Aikol Manas


This is a translation of the first volume of the book “Aikol Manas” (Magnanimous Manas) by Jaisan Umot uulu.  The book represents the experience of a written expression of the story of the classical heroic epic “Manas”.  In the original language, the book was published in 10 volumes and has seen several editions.

The Kyrgyz epic trilogy “Manas. Semetei. Seitek” is a set of historically and genealogically interrelated parts of the orally transmitted story.  Manas is a hero who managed to unite the fragmented tribes into a single nation – the Kyrgyz, delineate the territory they inhabited as the “Kyrgyz land”, and protect his people and land from external enemies.  The early episodes of the trilogy emerged more than a thousand years ago.  According to one of the versions, the first episode of the epic was born out of the lamentations, when the great leader died.  But Semetei, the hero’s son continued in his father’s tracks, followed by his son Seitek.  Thus, the trilogy “Manas. Semetei. Seitek” has become the embodiment of the spirit of the Kyrgyz people and a symbol of their ethnic identity, integrity and independence.

However, the surprising uniqueness of the Kyrgyz trilogy is in that unlike other epics of the world it has been a living, developing phenomenon to the present day.  The Kyrgyz people say “There is no trilogy without the narrators”.  The epic trilogy continues its being through the community of the narrators.  The never ending narration can run for hours – the longest narration spell in modern time was registered in August 2004, when Ulan Ismailov narrated the epic for 12 hours and 45 minutes without a break.  According to the tradition, the true narrators are chosen by the spirits: they narrate the trilogy not based on memorization, but through receiving it from the heroes and narrators of the past.  Hence, the narration can last for weeks and months.

The epic “Manas” is a living, developing phenomenon also is in the form of a written version of the epic.   Nevertheless, the appearance of the book telling the story of Manas has become huge news for the contemporary Kyrgyz society.  This news has divided the epic’s supporters and experts in different camps.  It is necessary to note that the majority of the Kyrgyz intelligentsia, especially the academics and writers, are actively not accepting the book “Aikol Manas” by Jaisan Umot uulu.  In the articles that follow this introductory note, Jumadin Kadyrov and Temirbek Toktogaziev, supporters of the written version of the epic, analyze in detail the reasons behind the division and rejection.

There is no doubt that scholars (folklorists, psychologists and anthropologists) can provide their interpretations on the subject of the appearance and content of this book.  Bubu Mariam asserts that the book “Aikol Manas” was born in the process of live communication with the living spirit of one of the narrators of the great Kyrgyz epic “Manas”.  In this context, the book may be classified as the type of literature called “spiritual news sharing”.

Famous manaschy – carriers of the oral version – have different attitudes towards the content of the book and interpretation of certain events in the epic, but none of them casts doubt on the spiritual experience of Bubu Mariam.  Each one of them experiences the moment of unity and communication with the past and its heroes during the narration of the epic.

You can read book here