified into masal or folk tales, perhaps intended to be used much like nursery rhymes, recited to cranky children to help pass the long winter nights.

Because the dastans reflect a close relationship between a people and their literature, various propagandists have sought to utilize the dastans as platforms to carry new messages. Various Islamic propagators attempted to inject their religious philosophy into a number of dastans in the hope of making the newcomer religion to Central Asia more palatable. For example, "invisible saints" were added to help the alp to overcome especially difficult problems. Although not all the attempted additions to the dastans were received favorably, these efforts helped popularize new genres, such as the menkibe. This is a genre devoted to the exploits of the Islamic warriors, and is often couched in supernatural tones. Thematically and structurally, the menkibe is found primarily in the Middle East, in Arabic, Persian or other local languages.

After the Russian invasion and occupation of Central Asia, the local populace vehemently opposed the new alien invader and began collecting and publishing the dastans. In doing so, a few embedded new layers of religious references. Others, believing that the dastans ought to be preserved in their original format and intent, worked in the other direction and weeded out religious references before publishing them.

The dastans were used in their customary way against Russian power during the 1916-1930 Turkistan Liberation Movement, called by the Russians the Basmachi Movement (SEE THE ENTRY BASMACHI, Volume 4). One of the principal leaders of The Turkistan National Liberation Movement, Z. V. Togan noted:

.... after the proliferation of cotton planting in Ferghana [imposed by the tsarist state at the expense of cereal cultivation] the economic conditions deteriorated further. This increased brigandage. Among earlier Basmachi, as was the case [in the 16th century] earlier, the spiritual leader of the Ozbek and Turkmen bands was Koroglu. Basmachi of Bukhara, Samarkand, Jiakh and Turkmen gathered at nights to read Koroglu and other dastans [ornate oral histories]. What has the external appearance of brigandage is actuality a reflection and representation of the thoughts and spirit of a wide segment of the populace. Akchuraoglu Yusuf Bey reminds us that during the independence movements of the Serbians, the "hoduk;" the "kleft;" and "palikarya" of the Greeks comprised half nationalist revolutionaries and half brigands.

The majority and the most influential of the Basmachi groups founded after 1918 did not at all follow the Koroglu tradition, but were composed of serious village leadership and sometimes the educated. Despite that, all were labelled Basmachi. Consequently, in Turkistan, these groups were regarded as partisans; more especially representing the guerilla groups fighting against the colonial power. Nowadays, in the Ozbek and Kazakh press, one reads about Chinese, Algerian and Indian Basmachi [the references are to the respective anti-colonial movements]."

The struggle did not end with the Soviet take-over. Central Asians strove to preserve, and Bolsheviks to destroy, the dastans. The Russian Bolshevik apparatus tried to graft its own message onto the dastans. A few individual Central Asian ozans were persuaded to compose new "dastans" to extol the virtues of some Lenin kolkhoz, or the glories of a Soviet tractor. In 1925, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union resolved: "...As the class war in general has not ended, neither has it ended on the literary front. In a class society there is not, nor can there be neutral art...." In that decade and the next, dastans were collected by the authorities in order to be hidden away; reciters were killed. At the same time, Central Asian intellectuals began cleansing added elements and publishing the dastans in forms as close as possible to their originals. Many paid with their lives. The message of that era was, once again, freedom.

The "Trial of Alpamysh" by the Soviet authorities reflects the continuation of this policy despite the Soviet "thaw" of the 1950s. It is discussed in Alpamysh (1989; see Sources), quoting the stenographic record:

Perhaps the most decisive event was the decision of the 20th Party Congress (1956), "in the name of Soviet science and especially Soviet folklore studies," to convene an investigative conference on the Alpamysh dastan "in order to bring to a close these dogmatisms, commentaries and theoretical problems and once and for all to investigate these matters in detail and come to a decision." Thus a regional conference was held from 20-25 September 1956 in Tashkent, co-sponsored by the Gorkii Institute and the (Tashkent) Pushkin Institute, the purpose of which was "reconciling the studies [of Alpamysh] with party directives."

The conflict between the Soviet state and those Central Asians who managed to "rescue" native culture during the most repressive eras is reflected in later encyclopedia entries. The Dastan entry in the Ozbek Soviet Encyclopedia describes the form and antiquity of the genre. It refers to Alpamysh; Kutadgu Bilig, and other works which extol the virtues of native Central Asian populations, as opposed to advocating adherence to a religion. By contrast, the brief entry in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia (Moscow), refers only to "Persian epic genre; among which the Book of Dede Korkut is an example." It states that "Firdousi's Shahnama is one such work." Firdousi produced his famed Shahnama from the fragments of earlier pre-Islamic Persian oral works. He did this for political purposes, and his effort is credited with resuscitating Persian cultural values against the Islamic and Arabic culture. Most of the surviving Persian dastans are perhaps spinoffs from the immense Shahnama.

