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Epic Moonlik-Zarlyk.

Epics of Kazakhstan.

"If myth collides with myth, it is an eminently real clash"

Stanislav Jerzy Lec.

Trip from Almaty to Kyzylorda.

Inside the fence, there is an amazing peace and the pacification of the off-site just do not want to leave ... So who are they, the heroes of the little-known epic "Munlyk-Zarlyk"? What is the story of this epic? I was able to reconstruct the big picture by interviewing several people.
The powerful ruler Shansharkhan lived in these places, who had sixty wives, and none of them could give birth to him. The sixty-first wife was the beautiful Hanshaim. Once, when the khan was on a long campaign, she gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl.
However, the envious wives informed the khan that the Hanshaim had two puppies. The angry ruler ordered to send the "queen and offspring" to one of the islands of the Syr Darya. And the boy and the girl, at the instigation of the khan's wives, were thrown into the river by some evil sorceress.
However, the children were saved by good spirits, and a female saiga fed them with her milk. The spirits named the girl Munlyk, and the boy Zarlyk. They settled in a cave among the picturesque hills of Shogirlitau, on the right bank of the Syr Darya.
The grown up young man was engaged in hunting, and his sister studied all the properties of medicinal and poisonous herbs. Meanwhile, the unfortunate Hanshaim, confident that she really gave birth to puppies, nursed them with her breast and lived on the river island.
Once on a hunt, Shansharkhan accidentally meets Zarlyk, they engage in single combat, from which Zarlyk emerges victorious. Returning to his headquarters, the khan begins to bitterly curse fate, which never gave him children.
Having learned about the essence of the incident, the wives of the khan guess that the children of the Hanshaim are alive. They again call on the evil sorceress Mystan-Kempir, generously endow her and ask them to finally remove the twins from the world. Mystan-kempir goes to Shogirlitau.
The sorceress found Munlyk alone in the cave and said that her brother Zarlyk had been married from the cradle to the daughter of the neighboring ruler Kulmeskhan and it was high time for him to get a bride. Returning from the hunt, Zarlyk, having provided his sister with the necessary supplies, immediately went for the bride.
The calculation of Mystan-Kempir was that the proud khan would execute the impudent ragamuffin... On the way, Zarlyk met Kulmeskhan, who was engaged in hunting. Not knowing that it was his future father-in-law, the young man innocently told him his story.
And here the khan laughed, which was very surprised by his entire retinue, since until now no one had heard the laughter of the ruler. The khan promised to tell the nobles at headquarters about why he was laughing.
“This young man is the son of a ruler much more powerful than me, and he walks like a ragamuffin,” said Kulmss-khan upon returning to the headquarters. And after that he gives his daughter to wife Zarlyk. After the wedding, Zarlyk with his young wife and a caravan of 70 loaded camels goes to his sister.
A messenger hurries ahead of the caravan, but his sister does not answer him. And when Zarlyk himself comes to the Munlyk cave, he begins to bitterly reproach him for not taking care of her, but arranging only his personal life.
Such black thoughts were inspired by Munlyk Mystan-kempir. In the end, Moonlik demands from his brother to find them. Zarlyk goes in search. On the way, he meets a saiga that runs from a young hunter towards the island where Hanshaim lives.
When very little remains to the target, the saiga turns into an old man and disappears. Meanwhile, two Hanshaim dogs pull her to meet Zarlyk. A happy meeting between mother and son has happened! And then a meeting with his daughter, and finally with his father.
Everyone is happy. But this epic is sad, it is not for nothing that in the Kazakh language the concept of "moonlik-zarlyk" means sorrow and disaster. Soon the Dzungars came to these places. And the heroes of the epic die in battles.
The last to die was Munlyk, who was taken prisoner. The girl at the feast poisoned the enemy generals and poisoned herself. Therefore, her grave is located several kilometers from the graves of her son and mother.
The cemetery, which we visited, is a historical site; here, when digging graves, whole medieval ceramic vessels are often found. Maybe they were once used by the heroes of the sad epic...

Alexey Goncharov. “History without a conjuncture. Geography around us. " Almaty, 2013.