THE LAST OF THE THARTAY KIN

My head is feverish when I recall all this! But I shall loosen my tongue and make it tell you everything that happened.

Just listen?

My name is Djalyk. I am the son of Burnak, Tashkai's son of the Thartay family. My tamga* is a fox's tail. And once I was quite a good warrior. Yeah. Formerly I was called akhakal* and biy*. And I lived fairly well. My dwelling was not far from the high hill Ceyale–tub. My herds of cattle were grazing under the supervision of a head shepherd, whom I appointed chief over others. He was of Kalmyk people and had an ability to see fairly well at night because he never put salt into his soup. He was taken prisoner by me. He tried to escape but I captured him. I nailed his ear to a wooden trough from which horses are watered. I made him my slave. That's that.

I was young and strong. I had enough strength to cany a two–year–old colt on my hands. When my first son was born I was as old as eight multiplied by four plus one more year.

I had three wives. They made a bed of a soft carpet for me when I, drunk from koumiss*, went to have a rest. I went to falconry with my own falcon. I drank koumiss. I made merry. Yeah, that was the time of my life.

When Tura–Mangu1sent me his order, I sent it back.

And added to it a partly broken arrow and a dead mouse2.I laughed at him. I had my own pernach 3 and tamga. I had a free hand to dispose of them as I liked. I was both an akhakal and biy.

Ha! Ha! Tura–Myangu has had his share of mud!

In order to take his revenge he got together his men and declared war on me. Gopher! He stopped on the right bank of the Ak–hyu river and ordered his stupid men to shout "Ur! Ur!" My men were laughing and whistling back at them pressing fingers to their lips.

Shortly my arrow found a way to Tura–Myangu's throat and he got drowned in the river.

So it happened.

That's how I had been living before Temir came with his myrthas* and atabaks*.

Listen further!

I shall tell you about my children. There were two of them. Both of them were sons. When the first one was born I gave him the name of Karmasan. I named the second boy Sarmasan, in memory of my father's brother.

They are both gone.

They abandoned the power of light.

But their names are branded on my heart!

Death is the cup from which all the living beings have to drink.

Oh Lord! Blessed be their holy graves!

I shall say:

They were quite unlike one another though they were the children of one and the same mother whose name was Ulkun.

The elder brother was half a head taller than the younger one and his eyes were like ripe berries of black currants after a rain.

He was always as brave and courageous as a wounded golden eagle. That was what I saw later:

Timer's4 barlasy* killed the horse under him. Already murtha* Kotlobak's lasso was about to place itself around his neck. But he bounced up, seized Kotlobak and jumped from the rock to the water together with him. His cudgel cracked iron–clad heads of atabeks like ripe nuts. Never hi his life his arrow missed a target. He was a yeget*.

Also Sarmasan.

Hey, brothers! Have you ever seen a young black poplar by the river? It grows straight because it is slender. Yeah. And if the wind shakes it, it moves softly. It is always beautiful. That's that. My son Sarmasan was of the same kind. He charmed my ear by his songs, he was very good at playing the kurai*. He was both a singer and a brave warrior. And that was very good. I loved him. I loved them both. They were my children, they were glorious bogatyrs*, their names will always remain in our memories.

Oh, Lord! Give them your blessing!

Listen:

Akhakal Kara–Abyth had a daughter who outshone even a summer moon by her beauty. Her hair was much darker than a raven's wing. But her complexion was lighter than a fresh yellow circle of cheese from sheep's milk. And when she looked there was fire in her eyes.

A heavenly maiden!

Her name was Aibika. She did not dye her brows black, neither did she varnish her nails red. She was young and beautiful.

And thus:

I saw her; I said to my son Karmasan: "My dear son! Your brother is still young. And you know that across the Ak–hyu river lives the akhakal Kara–Abyth. He has a girl – Aibika. A man born by a woman looks for a woman to give birth to his own kin!"

I said these words to Karmasan. And he understood me, he did not say "I don't know", neither did he say "I don't want". He was my son.

I sent three herds of sheep and half a herd of horses to Kara–Abyth. I secured a wife to Karmasan.

And I arranged a big wedding feast. My guests were drinking mead and koumiss*. They had been singing various songs until a messenger came.

Good Lord! Give me patience!

My thoughts get confused like wet hair in a tail of a scabby horse. But I will have patience and I will go on speaking.

Thus:

We were sitting, we were drinking koumiss, we were having a feast. Everything was all right. Evening came.

When the songs faded away I could hear a ringing sound of mares being milked and chirring of green grasshoppers somewhere at a distance. I stood up. I started on my way. Everything was quiet as it was needed. I cast a glance at the sky: there wasn't a single cloud.