The dastans were considered by the Soviet authorities to be fostering independence currents in contrast to the "Soviet Person" policy. Many years after Stalin and his methods were repudiated, neither Alpamysh nor Dede Korkut was widely available in print in the Soviet Union. In 1988, Professor Zemfira Verdiyeva in Baku stated: "...Beowulf is always waiting for its purchasers in the shops of England. And in which shops have we seen our own Dede Korkut?" It is known that even the manuscript of the Koroglu was concealed not only from the population at large, but from specialized researchers. The case of Chora Batir is similar. Alpamysh was not immune to a similar treatment during 1986. Available versions had often been manipulated or, in the words of one Soviet translator of dastans, "refined," in order to weaken the heroic impact.

The Central Asian authors quoted or emulated these dastans outright, while writing their "historical fiction" of the 1970s and 1980s. Those novels, containing historically correct footnotes, were not published to demonstrate submission. The use of these dastans as source material further discloses the familiarity of the novelists and their readers' with the liberation aspects of these dastans. The Communist Party also knew this and attacked these works and their authors.

Nonetheless, dastans proliferated in new media as well: cassettes for tape-recorders appeared at the same time as the "historical fiction." These developments point, yet again, to the power and glory of the tradition of a literary genre and the very close relationship a people has with its heritage. The following poem, published in Muhbir (Journal of the Central Committee of the Ozbek Writers Union, Tashkent) during 1982 perhaps attests to the vitality of dastans:

Give me a chance, my rebellious dreams My father erected his statue in my memory May years and winds be rendered powerless May his legacy not be erased from my conscience

Give me a chance, my rebellious dreams Grant my father a sacred dastan May years and winds be rendered powerless May his memory never be allowed to fade.


Ahmet Yesevi's Hikmet has been published many times, inter alia, in St. Petersburg and Istanbul. It has been immensely influential in Asia and the Middle East, even in manuscript form, since its composition in the 12th century. For this entry, the following source is used: K. Eraslan, Hikmet (Ankara, 1983). For a consideration of the translated versions of Dede Korkut, see H. B. Paksoy, "Introduction to Dede Korkut" (As Co-Editor) Soviet Anthropology and Archeology Vol. 29, No. 1. Summer 1990. Cf. H. B. Paksoy, Editor, Central Asia Reader (Armonk, New York: M. E. Sharpe, 1993).

Although difficult to classify as a dastan as suggested by the Ozbek Soviet Encyclopedia, Kashgarli Mahmut's 11th century work Diwan Lugat at-Turk is available as A Compendium of Turkic Dialects through the translation of Robert Dankoff with J. Kelly (Cambridge, MA, 1982-1985). A similar argument may be made for Kutadgu Bilig (written in c. 1077) by Balasagunlu Yusuf. It was rendered into English by Robert Dankoff as Wisdom of Royal Glory (Chicago, 1983). The Kultigin funerary tablets were erected in early 8th century. Their original texts and English translations are found in T. Tekin, A Grammar of Orkhon Turkic (Bloomington, 1968) Indiana University Uralic and Altaic Series, Vol. 69.

The Oghuz Khan, perhaps the oldest mother dastan of Central Asia, is not yet available in English. The most authoritative version is Z. V. Togan, Oguz Destani: Resideddin Oguznamesi, Tercume ve Tahlili (Istanbul, 1972), a composite volume of Oguz Destani, which did not come down to us in its entirety, but in fragments, and not in the original Turkish, but in translated excerpts found in historical works of the medieval period. Another early mother dastan, probably a component of Oghuz Khan is Ergenekon, a new edition of which was prepared by N. Ural (Ankara, 1972). The 16th century Secere-i Terakime also went through a series of translations. For details, see H. B. Paksoy, "Introduction to Dede Korkut" reference above.

The term alp is used interchangeably with batir, batur, bagatur meaning "valiant," "gallant," "brave" as attributes of a skilled and fearless champion tested in battle or contest. See Sir Gerard Clauson, An Etymological Dictionary of Pre-Thirteenth-Century Turkish (Oxford, 1972), 127. See also the entry "Batir," in John Hangin, A Concise English-Mongolian Dictionary (Indiana, 1970), 270.

Kimiz is fermented mare's milk. It is a very popular traditional drink among Central Asians. See The Book of Dede Korkut Geoffrey L. Lewis, Tr.; and Kashgarli Mahmut, Kitab Diwan Lugat at Turk.

