Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ajiniyaz Kosibay-Uli great Karakalpak poet and patriot

"Statue of Ajiniyaz - Nukus"

Ajiniyaz Kosibay Uli  (Karakalpak: Әжинияз Қосыбай Улы, Uzbek: Ajiniyoz Qo`siboy o`g`li) known also as Ziywar (his pen name) was born in 1824 on the southern coast of the Aral Sea in the village of Kamish bugat (located in Muynak region) near the mouth of the river Amu-Darya. This part of the coastal area of the Aral coast the home of the Ashmayli and Kiyat (Karakalpak clans).

He attended the Madrasah's of Imam Khojamurad, Sher-Gozi and then later Inak Kutlimurat in Khiva during the years 1840-45. Apart from his religious studies he also studied the works of classical poets such as Navoi, Khafiz, Saadi, Fizuli and developed a deep interest in what became known as progressive lyrical poetry.

After graduation from the Madrasah of Inak Kutlimurat Ajiniyaz in Khiva he returned to his native village for a short time and then went onto what is now Kazakhstan where he stayed for a year. Coming back to Karakalpakstan he married in his home village. Today the descendants of this marriage live in the regions of Kungrad, Kanlikul, Shumanay and in Nukus.

The Kungrad rebellion of 1858-1859 had a big influence on the poetic nature of Ajiniyaz. As an intellectual and patriot he could not remain indifferent to the repression by the Khan of Khiva of his people and took an active part in the revolt.

Afterwards he was captured and deported to what was then in Russian Imperial times was known as the Trans Caspian Province (today's Turkmenistan) by the Khivan Khan as one of the leaders of the rebellion. During this period of exile he translated into Karakalpak many poems of the Great Turkmen Poet Maktumkuli.

Three years later Ajiniyaz came back home where he once again faced persecution by the Khivans and again had to leave this time for what is now Southern Kazakhstan. It was during this time that Ajiniyaz met the Kazakh poetess Kiz-Menesh and with her took part in a famous poetry competition "The Aytis" which at that time was especially popular in Central Asia.

In 1878 his poem was described in the Tashkent newspaper «Turkistan walayati».

... When there is wedding, you’ll wear red chapan,

And burn from love in the fire of your beloved.

I was born in a year of a sheep, now I am 40, Kiz-menesh,

Will you marry me ....!

His years spent in exile in Kazakhstan were to be the height of his creative period and where he wrote many of his most famous poems.

Coming back to Khiva which by this time was absorbed into Imperial Russia, Ajiniyaz opened   schools in the villages of Bozataw, Kamis buget and Jetim uzak for children from poor families where he taught them skills of writing and grammar. Up until the end of his life in 1874 - he continued to write poetry.

Study of the poetry of Ajiniyaz first began in the 1930's. The first published research carried out by the distinguished Karakalpak philologists K.Aimbetov, O.Kojurov and N.Davkaraev. A major part of N.Davkaraev’s article 'Essays on the history of the Karakalpak literature' is dedicated to the poetry of Ajiniyaz.

In the late 40's and 50's a new generation of researchers K.Aimbetov, I.Sagitov, K.Berdimuratov, S.Akhmetov, B.Ismailov and others provided new data about his life and literary activity. In 1949 the poems of Ajiniyaz were first published in the Karakalpak and Uzbek languages, and in 1975 in Russian.

In the 60's the discovery of a new cache of poetic manuscripts of Ajiniyaz that had been unknown before, brought new attention to the study the poet’s work. Among these were articles by K.Bayniyazov’s "Thoughts about poet Ajiniyaz", Kh.Khamidov’s "Basis of the Ajiniyaz’s poetry", A.Karimov’s "Ajiniyaz, a master of the artistic word", K. Sultanov’s "Fallen in love in the youth", A. Pirnazarov’s "Some thoughts about the proficiency of Ajiniyaz", A. Murtazaev’s "Literary methods and stylistic peculiarities of Ajiniyaz Kosibay Uli" and other works.

A comparison of the poetry of Ajiniyaz with the history of the Karakalpak people was undertaken by Academician S.Kamalov "Historical-ethnographic information in the poetry of Ajiniyaz" and by Professor B.Ismailov "Description of the Kungrad rebellion of 1858- 1859 in the poetry of Ajiniyaz".

Ajiniyaz was not only the ideologist of the popular rebellion but also an active participant of the Bozataw tragedy which left a terrible wound in the hearts and minds of the Karakalpak people. The hard trials suffered by the people are told in Ajiniyaz’s famous poem "Bozataw"

Century of Land with nation, nation is with land,

Grief is awaiting us, landless in exile.

We won’t forget the pain, tribe will disappear

You were our bread-winner, dear Bozataw.

Heard, firing started out before sunrise,

Slept as free before-woke up as a slaver,

Hands were tied up-where is the struggle…

Your son was captured suddenly, Bozataw

Ajiniyaz was one of the most well-educated and cultured men of his time. His body of work brought into the Karakalpak language and culture many elements of the "kosik", philosophical lyric style. His poetry leaving a lasting image of what life was like in Karakalpakstan during the 19th Century.

He is still held in the highest respect in his homeland, his statue prominently situated in central Nukus.





Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Aral Sea


Photo: Process drying of Aral sea (Interactive map from wikimedia.org)

Millions of years ago, the northwestern part of Uzbekistan and western Kazakhstan were covered by a massive inland sea. When the waters receded, they left a remnant sea known as the Aral.

The Aral as an inland salt-water sea has no outlet being fed by the Amu Darya and Syr Darya Rivers. The fresh water from these two rivers once held the Aral's water and salt levels in balance. However after the 50ies and 60ies when a series of major irrigation schemes were undertaken on the two rivers by Soviet Engineers the water started to recede.

The schemes were based on constructing a series of dams on both two rivers to create reservoirs from which eventially 40.000 km of canals would be dug to divert water to field crops. Afterwards however there was little or no water left in the riverbeds to flow to the Aral Sea. Consequently the water level in the last 50 years in the Aral has dropped by 16 metres (60%) and the volume has been reduced by 75 percent.

Whilst triggering what is considered one of the 20th Centuries greatest ecological disasters; these schemes will not be reversed as irrigated crops are the main source of income and food for millions of people living in the region. The fall in the Aral Sea appears to have slowed, the most recent Google Earth images showed only small changes since ca. 2003.

Photos: NASA satellite images the Aral Sea and part of the lowland section of the Aral basin.