Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Abai Ibragim Kunanbaiuli (Kazak: Абай Ибрагим Кунанбайулы Russian: Абай Ибрагим Кунанбаев. Because of Russian influence many people know him as Abai Kunanbaev) (August 10, 1845 - July 5, 1904) was a Kazakh poet, composer, and philosopher, as well as an important cog in the development of Kazakh as a legitimate written language.
Abai was born on Chingis-Tau (modern-day Karaul ), the son of Kunanbai, a well-off feudal lord, and Ulzhan, Kunanbai's second wife. His father's economic status enabled the boy to attend a Russian school in his youth, but only after he had already spent some years studying under a mullah and in a madrash. At his school in Semipalatinsk Abai encountered the writings of Mikhail Lermontov and Aleksandr Pushkin.
Abai's main contribution to Kazakhs lies in his poetry, which expresses great nationalism and grew out of Kazakh folk culture. Before him, most Kazakh poetry was oral, echoing the nomadic habits of the peoples of the Kazakh steppes. During Abai's lifetime, however, a number of important socio-political and socio-economic changes occurred. Russian influence continued to grow in Kazakhstan, resulting in greater educational possibilities as well as exposure to a number of differing philosophies, whether Russian, Western, or Asian. Abai Kunanbaiuli steeped himself in the cultural and philosophical history of these newly-opened geographies. In this sense, Abai's creative poetry affected the philosophical thinking of educated Kazakhs.
Abai also translated into Kazakh the works of Russian and European authors, mostly for the first time.
Contemporary Kazakhstani images of Abai generally depict him in full traditional dress, holding a dombra, the Kazakh national instrument. Today, Kazakhs revere Abai as one of the first folk heroes to enter into the national consciousness of his people.
There is a book written by Mukhtar Auezov, which is supposed to be an biography of Abai. The facts however have been greatly distorted because of the Soviet influence during the time it was written. It portrays him as someone who hates the Kazak culture and wants to Russify it.
Here is one of the many poems he wrote...
"Summer" When summer in the mountains gains its peak, When gaily blooming flowers begin to fade, When nomads from the sunshine refuge seek Beside a rapid river, in a glade, Then in the grassy meadows here and there The salutatory neighing can be heard Of varicouloured stallion and mare. Quiet, shoulder-deep in water stands the herd; The grown-up horses wave their silky tails, Lazily shooing off some irksome pest, While frisky colts go frolicking about Upsetting elder horses, at their rest. The geese fly honking through the cloudless skies. The ducks skim noiselessly across the river, The girls set up the felt tents, slim and spry, As coy and full of merriment as ever. Returning from his flocks, pleased with his ride, Again in the aul appears the bai. His horse goes on with an unhurried stride, He sits and smiles upon it, hat awry. Surrounding the saba in a close ring, Sipping their heady beverage -- kumyss, Old men sit by a yurta, gossiping yurta And chuckling at quips rarely amiss. Incited by the servants comes a lad To beg the cook, his mother, for some meat. Beneath an awning, gay and richly clad The bais on gorgeous carpets take their seats. And sip their tea, engaged in leisured talk. One speaks, while others listen and admire His eloquence and wit. Towards them walks A bent old man bereft of strength and fire. He shouts at shepards not to raise the dust Aiming to win the favor of the bais. And yet in vain he raises such a fuss -- They sit and never even turn their eyes. There, tucking up the hems of their chapans, Leisurely swaying in their saddles as they trot From nightly grazing come the young chabans Whipping their lusty steeds god knows for what. A long way off from the aul's last tents With movement and excitement getting warm, On horseback, too, the bai's son and his friends Enjoy a falcon hunt. The bird's in splendid form At one quick spurt such falcons catch and bring Crashing to earth the great, unwieldy geese. Meanwhile that bent old maan, unlucky thing, The toady that had nigh gone hoarse to plea The haughty bais, unnoticed, watches on, And sighs for sorrow that his time is gone. - Translated by Dorian Rottenberg 1886
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