Ornamental art is characteristic of Central Asia Forms derive from typical local features (desert vegetation, rams’ horns, shapes of nomadic yurta (tents), moon and sun. Forms are stylized and abstracted. Prohibition of representation of living organisms by Islam reinforced ornamental tendency.
Central Asian Music Characterized by improvisation It is the vehicle which preserved literature for centuries (all poetry was sung to musical accompaniment) The earliest musicians of Central Asia were the shamans who healed through magic
The dombra or dombira is a pear- shaped wooden instrument with three or more gut strings. The dombra or dombira is common to most of Central Asia
Kiu = wordless melody played on dombira Kiu can tell a story or depict a scene
This kiu depicts horsemen galloping across the steppe.
Akyn or bard performs songs or tales accompanying himself on the dombira
Rakmanqul Berdibai (Kazak Academy of Sciences, Folklore Department) plays kiu on dombra
Folk Instrument Orchestra of Kurmangazy Conservatory (Almaty, Kazakstan)
Kobyz is an ancient bowed instrument made of wood, camel skin and horsehair strings. The most famous composition for the kobyz depicts the death of a swan shot by a hunter’s arrow.
Central Asian literature was long preserved by oral tradition Until recently prejudice has endorsed written literature and devaluated oral literature. Oral tradition emphasizes improvisation. Akyn or bards with extraordinary memory chanted epic poetry and demonstrated skill at improvisation.
Manas Kirgiz national epic poem At least 1000 years old Blends mythology with tale of migration of Kirgiz people from Enisei basin
Yusuf Khass Khadjib Balasaguni, “The Knowledge of Royal Happiness” (1069)
Alisher Navoi (1441-1501) Divan or Khamsa (a collection of five narrative poems) Illuminated manuscript in Beruni Institute of Oriental Studies (Tashkent)
Majlis or feast at home of Alisher Navoi Miniature from manuscript of “Majnun and Laili” 16 th Century
Alisher Navoi Miniature from illuminated manuscript of narrative poem entitled “Seven Planets”
Abai Kunanbai (1845-1904) Poet and teacher Father of written literature in Kazak
Mukhtar Auezov (1897-1961) His novel “The Path of Abai” (1949) won the Lenin Prize for literature
Auezov’s drama “Enlik and Kebek” (a Kazak Romeo and Juliet) first performed in this yourta in 1917 marked the beginning of Kazak theater.
SUMMARY Central Asian art is typically ornamental Central Asian music is characterized by improvisation. Central Asian literature place a high priority on oral tradition. The epic poetry of Central Asia embodies the moral aspirations and values of its people and constitutes a record of the history of Central Asia