The reciter, ozan, accompanied himself with a musical instrument referred to as kobuz or kopuz. A descendant of kopuz is still known and used as saz or baglama in Asia Minor. A representative sample may be seen in the Pitt-Rivers Museum, Oxford. For a full description, with photographs, see Bolat Saribaev, Kazaktin Muzikalik Aspaptari (Alma-Ata, 1978). Also Doerfer, "Turkische und Mongolische Elemente," Neupersischen III (Wiesbaden, 1967), 1546. The reciter of dastans at various locations and time periods, had other duties as well. See Fuat Koprulu, "Ozan," in Azerbaycan Yurt Bilgisi No. 3. 1932. In The Book of Dede Korkut, the bard is called an ozan. See the translation by G. L. Lewis (Penguin, 1974). Such a person is also called bahshi, akin, ashik, shaman, kam in various locations.

W. Radloff, in his Proben der Volksliterature der turkischen Stamme Sud-Sibiriens St. Petersburg, 1866-1907) 18 Vols. provided, although most of them fragmentary, quite a few variants and examples of dastans. Ten volumes contain the texts in the original dialects, and eight their German or Russian translations. However, the collection must be used with due caution. A condensed version is available: V. V. Radloff, South Siberian Oral Literature Denis Sinor, Editor (Bloomington and The Hague, 1967). Indiana University Uralic and Altaic Series, Vol.79. Radloff also compiled a dictionary along the same lines: Varsuch eines worterbuches der Turk-dialecte, re-issued with the introduction of Omeljan Pritsak ('s-Gravenhage: Mouton, 1960). 4 Vols.

A number of dastans are available in English: The Book of Dede Korkut: A Turkish Epic. Faruk Sumer, Ahmet E. Uysal and Warren S. Walker, Eds. (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1991). Second Edition; The Book of Dede Korkut. Geoffrey L. Lewis, Tr. (London, 1974); A. T. Hatto, Tr. The Memorial Feast for Kokotoy Khan (Kokotoydun Asi: A Kirghiz Epic Poem). (Oxford, 1977). London Oriental Series, Volume 33; H. B. Paksoy, ALPAMYSH: Central Asian Identity under Russian Rule. (Hartford, CT: Association for the Advancement of Central Asian Research, 1989); H. B. Paksoy, "Chora Batir: A Tatar Admonition to Future Generations" Studies in Comparative Communism, Vol. XIX, Nos. 3 and 4 Autumn/Winter 1986 contains a bibliography of printed versions of Chora Batir and an English language synopsis. Maday Qara: An Altay Epic Poem. Translation from the Altay, Introduction and Notes. Tr. Ugo Marai (Naples: Istituto Universitario Orientale Dipartimento di Studi Asiatici, 1986) is a unique work, providing insights into a sub-branch of the genre, primarily from the pre- Islamic period religious beliefs in Central Asia. An English translation of Koroglu was undertaken as a doctoral dissertation at the University of Chicago, under the direction of R. Dankoff. For versions of the original versions accessible in the US, see "Introduction," H. B. Paksoy, Editor, Central Asian Monuments (Istanbul: Isis Press, 1992).

Zeki Velidi Togan (1890-1970) was for over half a century a professor of history, and shared similar objectives with his contemporary colleagues Czech Thomas Masaryk (1850-1937) and Ukrainian Michael Hrushevsky (1866-1934). A Central Asian himself and a principal leader of the 1916 Turkistan National Liberation Movement. His volume Turkili Turkistan. (Istanbul, 1981) 3rd. Ed. sheds light on the conditions of Central Asian dastans as well. See also H. B. Paksoy, "Z. V. Togan: the origins of the Kazaks and the Ozbeks" Central Asian Survey (London) Vol. 11, No. 3, 1992.

Political borders and boundaries have not applied to the Central Asians until such artificial limitations were forcibly imposed upon them quite recently. In order to examine the conditions and social structures in Turkistan, alluding to the circumstances in which dastans flourished, and their effects, the following works may be of use: A. Bennigsen, "The Crisis of the Turkic National Epics, 1951-1952: Local Nationalism or Internationalism?" Canadian Slavonic Papers Vol. XVII, No. 2 and 3, 1975; Tura Mirzaev, Alpomish Dostonining Ozbek Variantlari (Tashkent, 1968); H. B. Paksoy, "Central Asia's New Dastans" Central Asian Survey (Oxford) Vol. 6, No. 1, 1987; idem, "Perspectives on the Unrest in the Altai Region of the USSR" Report on the USSR (Electronic version, on Sovset), September 1990; idem, "Alpamysh zhene Bamsi Beyrek: Eki At, Bir Dastan" ["Alpamysh and Bamsi Beyrek: Two Names, One Dastan"] Kazak Edebiyati (Alma-Ata), No. 41, 10 October 1986. (Rendered into Kazak by Fadli Aliev from H. B. Paksoy, "Alpamis ve Bamsi Beyrek: Iki Ad, Bir Destan" Turk Dili, No. 403, 1985); O. Caroe Soviet Empire, the Turks of Central Asia and Stalinism (London, 1953); Henri Carrere d'Encaussee Decline of an Empire: The Soviet Socialist Republics in Revolt (NY, 1979); Rene Grousset, The Empire of the Steppes (Tr. N. Walford) (New Brunswick, NJ, 1970); I. Kafesoglu, Turk Milli Kulturu (Istanbul, 1984) (3rd. Ed.); A. Inan, Makaleler ve Incelemeler (Ankara, 1968); J. R. V. Prescott, Map of Mainland Asia by Treaty (Melbourne University Press, 1975); F. Sumer, "Oguzlara Ait Destani Mahiyette Eserler," Ankara Universitesi DTC Fakultesi Dergisi, 1959; Stefan Wurm, Turkic Peoples of the USSR: Their Historical Background, their Language, and the Development of Soviet Linguistic Policy (Oxford, 1954); idem, The Turkic Languages of Central Asia: Problems of Planned Culture Contact (Oxford, 1954); [Akademiia Nauk Kazakhskoi SSR, Institut Istorii, Arkheologii i Etnografii Imina Ch. Ch. Valikhanova] Chokhan Chinghizovich Valikhanov, Sobranie sochnenii v piiati tomah. (Alma-Ata, 1984-1985). 5 Vols.

