The snowcapped peaks and deep green hills were ruling above the narrow valley in Tien-Shan mountains. It was getting darker and darker, the cold wind announced night… We have been invited for a tea to the yurt. Colorful carpets were spinning in stuffy air, last silent rays of the sunshine were glancing from the top of the yurt. Samoor (traditional water boiler) was belching out dark clouds, the beverage was almost ready and in this magic atmosphere the tea ceremony started. The host family was sitting quietly waiting when the youngest son will start recitation of Manas Epic. The story was started by four years old Manas teller…

In my last night’s dream,
I settled down on the upper Ala-Too
and caught a young baarchin eagle.
When I took him hunting,
the sound of his flapping wings was heard,
unable to withstand his wrath,
all the animals fell over in fright.

Reaching with my right hand,
I grasped the sun for myself.
Reaching with my left hand,
I caught the moon for myself.
My right hand held the sun,
my left hand held the moon,
I took the sun
and put it in place of the moon,
I took the moon
and put it in place of the sun.
Together with the sun and moon,
I flew high into the sky.

The Epic of Manas is the largest one in the history of the world folklore heritage. This epic trilogy consist half million lines of the literary laudation of The Great Manas and his descendants – Semetey and Seytek. In 1995 Kyrgyz nation celebrated the 1000th anniversary of the Manas Epic, and that time UNESCO has added the epic to its “intangible heritage” list. However, the first extant epos mentions appeared at the end of 18th century, and primary reference to Manas came from 15th century manuscript Madjmu at-Tawarikh (A Collection of Stories) written by Tajik Saif Ad-din. The story was handed over orally by Mans tellers (manashi), and it spread out in time. Story telling is one of the nomadic people feature, the history is passing by offspring among youngest generations. The recording of Kyrgyz oral literature heritage started in 1850s by Kazakh ethnographer – Chokan Valikhanov, who was traveling across Issyk-Kul region. The research was continued by german scientist Wilhelm Radloff in 1860s and Russian Geographical Society in 1900s. Nowadays, the current Manas Epic edition is fully recorded by its eulogists – Sagimbai Orozbakov and Saiakbay Karalaev, contemporary Kirgiz singers. The Manas Epic was translated to English, firstly in 1977 by Arthur Hatto and recent issue in 1995 translated by Walter Mayor. Great Manas is symbol of Kyrgyz tribes unification, it plays a role also in Kazakh, Uzbek and Turkmen history and culture. Manas uniqueness was promulgated with a sign of the eagle and his childhood was manifestation of unusual abilities. His fame spread out among Altai region and reached Chinese emperor, who wanted to assassin young Manas. The trap was not succeed, Manas proved his superhuman strength and power. There is no doubt, that The Great Manas trigged unification process of forty Kyrgyz tribes and his offspring were responsible for the succession of his fame. Epic become an universal medium, which evolves cultural code and includes traditions, values and morals, unique Kyrgyz worldview, language and art craft. What is more, for ages it was standing for Kirgiz identity during eddy history.


Crystal clear mountain lake covers in the deep icy waters an magic creature – fish Cho and it’s tale. Ahead of one hundred generations in the Sary-Chelek area there was an fertile mountain valley. The land was peopled by golden-humans within uniforms of fish scale. who built the city of Saj Cho by the riverside. The scion’s of Heaven Mountains nation honored the god Cho – man with fish head. Cho has own sanctuary of the Great Water within a holly well for him. The magic creature was conveying its blessing by the preacher man, who use to live over 100 years. The Cho’s servants were born by magic kiss of the god, preserved for the most beautiful virgin in the valley. In this magic act the girl was giving a birth to gold-skin child. Sumptuousness were not leaving the valley since the neighbour nations brought the warfare. The calamity yielded annihilation for the golden-human society, however only one Cho’s retainer survived. His prays for help fetched the great flood, the mountains has trembled. Since then, we can admire Sary-Chelek lake, which is now a residence of the Cho… The story was told in 1936 by old man who called himself as lake’s warder. There was a girl that time, charmed by the fairytale – she was a member of Russian Geographical Society expedition in Sary-Chelek. The magic of the lake batheded in moonlight trigged her to the shore. She had seen a men with a fish-face in the depth of water, after a while she experienced gently kiss. The girl felt into lingering illness and did lost her memory. Some time afterward this incident the shepherds use to meet an old man with a little blonde boy walking on the lakeside.


The night is late, strong wind is hanging around. We are still warming up with a bowl of tea. The atmosphere of calmness, warmth and magic is bringing a deep dream. There are so many fairy-tails to tell and stories to dream…