Abai Qunanbaiuli

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Абай Құнанбайұлы
Abay Qunanbayuli
Абай Құнанбаев
اباي قونانبايولي
Abai Kunanbaev
Born Abay (Ibrahim) Qunanbayuli
(1845-08-10)10 August 1845
Karauyl, Abay District, East Kazakhstan Province, Kazakhstan
Died 6 July 1904(1904-07-06) (aged 58)
Karauyl, Abay District, East Kazakhstan Province, Kazakhstan
Occupation Akyn
Nationality Kazakhstan Kazakh
Ethnicity Kazakh
Notable works The Book of Words

Abay (Ibrahim) Qunanbayuli (Kazakh: Абай (Ибраһим) Құнанбайұлы ) (August 10, 1845 – July 6, 1904) was a great Kazakh poet, composer and philosopher. He was also a cultural reformer toward European and Russian cultures on the basis of enlightened Islam.


Early life and education[edit]

Photo of Abay

Abay was born in what is today the selo of Karauyl, in Abay District, East Kazakhstan Province; the son of Qunanbay and Uljan, Qunanbay's second wife, they named him Ibrahim, but because of his brightness, he soon was given the nickname "Abay" (meaning "careful"), a name that stuck for the rest of his life. His father's economic status enabled the boy to attend a Russian school in his youth, but only after he had already spent some years studying at a madrasah under Mullah Ahmet Ryza.[citation needed] At his school in Semipalatinsk, Abay encountered the writings of Mikhail Lermontov and Alexander Pushkin.


Abay's main contribution to Kazakh culture and folklore lies in his poetry, which expresses great nationalism and grew out of Kazakh folk culture. Before him, most Kazakh poetry was oral, echoing the nomadic habits of the people of the Kazakh steppes. During Abay's lifetime, however, a number of important socio-political and socio-economic changes occurred. Russian influence continued to grow in Kazakhstan, resulting in greater educational possibilities as well as exposure to a number of different philosophies, whether Russian, Western or Asian. Abay Qunanbayuli steeped himself in the cultural and philosophical history of these newly opened geographies. In this sense, Abay's creative poetry affected the philosophical thinking of educated Kazakhs.

Kazakh great writer[edit]

Kazakh writer,poet,lyricist,social philosopher. Born in Kazakhstan in Semey province, Abai Qunanbayuli was educated at home and then sent to a medressa where he learned Arabic and Persian and became acquainted with Eastern literature and poetry. In Semey he actively participated in the city's intellectual life, studied Rushian and Western classics by Pushkin, Lermontov and etc. and translated many of them for the first time into Kazakh language.


Abai devoted many of his works to the violence of Kazakh labour rights e.g. "oh my Kazakh!My poor people!". Number of works were devoted to youth: "Our children", "Only youth-happy flower of life". And a real treasure is his poems expressing his feelings and love to the nature of his location:"Autumn", "Winter"."Summer" and "Fall".

   As a gifted interpreter Abai gave Kazakh people to enjoy the pearls of russian classic literature. During 15 years he translated more than 50 works of russian writers like Pushkin,Lermontov, Krylov, Tolstoi etc.Abai's literary legacy also includes a number of ballads dedicated to eastern
and western themes. Among these fictional pieces like "Mas'ud"(1887) and "Alexander".
    Qunanbayev's works  were influenced by his belief in human reason. He was attracted to Western Enlightenment thinking and wove criticism of Kazakh culture into his works, most notably in his collection of poems called Quarasozder(the book of Words).
     Despite the fact that many years have passed, several generations have changed since Abai times,"Book of Words" is actual today as never 

before , it is our reference point in life. This book includes different topics-Kazakhstan history, love for fatherland, culture, people's psychology and philosophy of life.

Book of Words[edit]

In his amazing Book of Words the poet expressed his reflections over a period of years, his searching and discoveries, anxiety and despair, sorrows and joy of revelations, anger and humility. His Book of Words is a deeply meaningful way to truth. The poet tirelessly reminds that humans have the greatest  value in the world, and that they should be beautiful and harmoniously perfect. Their souls should also be beautiful, as should their mind,body and feelings. Understanding of the real world and the personal responsibility of everyone in the world-this is what the great poet worked for his art and life. Abai explains that the world is eternal, united and harmonious. Discord, anguish, even death cannot destroy the harmony, for they are natural.


Post mark of Soviet Union honoring Abay

The leaders of the Alash Orda movement saw him as their inspiration and spiritual predecessor.

Contemporary Kazakh images of Abay generally depict him in full traditional dress holding a dombra (the Kazakh national instrument). Today, Kazakhs revere Abay as one of the first folk heroes to enter into the national consciousness of his people. Almaty State University is named after Abay, so is one of the main avenues in the city of Almaty. There are also public schools with his name.

The Kazakh city of Abay is named after him.

Among Abay's students was his nephew, a historian, philosopher, and poet Shakarim Qudayberdiuli (1858–1931).

Statues of him have been erected in many cities of Kazakhstan, as well as in Moscow.

A film on the life of Abay was made by Kazakhfilm in 1995, titled Abai. He is also the subject of two novels by Mukhtar Auezov, another Kazakhstani writer.


Monument to Abay at Baykonur, Kazakhstan

Abay also translated into Kazakh the works of Russian and European authors, mostly for the first time. Translations made by him include poems by Mikhail Lermontov, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Lord Byron, Ivan Krylov's Fables and Alexander Pushkin's Eugene Onegin.

Abay's major work is The Book of Words (Kazakh: қара сөздері, Qara sözderi), a philosophic treatise and collection of poems where he encourages his fellow Kazakhs to embrace education, literacy, and good moral character in order to escape poverty, enslavement and corruption. In Word Twenty Five, he discusses the importance of Russian culture, as a way for Kazakhs to be exposed to the world's cultural treasures.

Moscow protests in May 2012[edit]

On May 9, 2012, following two days of protests in Moscow following Vladimir Putin's inauguration as President of the Russian Federation for the third term, protesters set up camp near the monument to Abai Qunanbaiuli on the Chistoprudny Boulevard in central Moscow, close to the embassy of Kazakhstan. The statue quickly became a reference point for the protest's participants.[1] OccupyAbai was among the top ranking hash-tags in Twitter for several day thanks to Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny who set up a meeting with his followers next to Abai Kunanbayev’s monument in Moscow that he called "a monument to some unknown Kazakh". This spurred a wave of indignation among ethnic Kazakhs who highly esteem Abai. This also brought Abai's poetry into the top 10 AppStore downloads.[2]


  1. ^ Vinokurova, Ekaterina (May 10, 2012). "May protests in Moscow: The Whats and Whys". Gazeta.ru. Retrieved 12 May 2012. 
  2. ^ "Russia had to provide security of Kazakhstan embassy during OccupyAbai campaign". Tengrinews.kz English. Retrieved 18 May 2012. 

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