Manuscripts on Turkic epic and literature in the collection of the Karakaplak Research Institute of Humanities (Nukus, Uzbekistan)
(63rd Annual Meeting Ulaanbaatar, 2021)
In the course of work in the manuscript collection of the Karakalpak Institute of Humanities (Branch of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Uzbekistan), a collection of manuscripts, lithographs and old-printed books was identified. It consists mainly of new arrivals (the so-called “Chimbay collection” at the place of origin of most of the manuscripts, from the city of Chimbay, formerly Shakhtemir now in the Republicof Karakalpakstan). We started its scientific description. A preliminary list of manuscripts, lithographs, and old-printed books was compiled, and they were distributed by language, chronology and subject. Among these manuscripts are works on Muslim dogmatics, Korans (and also fragments of Korans), poetic works (poems by Suleyman Bakirghani, Sa’di in Persian, various destans, etc.), treatises on the grammar of the Arabic language (“Awamil”), historical works, samples of calligraphy on separate folios, etc., in Arabic, Persian and Turkic languages (Chagatai, Tatar, Karakalpak). Together, they represent the area of reading of a Muslim of that era (19-first half of the 20th century) and are one of the illustrations of the close literary and cultural ties between the Aral Sea region (then the Khanate of Khiva), the Volga region, and the Ottoman Empire (where a number of manuscripts were copied).
Works of literature and folklore in the Karakalpak and Uzbek languages are objects of special interest: some of these manuscripts were rewritten in the 30-50s of the 20th century, in Arabic script and in Cyrillic (after 1939, when the transition to Cyrillic took place). These are plays, poems, epic dastans.
The copies of dastan texts (such as “Garip Aşik”, Khorezm versions of “Idige”, “Ramuz-Shakh” and others) – these are either texts received from storytellers by collectors, or texts rewritten by readers themselves, “listeners” – in this period indicates first of all that the oral tradition of performing dastans, as well as their written existence, was preserved in the 20th century for quite a long time.