The Great Bear was shining high up, it was so much like a turned over scoop for koumiss. All its stars were shining like jewels which are set into hilts of sabres by Cherchek craftsmen5. Yeah, everything around was quiet, but I had some misgivings, I was filled with apprehensions.

And then he made his appearance: the first messenger. I remember: there was a fatigued stallion underneath him. There was bitter smelling foam coming down bis sides to the ground.

That's what the messenger said. He told me:

– Chief! I am riding from aimak of Barak6 which is near a big place of Yabyk–Karagai. I have brought a message. Oh! Timer Khan – I wish his eyes were blind! – is coming here from the southern direction. He leads a lot of warriors with him. Yeah.

They are as many as filthy flies in a dry hot summer. And his myrthas* and atabaks* are with him. They are moving here across the mountains. Their green banners are already visible at this side of the Yayik (Ural) river.

Such was the news I heard from him. And my eyes were not aflame with fire, I did not get cross with this poor messenger. I did not order to cut off his tongue and hang it on his neck for his bad news.

No! I invited him into my tent and gave him food. He was my guest I put everything right

 

* * *

 

That's true! The messenger's news was not false. So it happened. They came.

This happened at the time when a cuckoo, the bird unable to make a family, stopped singing in the forest.

Horses! Horses! A countless number of them and they were moving in great multitudes. They were so many. My slave Djungar – cursed be his stinking name! – fled to them to show the ford across the Ak–hyu. Then they took their turhyks*, they filled them with air, they crossed the Ak–hyu.

I saw their squeaky bullock carts first beyond the nearest hill, which is to the right of Ccyale tuba. They were at a distance of three flights of an arrow but I saw their faces, I understood:

They were bringing death and slavery.

I knew:

Their horses and camels would drink and pollute our waters, they will stamp out our fields.

I went away. I prayed to Saint Khusein–Bak7 of the land of Turkestan but be did not hear me. I appealed to Kadyr–el–lslam8 but he did not come to defend our dwellings We were alone.

Then I stood up, then I exclaimed:

"Death to the enemy!"

I saw Karmasan and Sarmasan in front of me.

They were breathing heavily. Their eyes said:

"Come on!"

And – my sons went.

Late after midnight we drove our tents far off from Chiyaly–Tub and drove away our cattle. We summoned all the men who could carry a cudgel and a sword. We formed a regiment We were not so many as Temir's men but each one of us was a gallant warrior.

I know:

Our hearts were filled with courage and hatred. We were going to defend our forests, our steppes. We did not want slavery. And then Temir's bathkak* came to us and demanded "soil and water" – I sent him away. No. I ordered to smear him with honey and place him in an ant–hill. Ha! how did he squeal then! Like a puppy when it is hit by a stick!

It was a glorious fight!

Not once did I break my sword against hard shields of atabaeks*. Not once did I make them bite and scratch it by their finger–nails. I tried sharpness of my sword on the heads of yuz–bashi* and common warriors.

Temir himself— I wish a snake bit him! – heard the whiz of my arrow.

Ah–ha! I knew what was the meaning of decisiveness and a smart blow off the left shoulder!

I saw Karmasan: he tore Torghot bei's suit of armour to tatters by his bare hands as if it were a threadbare garment of camel's wool. Yeah. His fist was heavier and stronger than an elk's hoof. His fists clenched only to strangle enemies' throats. He killed many of Temir's batyrs*.

Sarmasan!

He was with me, I saw: his sword was briskly fluttering amongst enemie's blades. His steed pranced every moment to bite enemie's faces...

We were fighting.

All of us were hardy, we were valiant, we were fighters. We were sung praises. But we were few in number and we were retreating.

No, no! We were not fleeing!

 

* * *

 

I shall tell you.

When one is wounded in a stomach or a chest – it is a sure death. Be it a steed or a warrior.

Karmasan and Sarmasan!

Why should I be saying that you died?

Be sure:

I left good memories of you to people. There are two rivers beyond the Ak–hyu which wind like a silver inscription from Al–Koran over the threshold of Gazi mosque9. They had no names then, we did not attach any names to them. And I gave them your names, I buried you there.

My dearest kids!

May there be Prophet's mercy with you!

And then:

I left. I avenged you. Yeah, I did not take anyone prisoner, I was just killing.

Groans of beaten enemy are like music to a warrior's ear. Enemy's pleas for mercy gladden his heart. Who will dare deny this?

I clogged my ears by hatred, my eyes were blazing with vengeance. Yeah. Yeah. I did not take anyone prisoner, I was only killing. I pulled out eyes from their sockets, I put salt there, I dug them into the ground. And it was good. Enemies called me a highway–robber for this.

