Abai’s Vocab Words and Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan

Two unrelated topics but both are in Central Asia.  Yesterday I showed Kazakh proverbs I pulled out from the Words of Wisdom by Abai, translated works of his that are up on the Web for your own perusal.  Just to give you an idea of some of the concepts Abai wrote about, read the following list of Kazakh words with their English meanings:

aga: an elder
arshin: an old measuring rod equivalent to 28 inches
aul: village, nomadic community
ay at: quoatation from the Qur’an, verse of a surah
batyr: brave warrior, hero
bey (bai): in Central Asia, a wealthy owner of land and livestock
biy: local judge among the Kazakhs
chapan: horseman’s cloak or mantle
dombra: stringed musical instrument
dzhigit: expert horseman in the Caucasus and Central Asia
dzhut: mass starvation of cattle in winter resulting in famine Fatihab al-kitab. the frst surah of the Qur’an
Hadith: account of the words and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad and his companions, second only to the Qur’an
hazret: Muslim priest
iman: faith
ishan: lowest rank of clergy
jomart: generous man who does charitable deeds
khadi (cadi): Muslim judge
kobyz: stringed musical instrument
koumiss: mare’s milk
myrza: nobleman vested with power, philanthropist
Nogai: Kazakh name for Tatars
nokai: dull, stupid
qibla: orientation towards Mecca and the Black Stone of the sacred Kabah building in that city, to which Muslims turn when praying
surah: chapter of the Qur’an
Surt-Sart: rattle, overtalkative person
tarikat: here, a religious doctrine preaching spiritual self-perception through strict abstinence and complete humility
top-basy: tribal elder
uyezd: larger administrative district
volost: small rural district
yel-basy: tribal chief

If you have looked at the list of vocabulary words and their definitions in English, then you have a sense of how different this land of Kazakhstan is.  It’s southern neighbor Kyrgyzstan, which shares a lot of the same nomadic tribal characteristics, has been in the news a lot lately, since April 7th.  I just heard from an American friend who lives in Bishkek that they had a Kyrgyz friend who was beaten up.  She turned to her friends for help and these Americans automatically called the Kyrgyz police to make a report.  What is eerie is that the police were more interested in the American’s documents than in taking care of the victim.  She was later housed in what they thought was a safe place to rest and hide from her attackers.  However, that evening four men broke into the “safe” place and tried to steal money from the safe, took a computer and some other things.  They had tied up this poor Kyrgyz woman and beaten her a second time.  Needless to say, she is traumatized and in the hospital for about a week.

As if I needed more bad news, I looked at a YouTube clip of bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan which was produced by Al Jazeera English titled “Witness.” Check out this link to see for yourself.  I had never heard about this “traditional” practice before until I taught in Bishkek back in 1993.  I had been assured by my Kyrgyz students that this practice was prohibited and that their aunts and moms had been kidnapped as young women but it was against the law back in the early 1990s.  Well, it seems that the lawlessness continues unabated today!  I could not sleep after watching the two parts of what a young Kyrgyz woman went through. It shows like reality t.v. but it does not have a happy ending and is full of shame for the girl who was kidnapped to essentially be a slave girl to the mother-in-law.  What would Abai say about bride kidnapping I wonder?

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