Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Epic of Manas, Chapter 2: The Song of Jaisan

September 1, 2008 
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For ten days the wedding той of Manas roared on. The happy voices of young men and women singing flew through the air on wings like swings – селничек. The beasts made noises, подбадрывая warriors, mounting their stallions and wrestling with one another from horseback, or showing their strength by fighting “kurosh” – the traditional form of wrestling. Ликовал people listened to a competition of singers, who compelled their listeners to laugh until they shed tears of mirth.

Still on the first day of the celebration, Manas, seeing the impatience of his father to learn the details of the military campaign said to him, “Father, every man in this world has his vocation. Mine is to fight and defeat my enemies. I am not gifted with words. Listen, father, to the art of my comrade.” And with that, Manas sent for Jaisan.

The gods had given that warrior a great poetic gift, therefore everything about which he sang appeared fresh and new to those who heard it. Every day there came an hour when Jaisan began his song of the recent campaign of Manas.

Holding their breath, the people of the village listened to the tale of the legendary Khan Koshoye, who was possessed not only of gigantic strength and wisdom, but the gift of sorcery, a blessing which enabled Koshoye to take the appearance of the Chinese ruler of the city Dagalak Kyrmusa, thus assisting Manas in the capture of the city.

Jaisan moved his listeners with the tales of the battle of the Kyrgyz army in the country of Eset, of the conquest of the city of Mangyt, of the meeting of Odozdu and Bakai and of Bai’s sad demise. When Jaisan sang of these battles, it seemed to the people that the earth trembled from the hooves of unseen riders. When he described the torment of the army of Manas, trapped for ten days and ten nights in the harsh sun of the desert, the listeners felt their throats and lips parch as though in reality they themselves felt the burning of sun and sweat.

Jaisan easily directed the moods of his listeners. One moment all were happy and smiling, as if they, not the warriors of Manas, had reached the magical land of Aspaan, where flew flies the size of mice, and where mice were bigger than dogs, where flowed rivers of crystal, and where the thick grass was filled with slow moving turtles similar to giant cats.

Suddenly fear appeared in the eyes of the listeners, and many covered their mouths from terror as Jaisan began to tell of the captivity of six of Manas’s archers by a one-eyed giant. The listeners found themselves quite vividly transported to a dark cave, inhabited by the giant and the group of unhappy captives who waited for their terrible fate to be meted out by the bloodthirsty cyclops. Finally, the listeners happily exchanged glances with one another; the archers had succeeded in breaking free after one of them, Kutubee, had gouged out the sole eye of the giant.

Jaisan related to the people of Jakyp the tale of the strange Italians, where the women were beautiful – as if made of feathers – and where the men had the heads of dogs. He sang of the giant cannons of Dubrokhan, the rulers of the Dangyts who fought a great battle with the army of Manas.

The cannon of the Dangyts was called Urkerboh
It was pulled by six elephants
In front of it were twelve shooters who проха всыпали in its muzzle
Thirty strong men loaded the cannonballs
Every time the cannon fired, the city of the Dangyts winced,
The sun was shadowed in smoke and the earth rumbled
The sound of shots smashed through the thirty cities of the Dangyts
As the innumerable army of Manas gathered and advanced

Every day Jaisan finished singing at the most interesting place possible, when he had brought the passion of his listeners to its summit. The listeners always remained until the end of his tale, and would then implore him to impart what would happen next, but Jaisan remained unmoved. The people of the village waited impatiently for the next day and for the continuation of the tale, animatedly discussing what they had heard in the interim.

With particular inspiration, Jaisan sang of the battle of Manas and his army with the Chinese. His voice rang with the blows of steel blades. As if with their own eyes, the listeners saw a grandiose dramatization, as though they looked upon a painting of the battle.

Battle-axes slammed against heads
Найзы rang upon their chests with a clanking sound
Swords crossed with a ringing sound
Hands became callused, and muscles lost their strength
The troop of warriors overran the entire mountain
Embracing their weapons, archers fell, breathless
Найзы fell, crossed with spears
Warriors lay, pinned down
And with the crown on his head, the dead Khan fell

The complete history of the military campaign of Manas was told by the singer, as Jakyp and his men listened with their hearts. When he finished, they all thanked Jaisan most warmly for his art. 

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