01.07.2009

Famous tombs of Kazakhstan

Dmitriy VERHOTUROV

From the earliest times Kazakhs worshipped outstanding people of their nation, either being alive or after it. Tombs (Kazakh «Mazar») of the famous people were erected in most visible and beautiful places. Cemeteries of those who regarded those honorable people and wanted to go to its resting place emerged.

2009-07-01-tombs-mazarMany tombs were worshipped as holy sites, many had curing power, and many miracle stories of curing heavily ill people have being connected to them. Long and stormy history of Kazakhs had been imprinted in those tombs.

Visiting tomb in present days is the most affordable kind of informative tourism in Kazakhstan. The thing is that disposition of famous tombs is the easiest thing to find. Almost all of them is regularly being visited by pilgrims, so they are connected by the roads, and you can find the guide if you want to.

There are a lot of tombs in Kazakhstan, but only fifteen to twenty of them are most famous and visiting.

It's worth to start with the most famous tomb in Kazakhstan, the mazahr of Sufi sheik haji Akhmet Yassavi. He was born in Sayram city, near modern Shymkent, in 1103 AD. His first spiritual mentor and tutor was famous sheik Arslan-Bab. After his death, haji Ahmed moved to Bukhara and passed through difficult course of Sufi religion. For some time he was the head of Sufi community in Bukhara, and then moved to Yassi city (modern Turkestan on the South of Kazakhstan). There he started his preaching activity. He died in 1166—1167 AD and was buried with the great honors in the small tomb built for him. This tomb later on became the place of massive pilgrimage and worship by Muslims. A threefold visit of it is equal to hadj in Mecca.

The old tomb of sheik was ruined a long time ago. The one which stands to this day, is connected to the name of another famous man, Timur emir, the great conqueror, more known under the name Tamerlan. In 1389—1395 AD Timur smashed the mighty Golden Horde, the state which had been established by the older son of Genghis Khan, Dzhuchi. He took the and destroyed its capital, the Saray-Berke. After those conquests, Timur decided to build a greater tomb above the sheik's grave to honor his victories. He personally gave the order to start construction and participated in the project development by giving his recommendations to architects. In the same time, he collected metal and ordered to cast the enormous taykazan for the tomb, weighting more than two ton.

In spite of the fact that this huge tomb with more than 3 thousands square meters of area was never completely finished, it impresses with its beauty, elegance and greatness. Since the times of Timur it is surrounded with great worship.

In the same place, very close to hoji Ahmed Yassavi situated the tomb of Kazakh Khan Esim. This famous Khan make a lot for strengthen the Kazakh Khanate in his stormy life. He was decrowned by usurper Khan Tursun, but he succeeded to take the throne back. Khan was successfully defending the boarders of his country from Dzungar raids, and created the law code, known as the «old route of Esim Khan». Esim Khan was buried after his death in 1628 AD not far from the southern wall of Yassaui tomb.

18 kilometers far from Taraz city, in the village named after Aisha Bibi of Dzambul region, on the low hills situated a unique tomb. It was built in XII AD, and, according to the legend, it keeps the remains of Aisha Bibi, a maid that died in wait for her beloved. However, it is no certainty about this tomb, but this is not detractive for the beauty and greatness of this half-ruined ancient mazahr, which is well-known for its decorative terracotta plating. Its bricks were covered by 99 variants of tracery. Near it stands another mazahr, ascribed by the legend to Babadzi-Hatun, the servant of Aisha-Bibi and contemporary of Kara Khan, the ruler of Taraz. His tomb, Aulie-Ata Karakhan, is situated in Taraz city.

In Karaganda district, in the middle of the wild steppe, 50 kilometers far to the north-east of Zheskazgan stands the tomb of the very famous man, the older son of Genghis Khan, Dzuchi, who was presented with those lands by his father. It is relatively not great tomb made from baked brick, with its dome covered in plates with turquoise glazing, looks very impressive in the middle of the wide steppe.

