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The Alpamysh, part 12: The race of Barchin begins!

Riders speed towards the finish of the long-distance race, known as 'ate chabysh'. Photograph by EurasiaNet.org's David Trilling (click image for more).

The race for Barchin’s hand in marriage has begun: whoever can reach her jurt first shall have her! Alpamysh and Karajan’s enemies prepare themselves, numbering as many as 490. But Alpamysh himself is banned from racing on account of his age, forcing the much older Karajan to compete in his place…

Karajan told Alpamysh what Barchin said. Alpamysh asked him, “Are my elders well?” “They are well, my friend,” Karajan replied. Upon hearing this news, they rested Baychobar for seven days and nights.

Meanwhile, the Kalmaks rode hard over the stony ground towards the fortress of Taysha Khan. They hid their beloved in the castle, for to the winner of the horse race contest, Barchin was the prize; hence, all hell broke loose [among them].

For the lady and the child, horsetails were braided. Death is an order of the creator: no Kalmak was left behind, all were gathered, and all cried with the hope of receiving the hand of Barchin. [According to the mollas,] four hundred and ninety swift horses from the side of Taysha entered the race.

Karajan called for his friend Alpamysh, who was ready to enter the race. [Yet,] Alpamysh himself was not permitted [on account of his age of 14 years], for children only fetch the horses. His friend Karajan was fielded instead, declaring, “For the sake of friendship, I will be the horsegroom!”

And so, he mounted the Chobar. Alpamysh entrusted Karajan to the care of God, and Baychobar to the care of Karajan. Alpamysh said:

“I came from the fortress of Baysun,
my wish is from God.
I allowed you to mount Baychobar because of our friendship;
do not betray this trust, Karajan.
When you run Baychobar, do not take his life;
no horse with full belly races after the black one.
For reasons of friendship I allowed you to mount him;
remember, for good or bad, he is mine.
Hungry or not, be careful with him!
I implore God with tears,
I let the grey falcon on my arm take flight.
I let you mount Chobar out of friendship,
I commend you to the creator.”

Alpamysh thus bid farewell and sent them on their way.

Karajan received prayers from the Sultan, who gave him his precious rose.

And then, upon receiving starting orders from Taysha Khan, the valiant Karajan, a batir by birth, along with four hundred and ninety horses ridden by other contestants, started the race!

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