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175th anniversary of the great Kazakh thinker and poet Abay Kunanbayev

175th anniversary of the great Kazakh thinker and poet

Abay Kunanbayev

This year marks the 175th anniversary of the great poet and thinker Abay Kunanbayev (1845 - 1904).

The anniversary of Abay Kunanbayev will be celebrated at the international level, including in the framework of UNESCO. This is a great pride both for our country and for all people of Kazakhstan.

Abay Kunanbayev is a great poet of Kazakh people, philosopher - humanist, composer and exquisite master of artistic word. His true name is Ibrahim, but the nickname Abay (in Kazakh, Abay means “attentive”, “cautious”) given by his grandmother Zere has been attached to him for the entire life.

А. Kunanbayev was born on August 10, 1845 in Semipalatinsk region on the slopes of the Shyngystau mountains, near the Kaskabulak spring (Abay district of East Kazakhstan region). Abay is sprung from a noble and rich family of biys and aristocrats “Tobykty”.

The person who contributed most to Abay’s early attraction to the art of words and knowledge was his grandmother Zere. Being well-versed in the folk literary treasury, she succeeded in instilling in her grandson the desire and love for knowledge, and became his first educator and teacher. His grandmother was notable for her kind heartedness and sensitive perception of the surrounding world.

Abay Kunanbayev contributed to the dissemination of the Russian and European culture among Kazakhs.

Abay’s mindset formation was influenced by poets and scholars of the East, who followed humanistic ideas (Ferdowsi, Alisher Navaiy, Nizami, Fuzuli,  Ibn Sina and others), as well as by creations of Russian classics, and through them – by European literature in general. He translated works of Krylov, Lermontov, Pushkin, Goethe and Byron.

Abay created about 170 pieces of poetry and 56 translations, wrote poems, prose poem “Kara soz” – “Words of edification” (“Kara sozder”), consisting of 45 brief parables or philosophical treatises. These “Edifications” raise issues of history, pedagogy, morality and rights of ethnic Kazakhs. He was also a composer and created about two dozen melodies that are popular in modern times.