A number of notable tombs situated in Bayanaul district of Pavlodar area, 100 kilometers south of Ekibastuz. It is truly a place of power of Kazakhs. More than 400 well-known scientists, poets, writers of Kazakhstan originated from this lands.

Mashkhur Zusup Kopeyev, well-know Kazakh poet, healer and enlightener was born in Bayanaul area, and was famous for developing the first Kazakh alphabet on the base of arabesque script, the «Usuli Zhadit», and personally disseminated it. In Eskeldy urochishche standing his mausoleum, which has the sophisticated story. Zusup Kopeev died in the beginning of terrible famine, in the end of year 1931. His tomb was surrounded with legends, and thousands of pilgrims were sweep towards it to cure their diseases. In year 1952 the tomb was wrecked, but in 1956, after the criticism of Stalin's cult of personality, Nurila Taskizi, Mashkhur Zusup's daughter-in-law, ventured on extraordinary brave decision and built the new tomb from clay bricks. In 1975, almost demolished tomb was taken to pieces, and new mazahr by design of Bek Ibrayev and Sadvakas Aginayev, well-known architects, was built on its place.

Mashkhur Zusup gave instructors to build mazahr and arrange commemoration for him long before his death. He told his amazed relatives that in the year of his death will be a terrible disaster, and nobody would care about burying. So was happened. He died in a year when people of the steppes were perished by awful famine. His mazahr has reputation of place with curing properties. Venerable aksakal Zaskayrat, who was blind since his birth, was cured from ablepsia when he spent the night near mazahr of Mashkhur Zusup. 17 kilometers far from this mazahr, in Zanazhol aul stands the museum of Mashkhur Zusup, where his personal things, the only photo and house wares are kept.

Near Uzunbulak, aul 80km far from Bayanaul, located the museum of the famous Kazakh poet Bukhar Zirau Kalkamanuly, who was born in 1668 AD and died aged 113 in 1781. He was respectable biy (judge) and advisor of Ablay, Khan of Middle Zhuz (union of Kazakh tribes). Bukhar Zirau took part in making and editing Zheti Zhargy code of laws, which was made under Tauke Khan's reign. He wrote the poetry in Arab, but only 1200 strings left from his poetical legacy.

In 120 km from Almaty, in small place of Shilibastau , close to Uzunagash railway station, situated the tomb of Kurtka Sultanhojiuly, well-known healer and doctor. This man was given a very long life. He was born in 1770, and died in 1906, aged 136. Kurtka was not only competent in secrets of folk healing, but also had medical education, which he attended in Saint-Petersburg University. He cured people until the dawn of his life. Tomb on the place of his grave was built in 2002. Sadly, there is no road to it, and to reach it you need a 4×4.

In Western Kazakhstan there are also famous tombs, which are worth to look at. Particularly, it is the tomb of Abat Baytak near Taldysay, a village in Kobdinskiy district of Aktobe area. It's the tombstone of Golden Horde ages. According to the legend, it's the place where Abat batyr, the son of Kazakh philosopher Asan-Kaygi, was buried. Nevertheless, the archeologists that carefully investigated the tomb before its restoration are not agreeing with the legend. So, the real name of buried is unknown. But it was powerful and respected person, once it has a large cemetery around it, and another tomb of Kyz Malasy (Holy Maid) was built in XVIII DC near it.

At last, it is worth to visit the magnificent mazahrs on Mangyshlak peninsula, which are made from stone and decorated with fretwork. Mangyshlak is the cradle of Kazakh history. There are 362 graves of holy people, around 10, 000 monuments of architecture, including 30 gorgeous domic tombs made from boasted work, famous necropolises of Beket-ata, Shopan-ata, Shakpak-ata, Seysem-ata, Masat-ata, Karaman-ata, Koshkar-ata, Sultan-epe, Khanga-baba, Kenty-baba, Ushtam, Akshora, including necropolis and mosque of Shopan-ata, built by haji Akhmed Yassavi's apprentice, Shopan-ata.

2 comments

  1. Anonymous

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