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The Alpamysh, part 7: “You cannot take back your Barchin”

1Editor’s Note: Alpamysh rides to the Kalmak camp, where he confronts the impetuous and violent Karajan for the first time, and some of the spiritual power behind the Hero’s quest is revealed. An argument ensues and a mortal challenge is made. neweurasia’s Paksoy’s translations of the ancient Turkic epic continues!

Fun trivia fact: in one of the epic’s variants, Barchin tells Karajan that she will only marry whomever emerges victorious in four contests. Specifically, in order to win, a suitor’s “horse must surpass all the other horses in the baiga, he must draw the batir bow without breaking it, shoot [with a rifle [sic!]] a tenge [a small silver coin] at a distance of 1000 paces, and defeat his opponents in a wrestling match [kurash]. ‘The people will not be offended; whoever wins will marry me.’”

Incidentally, Kazakhstan made a special tenge coin to commemorate Alpamysh (see: the image to the right). I wonder if Karajan would have enjoyed shooting it… And as to the other contests? Well, wait and see. ;-)

Here and there [Alpamysh] rode. [He] heard many tongues on the way. His face turned pale [from the hard riding]. [He] sustained difficulties on the way to Barchin and caused his Chobar mount to become tired.

Here and there [Alpamysh] rode. [He] heard many tongues on the way. His face turned pale [from the hard riding]. [He] sustained difficulties on the way to Barchin and caused his Chobar mount to become tired.

As the soldiers of Taysha Khan and Karajan were feuding, asleep in their forts, one morning at dawn, the noise of hoofs reached Karajan’s ears. While the others slept, Karajan speedily arose. [He said:]

“Taysha’s men [these must be]. Get up my men, on your feet, one thousand men are coming! We are going to be ambushed! Let me wear my white mail, braid the tail of my horse. I will not let the name Karajan be belittled. [I will] attack the enemy like a hungry wolf. If the dogs fight each other, they will unite upon spotting a wolf, [so forget your feud and unite against this coming force].”

Thus Karajan and the others left for their lands. Karajan rode until dawn broke. The day rose scarlet. Karajan could not see the reason behind the noise. In the darkness of the dust, [raised by the same source that is making the noise, such as a rider] could not even see the ears of his horse. The spirit of [who he is looking after] Alpamysh was very powerful. Thus, even though Karajan had Good Saints looking after him, he could not see Alpamysh.

Karajan’s black tulpar did see Alpamysh. Baychobar’s stars were mightier than those of the tulpar of Karajan. Thus, Karajan’s horse was afraid of Baychobar, moving side to side on the road, in his fear. [Karajan said:]

“The eyes that look at the bright face of the black horse are blinded. May your elder brother be sacrificed to you! With your God given eyes, what did you see black horse, what did you see? I tried to get you to walk, you balked, you refused to eat. You became agitated without my whipping you. What have you seen?

“You are a fourteen year old arlan, I did not see an equal to you in my life. If I whip you, you fly [your feet barely touch the ground]. What did you see black horse, what did you see?

“Princes do not erect tents, [their orderlies do]. The lion does not fall under his foe. Are those coming more valiant than we? What did you see black horse, what did you see?

“[This] horse is covered with perspiration. Are those coming more brave than we? The coward worries only about food. What did you see black horse, what did you see?”

At that time, the cloud of dust [restricting Karajan's vision] settled. North wind stopped. When Karajan looked, he beheld a youth of fourteen with white face and brown eyes. One of his locks of hair was from gold, the other, of silver; he beheld Alpamysh, the zbek of Jidali Baysun.

[Karajan said:] “Are you a sorcerer or a saint? I’ll take your life, spill your blood. You are a powerful enemy. May the bright days turn into floods; may my rule grow more prosperous from year to year, but in all my life, I did not see a youngster like you.

“Bandit-natured sultan, may this be your last foray. The mountain of Kalmaks is tall, and seasons know the prime condition of a horse. Where are you coming from? Where are you going? Who are you, a prince or a pauper?”

Alpamysh answered: “I tightened the girth on the horses back. I drank the water of the Baysun lake. If you ask my name, it is Alpamysh, son of Baybora. I left my land may days ago. White geese were flying on the Baysun lake. I chose my horse at the age of fourteen, mounting it. I come after Barchin.”

When Alpamysh said that, [his] horse of prime condition neighed. [Alpamysh continued:] “He who is patient will attain his wish. At the age of seven I [learned how to] read and write. My dear Barchin came to this land. In the garden there were apples and pomegranates. In the realm of God, there is a sweetheart. I was separated from my beloved. Is there anyone who saw my sweetheart?”

Karajan laughed with contempt [and responded:] “There are two other suitors besides you. Roses need [a garden] to bloom. In order to [be] burn[ed], one needs a tongue. In order to take the beloved from us, one has to be more valiant than we. If I get angry, I will take your life, spill your red blood.

“Go back where you came from. You cannot take back Barchin. If you run away, I’ll catch you and lance you down. If you stay, I will grab you. You cannot take back your Barchin. Go back where you came from.”

Alpamysh Batir’s patience ran out, he became angry: “Do not speak ill. If you see someone, do not think that he is less than you. Do not speak of vanity on the field. Do you believe in what you are saying? Do not be vain on the field. Do not think you are valiant and I am not. Do not believe that you can scare me.

“God gave you a bird brain. Kalmak, do not try to act with that small mind. If I get angry I’ll behead you. Did you think that you could scare me when Barchin’s honor is at stake?”

At this time Alpamysh added: “No need to speak down to me or attempt to argue.”

Kalmak Karajan said: “If I argue, I’ll draw my bow, strike with the sword. Then what will you do?”

Karajan added: “Argument is upon your six ancestors, get used to it.”

At this time, Alpamysh undid his golden belt. He dismounted Baychobar. Karajan unfastened his golden belt. Both prepared to fight and die for Barchin, pledged their lives for the cause. Both took up positions to wrestle.

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