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THE KHAKAS NATIONAL CULTURE

The Khakas nation has very rich and honourable history which does to the depth of ancient times when Siberia has been settled by many tribes of different origin, tumuli of men of which have discovered by archaeologists until present days. Khyrghyz people who has been an ancestor of modern Khakas nation and has left him original patterns of ancient writing system of Orkhon-Yenisei Turk Runics script and of unique examples of ancient petroglyths which are widespread throughout the Khakas steppes and mountains.

The Khakas national culture contains the brightest colourite of historical heritage of Kyrgyz people and of previous Persian, Chinese, Mongolian, Scythian, Hun and some Finno-Ugric tribes like the Samoyeds, Samody and Kets. Together with that the Khakas culture bears the parts of a common cultural heritage that is left for us up to thousands of years ago by our ancestors who had lived on Khakas land in previous historical periods like Tazmin, Afanasievo, Andronovo, Karasuk, Tagar (Scythian-Sarmatians of Southern Siberian state of Dingling-go), Tashtyk (Huns) arceological epoches. Thus, culture of our nation carries traces of very vast spectrum of cultural and folkloric background which in present days has been continued by painting and sculpture art, and through the preservation of throat-songing [in Khakasian – `Khai`, and a throat-songing performer – `Khaidji`] tradition which is the national Khakas songing`s  style met in general only in Asian  people.

In Khakas Republic there is Khakas Republic Philarmony founded in February of 1989. Solists of this philarmony`s subgroup `Ulger` [means `constellation` or `galaxy`] which performes both the traditional Khakasian Khai and modern repertoire have many times toured abroad (Japan, Spain, Holland, Turkey, etc. Western and Eastern European countries and their towns).

In the Khakas Republic there are professional folk musicians named Khaidjis, who make in self-denying form an effort  for protecting and propagandizing this ethno-musical tradition that has been transferred to us as national cultural heritage by  our ancestors. These throat-singers (Khaidji) have performed Khai – a throat-singing which is a part of the traditional ethno-cultural heritage of Khakas people and a part of cultural wealth of all humanity as well.

Khaidji performs Khai in two styles; by mounting a horse (i.e., Khai – throat-singing under Chatkhan accompaniment), and by sidewalk (i.e., without any musical instrument’s accompaniment). Together with that, first way of Khai performing is more widespread within Khakas community..

I also have to give some marks about traditional Khakas folk musical instruments – Chatkhan, that is being leading instrument among other traditional Khakas national instrumental collection which consist of Chatkhan (this instrument in general has 6, 7 strings, but sometimes number of strings reach up to 12, 14), 2 or 3-stringed Khomys, Timir Khomys, and Pyrghy, Khobrakh, Syylas (these three instruments are like flute by form), Tuur (which is a rhythmic instrument like a drum and also is a shaman`s `horse` for astral and mental travels), Yykh (2-stringed), etc.

Chatkhan is essential musical instrument of Khaidji for performing the Khai by telling heroic epic (Alyptygh Nymakh) which performance may last up to several days and nights.  Chatkhan lies in centre of spiritual life of Khakas people. First descriptions about Chatkhan have been made by D.G. Messerschmidt, who in 1721 for the first time discovered the steles of Yenisei Turkic inscriptions (Ancient Kyrgyz inscription steles which in following times  has been named as Yenisei and Orkhon [located at the Orkhon River basin in a northern part of Mongolia where had lived the Gok Turks - `Heaven-originated Turks`] inscriptions. Descriptions of recorded details of Chatkhan made by this scholar are very important from point of view on an evolution experienced by a Khakas ethno-musical instrument – Chatkhan [it`s name may in modern sense be interpreted as `Khan of Chat`, because of Chatkhan like a Tuur (a Shaman`s drum) is a mean of communication to ghosts (in Khakas – Khut -tar [hut])].

Together with alyptygh nymakhtar in Khakas folk literatural heritage of national culture there are national melodies [kog -ler], sad and tragic melodies [Mong -lar], tales [Nymakh -tar], stories [Chookh -tar], true epics [Nartpakh -tar], traditional songs [Yr -lar], modern songs [Saryn -nar], short poems which generally have eight lines [Takhpakh -tar], proverbs [Sospek -ter], wise phrases and idioms [Khyigha Sos -ter], poems [Kibelis -ter], puzzles [Taptyrghas -tar], fiction stories [Taima chookh -tar], anecdotes [Khongaldjos -tar], true stories [Syn chokh -tar], prayers [Alghas -tar] during rituals [Taiygh -lar], thanksgivings [Alghys -tar], desires and requests [Suranys -tar] and many other aspects.

Many of Khakas national takhpakhs as well as other national literatural-cultural elments were due to prohibited under repressive Soviet regime. But in spite of then disadvantageous repressive regime they could continue themselves beings by confidential verbal transmission among the bearers of traditional Khakas cultural heritage. Furthermore in our days when around the world there are winds of scientific and technological revolution have blown stronger all ethnical or sub-national groups have a chance and opportunity to research, protect, conserve and even develop their own cultural and ethnical identities against or under negative impacts brought by above mentioned winds of information and technology revolution which accelerate the globalization process through using positive or adventageous means and opportunities created by these winds.

And finally here I would like to present for you a simple of Khakas takhpakh together with its English interpretation made by me:

“Adam chiri allygh chir             

Akh ot osken chir polghan

Any saghynzam pozymnyng

Ala kharaamnang chas akhcha

 

Inem chiri ilbek chir

Irben(*) oscheng chir polghan

Izeptep any saghynzam

Iki kharaamnang chas akhcha . . .”

 

          “My fatherland once was a vast country

On which soil there was the Nature with a rich flora and fauna

And when I think about it

Tears run down from my hazel eyes

          

          My motherland once was a great country

          On which soil there was grown a holy herb of Irben(*)

 And now when I remember it with sorrow

           Tears are flowing from my both eyes..."

(*) Irben [Thymus vulgaris] according to Khakas shamanistic belief is a sacral herb used for give off smoke and sanctify during a shamanic ritual the people attended to it. This herb is grown in mountains and mountainous places.

Timur Bulat DAVLET  [25 Alai 2001]