Oral legacies: epics and tales told by songs

The Epic of Manas of the Kirgiz ethnic group

Updated: Jul 19, 2022 www.chinaservicesinfo.com Print
Share - WeChat

Said to be 20 times longer than Homer's Odyssey, Manas is a large-scale heroic epic of the Kirgiz people passed down from generation to generation orally since the 16th century. It consists of eight chapters in 18 volumes and more than 234,000 lines. Named after the warrior Manas, the epic also records the lives of his descendants for eight generations, depicting how the Manas family led Kirgiz tribes against marauders, brought traitors to justice and empowered the weak.

Manas is a large-scale heroic epic of the Kirgiz people. [Photo/IC]

The epic is mainly performed without instrumental accompaniment by one singer, called the Manaschi in Kirgiz, sometimes to the sound of kobyz and the voices of many performers. The Manas performance combines both scripted and improvisational styles, and the Manaschis, most of whom are male and trained in a master-apprentice pattern, can also create their own melodies and tunes.

The performance of the Manas epic carries multiple social functions among Kirgiz people. [Photo/VCG]

The Epic of Manas mirrors the historical developments and the customs of the Kirgiz people, as well as the exchanges between the East and the West in ancient times. Its presentations carry multiple social functions, including entertainment, public education and praying for blessings. In 2009, Manas was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

Copyright©2024 China Daily. All rights reserved.


京公网安备 11010502032503号 京公网安备 11010502032503号