Aha, I was taking my revenge!

Be aware: it was Tyatigas and me who crossed the Dim river in the spring flood and murdered Ulukai! He was lying by the fire, surrounded by his batyrs. But our hands were yet strong enough at that time to make them die. And they were five times as many as we were. There were only two of us and the night.

Ha! It was such a great fun!

We murdered all of them, we cut their ears and threw them into hot ashes of the tire. We were winners!

I remember:

I met Tughai–bei. He was riding somewhere alone accompanied by a young Kalmyk. Damnation! He dared shout bad words at me, poisonous like a root of hellebore. And I did what I had to do. I rode my horse hard, I overtook him, I cut his head off!.. And then, – all the people must know this! – I sent this head to Temir himself, – may fire bum him down! –the one who was nicknamed Akhak for his lame leg.

That's what I did.

I was taking my revenge.

My enemies feared me more than a grey hare fears a vulture. They turned their backs to me even before I could make a stroke by ray sword, On hearing my name they started to shiver as little silly foals are shivering when they hear a wolfs howling.

Ha–ha! They called me a highway–robber! Cowards! May there a filthy cesspit be your grave!

 

* * *

 

The fate of a man bom in the year of a snow leopard is like a spring wind, fickle as a woman, who is all warmth and cold. That's that.

But I shall say:

The taste of bitter and sweet is known only to the one who tasted it.

Now the roads of destiny have brought me at last to the sunset of my life and I don't need anything. Everything is all over for me. I lost my dwelling, I lost my herds of cattle, I lost everything. Now I am a homeless dog picking bones. I am a badger who lost its barrow.

Now I am wandering from place to place and warming myself at other people's hearths. They give me only a shoulder of mutton when I take pot luck at other people's homes. I am also wearing a second–hand gown and sleeping on a mat of camel's hair that doesn't belong to me.

I am poor as a church mouse!

I am a beggar.

Where are my friends who used to hold my hands before?

They are nowhere to be found.

Where is Sarym batyr? Where is Tyatigas? Where is Khani–Uglan? They are gone. Their eyes leaked into the soil long ago.

I am alone. I am the last of the Thartay kin.

But remember:

I was far from the worst fighter!

I was previously called akhakal* and biy*!

Yeah.

And now I am old. I shall die.

Let it be so.

 


The tale "The Last of the Thartay Kin" occupies an intermediate position between folklore and literature. It was preserved as a written document, that is why peculiarities of literary documents prevail in its style. Along with it the following features of folklore are revealed in the narration: the principle of authenticity (the exact description of the place, time of action, the characters participating in the events), the usage of folklore motifs, formulas, expressive means (most vividly revealed in images of Sarmasan and Karmasan).

In the tale "The Last of the Thartay Kin" on the example of the Thartay family the events of the end of the XIV c. are described, the tragic time in the fate of Bashkort people during their fierce fights of Tamerlan (Akhak??“Timer) with Tohktamysh, the khan of the Golden Horde. The Thartay family is one of ancient Bashkort tribes.


1) Tura??“Mangu (Mengu ture) is a representative of a ruling Mogul dynasty of Mengu. The period of its rule is mainly the XIII cent: Tchinghiz??“khan's descendant Mengu??“khan ruled in 1251??“1552, Mengu??“Timer ??“ 1266??“1282, Tura??“Mengu ??“1282??“1287. ??“ Sovetskaya istoricheskaya entsiktopediya (Soviet Historical Encyclopaedia). Vol. V. M., 1964. P. 702; BSh. P. 190. The Mengu Tura, referred to in the tale, was one of the last representatives of the Mengu dynasty.


2) Added to it (the written order ??“ F. N.) a partly broken arrow and a dead mouse ??“an allegoric way of expressing a threat (if you come to fight with me, you will break an STOW, f e. perish).


3) Pernach is a bird. Earlier every Bashkort tribe had its own symbol ??“ war??“cry fan) and tamga Here the word "pernach" (bird) is used in this meaning


4) Timer ??“ Tamerlan (Akhak Timer).


5) Cherchek craftsmen ??“ craftsmen from Chirchik (Uzbekistan).


6) Aimak of Barak (barak aimagy) ??“ as is known from the legend "Buryans in khan's time" a clan of "Barak" is included into the Buryan tribe.


7) Khusein??“bak is a missionary who preached Islam among Bashkorts (XIV cent). His mausoleum is situated near Chishmy village in the Chishmy region of Bashkortostan.


8) Kadyr??“el??“Islam obviously is one of the highest religious hierarchs.