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THE GREAT EPIC "MANAS"

  The great epos "Manas" is the biggest epic poetic narration in the world. It contains more then a million lines and is 20 times bigger then Oddisey and Illiad together and 2,5 times bigger then Mahabharaty. It appeared more then a thousand years ago and was passed around and through the centuries by a word of mouth inherited by every next generation sharpened by talented poets who have developed esthetic shape of evry line.

  Manas reflects entire history of kyrgyz people starting from about 10th century. The basis of the epos is description of valorous feats of the central hero Manas uniting his nation suffering from ivasions of foreign tribes and federations. But content of the epos is much wider then traditional heroic narrative. In its texts along with main scenes describing peoples herosm exists peacefull everyday life of nation, its traditions, customs, colorfull descriptions of feasts and funerals.

  Another unique art of Kyrgyz people is tradition of "manaschi" - professional Manas storytellers. People called "manaschi" are welcome and respected in any house. They usualy remember not less then a hundred thousand lines of the epos and share their knoledge with public on special feast occasions in a very colorfull way. Manaschi while improvising and telling parts of the epic fall into a condition very common to trans when they experience and feel themselves a part of what they are telling about. Voice of manaschi turns into singing at most colorfull parts and their gesticulation makes listeners imagine themselves participants of the story as well.

  Heroic Epic Manas is the greatest art-property of the Kyrgyz people, handed down from generation to generation and refined over the centuries, it is a living heritage of the "Aksakal" the wise sages and the "manaschy", the oral narrators. The "EPOS MANAS" contains a wealth of ancient wisdom. It traces the origins and historical roots of many communities of Central Asia, hence it is a most valued ethnological and cultural source material. Today it occupies a most worthy place amongst the masterpieces of popular literature of the world. In recognition Unesco declared the year 1995 as the "Year of Manas".

  The Kyrgyz are by tradition proud nomadic people who excel in horse games, hunting and hospitality. Their creative genius is imbibed in oral narratives such us the Manas. A wealth of oral literature depicts the spiritual vision of their forefathers and well be described as the great "Verbal Art Heritage" of the Kyrgyz people; inestimable cultural property of mankind.

  The EPOS is not something of the past, merely of archaic and historic value. It is a most active tool of practical significance in modern times. A living heritage of a proud and progressive people portraying the cultural image, the spiritual values and nomadic life- styles of the Kyrgyz society. Like the Asian drama, the EPOS is a moralizing force guiding and governing the lives of people in day to day affairs. Manas is a rediscovery of social, cultural and political events in the modern history of sovereign Kyrgyzstan as well as its universal message for mankind.

  The EPOS remains till date a principle source of the origin of professional arts not only of Kyrgyz but also of the art, opera, drama, music, graphics, sculpture, painting and architecture of many communities of Central Asia. It lends historical meanings and unites many communities through common bonds of friendship. It reveals a continuity of ancient communal links over generations. The Epos is indeed a commonwealth of nationalities.

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