Kumbez of Manas

The Epic of Manas (Kyrgyz: Манас дастаны, Turkish: Manas Destanı) is a traditional epic poem of the Kyrgyz people. The monumental epic Manas is the most treasured expression of the national heritage of the Kyrgyz people. Composed and sung entirely in oral form by various singers throughout the centuries, Manas is regarded as the epitome of oral creativity. It is considered to be one of the greatest examples of epic poetry, whose importance is not inferior to that of the Homeric epic. As nomads, the Kyrgyz had no written language. However, they excelled in oral composition, which they artistically employed in their traditional poetry and epic songs. As the internationally renowned Kyrgyz writer Chingiz Aitmatov notes: "If other peoples/nations displayed their past culture and history in written art, the sculpture, architecture, theatre and literature, Kyrgyz people expressed their worldview, pride and dignity, battles and their hope for the future in epic genre."

The epic Manas is a trilogy, "a biographical cycle of three generations of heroes, i.e., Manas, his son Semetei and grandson Seitek." [9] The plot of the Manas trilogy consists of the following main episodes:

I. In Manas Birth of Manas and his childhood; His first heroic deeds; His marriage to Kanïkei; His military campaign against Beijing; Death of Manas, destruction of his achievements.

II. In Semetei Kanïkei takes Semetei and flees to Bukhara; Semetei's childhood and his heroic deeds; Semetei's return to Talas; Semetei's marriage to Aichürök; Semetei's battle against Kongurbai; Semetei's death or mysterious disappearance;

III. In Seitek Destruction of Semetei's family; Capture of Aichürök and Külchoro; Seitek's growing up in Kïiaz's palace; Fighting against the internal enemies; Seitek's marriage; His defeat of the external enemies and death.

Manas is said to have been buried in the Ala-Too mountains in Talas Province, in northwestern Kyrgyzstan. A mausoleum some 40 km east of the town of Talas is believed to house his remains and is a popular destination for Kyrgyz travellers. Traditional Kyrgyz horsemanship games are held there every summer since 1995. An inscription on the mausoleum states, however, that it is dedicated to "...the most famous of women, Kenizek-Khatun, the daughter of the emir Abuka". Legend has it that Kanikey, Manas' widow, ordered this inscription in an effort to confuse her husband's enemies and prevent a defiling of his grave. The name of the building is "Manastin Khumbuzu" or "The Dome of Manas", and the date of its erection is unknown. There is a museum dedicated to Manas and his legend nearby the tomb.

Kumbez of Manas
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