To commemorate the Christmas and New Year season, neweurasia is publishing an English translation of the ancient Turkic epic, the Alpamysh, translated by our resident scholar, H.B. Paksoy. In this, the fourth instalment of a huge post series, Baysari Bay is confronted with choosing the fate of his daughter’s heart.
Editor’s note: To commemorate the Christmas and New Year season, neweurasia is publishing an English translation of the ancient Turkic epic, the Alpamysh, translated by our resident scholar, H.B. Paksoy. In this, the fourth instalment of a huge post series, Baysari Bay is confronted with choosing the fate of his daughter’s heart.
The painting above is from a set design by Gulfairus Ismailov, a painter and designer for the Kazakh National Theater and Ballet, for a 1973 production of the opera, “Alpamys”. Click on it to learn more about Ismailov and his work.
Eighteen Kalmaks mounted their horses. They headed towards Baysari Bay’s camp. The Ruler’s good Vezir, was the head of his nine ambassadors. He was Kokemen Kaska. He arrived at the white tent of Baysari Bay.
“The silhouette of the horses fell on the mountain,” he announced. “Do not stay away from us. Is there anybody in this house? Communicate with us. We rode our horses over stony ground, shed bloody tears from eyes. If there is a person in the white tent, come out and communicate with us.”
Baysari came out. He recognized the men sent by the Ruler. His color faded. He welcomed them. At that time, Kokemen Kaska spoke up:
“We taught a lesson to the enemy bedecked with rubies, corals and mother of pearl. Stewards caused us to come as ambassadors. The world is transitory and false. We came as ambassadors; Baysari, who is an outsider, is one of the stewards. We tied on our lances the standards, arriving to visit the Bay, to look at the white camp site. We came to offer greetings, to ask for his Muslim daughter’s hand in marriage.
“Matchmaking is done by ambassadors, so is making enemies. I am a hunter who let loose his birds of prey. You have a daughter, we have a son. I came as an ambassador for your daughter.
“You braid the mane of your horse. You are the respected leader of the Kungrat. Nine of us sent by Taysha, nine by Karajan. If you say, ‘The Ruler,’ then to Taysha. If you say, ‘The Warrior,’ then to Karajan. You have the choice Baysari. You permit Barchin [to marry: how do you answer?”
Baysari lost all hope; his luck ran out. He went back into his tent, saw his daughter: “You are my pearl, apple of my eye. Who else. An embassy from Taysha came asking for you. He is disputing with Karajan about which one will you choose. May I be sacrificed to you, light of my eye.”
At that time Barchin Jan said, “My mind became tired from thinking. Both Kalmaks want the possessions of this world. Do not cry, dear father, my heart is broken too. God’s will shall prevail. Do not speak disparagingly. Do not look down upon any other man.
“Do not cry, father, my heart sinks too. Do not lose your hopes, dear father, you still have your Barchin. I will look at my face in the mirror and see what God created.
“Do not cry, dear father, I will give thanks [to God, for what we already have]. I will give my answer to the Kalmaks. I have grown from year to year. The worry of my loved one has been troubling me.
“You do mount your horse and leave the gathering place. You braid your horse’s tail on the day of the battle. You agreed to give me to the Sultan of the Kungrat. Is he not also fourteen now? Do not braid the horse’s tail without [the prospect of] a battle.
“I know, you are an anxious man. The real owner of the property will [eventually] arrive. [For that reason] please be careful in your answer dear fathe.r”
[Altun Sach intercedes:] “At dawn you had loaded the castrated yellow camels and led them towards the atheist Kalmaks. I cried heartily upon migrating from my land. What richness have you gained [from that action]?”
Barchin responded, she grew angry, tightened her belt, twisted off the bird’s neck. Barchin folded her arms, looked at the ambassadors sent by Taysha Khan, and stated: “I cried deeply when I saw you. However, what can crying accomplish? We came here believing that you Kalmaks were men.
“If I listen to my heart, it has a message. To those ambassadors sent by the Ruler, this is what I have to say: go and tell Taysha Khan: ‘The mane of the horse is braided. Valiant elders are superior [to those who are cowards]. If he is Taysha Khan, I am Barchin.
“We are the guests [in his dominions]. He should give us six months grace. When six months pass, thin becoming fat, then he can strike his white lance. I will wear my gold garments.
“I need the time to gather my mind. From a distance of forty days that I, Barchin came. I will submit myself to spend a life without worries.
“From a distance of forty days, [he] whose horse comes first, not calling him Kizilbash or Kalmak, I am unlucky Barchin. Go tell your Khan: I will marry the one I [thus] choose.”
That is what she said.
End of Part 4Share
H.B. Paksoy (D. Phil., Oxford University) is a distinguished scholar of Turkic studies. He is currently with the Faculty of General Studies in Baker College, Michigan. He has previously taught at Harvard University, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Ohio State University, Franklin University, and Central Connecticut State University.