For a discussion of Soviet historiography, the following works are very useful: R. V. Daniels, Editor, A Documentary History of Communism (Hanover and London: University Press of New England, 1984), citing Resolution of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party, "On the Policy of the Party in the Field of Literature," July 1, 1925; Edward J. Brown, Tr., The Proletarian Episode in Russian Literature, 1928-1932 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1952); Lowell Tillett, The Great Friendship: Soviet Historians on the Non-Russian Nationalities. (Chapel Hill, 1969); C. E. Black, Editor, Rewriting Russian History. (New York, 1956); M. Dewhirst and R. Farrell, The Soviet Censorship. (Metuchen-NJ, 1973).

Some preliminary information about the Central Asian dastan genre has been slowly emerging out of an amalgam of works. G. M. H. Schoolbraid, The Oral Epic of Siberia and Central Asia (Indiana, 1975); provides a brief summation of sources. N. K. Chadwick and V. Zhirmunsky's Oral Epics of Central Asia (Cambridge, 1969) is a rehash of earlier studies. It abstracts Chadwick's Growth of Literature (Cambridge, 1940) and, under Zhirmunsky's name, provides both a repetition of a work in which Zhirmunsky participated, but largely written by Ozbek writer Hadi Zarifov. The 1960 work under Zhirmunsky's name, Skazanie ob Alpamyshe i bogatyrskaia skaza (Moscow, 1960) is mainly a reissue of Hadi Zarifov's contribution to Zhirmunsky and Zarifov, Uzbekskii narodnyi geroicheskii epos (Tashkent, 1947), minus Zarifov's name.

For Shahnama, see Theodor Noldeke, Translator (Bombay, 1930); see also W. L. Hanaway, "Epic Poetry" Ehsan Yarshater, Editor, Persian Literature (Ithaca: Bibliotheca Persica, 1988).

For the Soviet period treatment of dastans, particularly of Alpamysh, it is instructive to read the discussions appeared in: Shark Yilduzi (Tashkent) Vols. 5, 1952 and 1957; Pravda Vostoka (Tashkent), January, February and April 1952 issues; Literaturnaia Gazeta February and September 1952; Zvezda Vostoka (Tashkent) 1952; (Roundtable) "Bizim Sorgu: Tarihimiz, abidelerimiz, dersliklerimiz." Azerbaijan (Baku) No. 6, 1988; Aziz Serif, "Azerbaijan Musikisinin Atasi," Azerbaijan (Baku) No. 12, 1981. Most of the applicable extracts are available in H. B. Paksoy, Alpamysh, cited above.

The discussion pertaining to the dating of dastan Alpamysh boiled over during the "Trial of Alpamysh" of 1952-1956, when all dastans of Central Asia were officially condemned by the Soviet state apparatus. According to Borovkov, Hadi Zarif and Zhirmunskii, as well as earlier writings of Bartold, the dastan Alpamysh may have "existed probably in the foot-hills of the Altai as early as the sixth-eighth centuries at the time of the Turk Kaghanate."

The Ozbek Sovet Entsiklopediiasi (Tashkent, 1971) and the Bol'shaia Sovetskaia Entsiklopediia (Moscow, 1978) 3rd ed., reflect the attitudes toward the dastan genre in the Soviet Union; from the owners' and outsiders' perspectives, respectively.

There are a number of dastans published, but not yet available in English. A sample listing may be found in H. B. Paksoy Central Asian Monuments and idem, Central Asia Reader, both of which are referenced above.

This text was produced and installed by Lynn H. Nelson