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Shopan ata necropolis.

Popular hikes from Akatau.

“I've known rivers:
I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins. My soul has grown deep like the rivers” 

Langston Hughes.

Mountains Mangyshlak.

The Shopan ata necropolis is located in the southeastern part of the Mangyshlak plateau in the western part of the Tyshkankum sands, 30.4 kilometers northeast of the Kyzylsay village, 12 kilometers to the east and slightly south of the Bostankum village and 5.8 kilometers to the east and slightly north of the small village of Kyzylsu in the Karakiya district of the Mangistau region.
The Shopan ata necropolis is located on the route of the old caravan road from Mangyshlak to Khorezm and is the most extensive and, possibly, the oldest in Kazakhstan. Shopan ata necropolis is an architectural monument of the XIXth and early XXth centuries.
In terms of area and number of monuments (about 2 thousand), it belongs to one of the largest ancient complexes of burial and cult structures in Western Kazakhstan. It is divided into two parts: Kazakh (Adayev) and Turkmen.
The necropolis stretches on both sides of a shallow narrow ravine that descends from the southwest to the northeast along the slope of the Shopan ata hill. Koitases come in a variety of sizes, from small stepped to giant ones.
But they are all of the same type and archaic, often on top they are covered with relief and contour decor of a simple motive (triangles, rosettes), drawings of household items, images of horses and other animals.
Armed horsemen on tombstones with characteristic accessories axes (aibalta), sabers (kylysh) ', saddle bags (at kor-zhyn), quivers with arrows (sadak). The gravestones here are more varied in terms of the architectural-volumetric solution and are decorated more interestingly (volumetric, flat-relief, contour carving, painting).
Closer to the center of the necropolis, kulpytases with koitases prevail, among them there are monuments of a transitional type from early to later (Adayevsky). Tombstones and steles are stylistically and compositionally diverse, which testifies to the existence of stone-cutters from various schools.
The creation of the complex is obviously associated with the activities of a medieval Sufi hermit, whose legendary connection with Yassavi allows us to outline an approximate lower dating of the monument – XII - XIII centuries. Subsequently, the Turkmen, and then the Kazakh cemetery grows here.
The entrance to the necropolis is located on the southeast side, there is also an ancient well with a waterfall stone trough and later gravestones made of silicate bricks. In the southwestern part there is an underground mosque and the Shopan ata tomb, as well as the most ancient gravestones, possibly built by the Oguz-Kipchak tribes who periodically lived here during the X - XIV centuries.
These monuments are primitive fences, mausoleums without a dome - saganats, walls-kulyptases and koitases, which, as a result of weathering, turned into shapeless ruins. Despite the severe destruction, one can distinguish among them separate, Turkmen-type flat walls. In the eastern (Kazakh) part of the beyit, there are many saganatams, domed mausoleums, kulpytas with koitases, sandyktas, and ushtas-type tombstones.
In the northeastern parts of the Shopan Ata necropolis, there is also a large number of domeless mausoleums built in the 19th century and differing from the Turkmen ones in style and generic tamgas. The Shopan Ata necropolis was explored in 1952 by an architectural expedition led by Malbagar Mendikulov, in 1977 - 1978 - by an expedition of the Ministry of Culture of the Kazakh SSR and in 1982 by an expedition of the Republican Society for the Protection of Historical and Cultural Monuments.
Geographic coordinates of the Shopan ata necropolis: N43 ° 32'57.82 "E53 ° 23'21.73"

"Religious and Spiritual Monuments of Central Asia". Author M. Khashimov. Publishing house "Saga", 2001.

Photos by
Alexander Petrov.