Akyns or aqyns (Kazakh: ақын, [ɑqə́n], Kyrgyz: акын, [ɑqɯ́n]) are improvising poets and singers in the Kazakh and Kyrgyz cultures. Akyns differs from the so-called zhiraus, who are epic storytellers and a song performers. Akyns improvise in the form of a song-like recitative to the accompaniment of a dombra (among Kazakhs) or a qomuz (among Kyrgyz). Considering the nomadic lifestyle and illiteracy of most of the rural population in Central Asia in pre-Soviet times, akyns played an important role in terms of expressing people's thoughts and feelings, exposing social vices, and glorifying heroes.
Akyns are known modernly for performing aytys.
- Nurmakhan, Zhanash: Kazaktyn 5000 akyn-zhyrauy. Almaty 2008. ISBN 9965-742-70-7 (In Kazakh)