About the project
The Manas Epos are Kyrgyz-language stories concerned with the epic hero Manas, his son Semetey, and his grandson Seitek. The earliest transcribed variants of these stories were collected in the mid-nineteenth century, and the earliest sound recording was made in 1903/4.
In the Soviet period, attempts were made to produce a single version of the epos that could be used for academic study. The result, the ‘harmonious’ version, published in the late 1950s, spliced together different versions of the epos by different performers with little indication of editorial methods. The widespread availability of this version in Kyrgyzstan has resulted in the epos being often considered fixed and complete.
Since Independence in 1991, there has been a resurgence of interest in the Manas epos due to the use of the hero as a nation building figure. This has coincided with a reappraisal of the heritage and tradition of performance, a return to seeing the Manas epos as something living and changeable, and not something fixed in text.
The Analyzing Kyrgyz Narratives (AKYN) Research Group was founded at the American University of Central Asia (AUCA) to preserve electronically this rich tradition. On this website, you can find transcribed oral performances by Talantaaly Bakchiev and Dolot Sydykov recorded in 2017 by AKYN.