Magtymguly Pyragy

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Magtymguly Pyragy
A Soviet Union stamp with an artistic depiction of Magtymguly Pyragy, 1983
A Soviet Union stamp with an artistic depiction of Magtymguly Pyragy, 1983
Native name
مختومقلی فراغی
c. 1724 (1724) or (1733-05-18)18 May 1733
Hajji Qushan, Khorasan, Safavid Iran
Diedc. 1807 (1808) (aged 74-83)
Giňjaý, Akdepe (vicinity of the Etrek river), Khorasan, Qajar Iran
Resting placeAq Taqeh-ye Qadim, Golestan Province, Iran
Pen namePyragy (Feraghi)
OccupationSpiritual leader, philosophical poet, sufi, traveller
LanguageTurkmen, Persian, Arabic
Alma materIdris Baba Madrassah, Gögeldaş Madrassah, (Emirate of Bukhara), Şirgazy Madrassah, (Khanate of Khiva)
PeriodGolden Age of Turkmen literature
GenrePoetry, qoshuk form
SubjectPatriotism, social inequality, love
Literary movementRealism
Notable worksTürkmeniň
SpouseAkgyz (disputed)
Children2 sons
ParentsDöwletmämmet Azady, Orazgül (disputed)

Magtymguly Pyragy (Persian: مختومقلی فراغیMakhtumqoli Farāghi; Turkmen: Magtymguly Pyragy; Turkmen pronunciation: [mɑɡtɯmɡʊlɯ pɯɾɑɡɯ]; Turkish: Mahtumkulu Firaki;[1] c. 1724-1733[2][3][4][better source needed]c. 1807),[4][better source needed] born Magtymguly, was a Turkmen spiritual leader, philosophical poet, Sufi and traveller who is considered to be the most famous figure in Turkmen literary history.[5][6]

Many Turkmens regard Magtymguly's poems as pinnacle of Turkmen literature; they are often found in the homes of Turkmen-speaking people, who learn his poems by heart and use them as proverbs and sayings. His life and poems have become the subjects of much analysis, commentary and interpretation, and have influenced post-18th century Turkmen writing more than the works of any other author.[7][better source needed]

In a wider context, Magtymguly is often placed alongside major figures of the Turkic literary world such as Hoja Ahmad Yasawi, Yunus Emre, Ali-Shir Nava'i and Fizuli.[8]


Early life and education[edit]

Magtymguly was born in Haji Qushan, a village near the city of Gonbad-e Qabus in the modern-day province of Golestan, Iran, the northern steppes of which are known as Turkmen Sahra (Turkmen steppes). It was part of the extensive Safavid Empire in the first half of the 18th century.[9][better source needed]

Magtymguly's father was Döwletmämmet Azady, himself a prominent poet. His father was also a local teacher and mullah, and was highly regarded by his people.[10][better source needed] Magtymguly's mother's name was probably Orazgül, though this claim is not universally accepted.[11][better source needed] Not much is known about Magtymguly's siblings, nor how many there were at all. Prominent Turkmen historian A.Aşyrow, who conducted substantial research on Magtymguly's biography, names Abdylla and Mämmetsapa as his brothers and Zübeýda as his sister.[12][better source needed]

Atrek River, Golestan, the region where Magtymguly was born and lived most of his life

Magtymguly received his early education in the Turkmen, Persian and Arabic languages from his father Azady.[13][better source needed] He continued his studies in various madrassahs (religious school of higher learning), including Idris Baba madrassah in the village of Gyzyl Aýak, Gögeldaş madrassah in Bukhara and Şirgazy madrassah in Khiva.[14][better source needed][15][better source needed]

Magtymguly provided basic information about himself, his family and children in his poetry. In one of his poems, Magtymguly states: "Tell those who enquire about me that I am a Gerkez, I hail from Etrek and my name is Magtymguly",[16][better source needed] identifying his homeland as the banks of the Etrek River and expressing his identity through his tribe.[17][better source needed]

Later life[edit]

In 1750s, while studying in Bukhara, Magtymguly became friends with a Turkmen from Syria, Nuri Qasim ibn Bahr. He was a highly educated person and bore the spiritual title of Mawlana. Together with Nuri Qasim, Magtymguly travelled through the territories of present-day Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and crossed Afghanistan reaching Northern India.[6][better source needed]

One of the three madrasas (religious school of higher learning) where Magtymguly studied - Kukeldash Madrasa, Bukhara (present-day Uzbekistan)

After finishing his studies and returning home, Magtymguly worked as a silversmith; he also taught local children and was engaged in writing poetry.[18][better source needed] He developed a realistic style of writing about 18th-century Turkmens that became very popular and led to him becoming one of the most cherished Turkmen poets of all time. He was a devout naqshbandi Sufi, who was said to have travelled throughout all of the lands comprising modern Turkmenistan, teaching and praying for the salvation of his people.[19][better source needed] His strong religiosity and deep sense of spirituality are found in poems such as Gaşy ýaý and Söýmüşem seni.[20]

After 1760 and until his death, Magtymguly traveled to the Mangyshlak Peninsula, Astrakhan, Azerbaijan, and the Middle East.[6][better source needed]

Not much is known about Magtymguly's family life. He was unable to marry a woman he loved from his own village, Meňli, whom he dedicated a great deal of his love poems. It may be implied though, through some of his poems and several other sources, that he was married to the wife of his deceased brother, Akgyz, after he was asked to do so by the local council of aksakgals (esteemed elders).[21][better source needed]

The following is the excerpt from Magtymguly's Aýryldym (Separated) poem dedicated to Meňli (in original Turkmen and its English translation):[22][better source needed]

Turkmen commemorative coin depicting Magtymguly

Apparently, after losing the love of his life, Magtymguly started composing under the Pyragy laqab (pseudonym), which is translated as "separated" from Arabic.[23][better source needed]

Magtymguly's brothers Abdylla and Mämmetsapa disappeared, presumably while on a mission on behalf of their people in Iran, and his two children[24][better source needed] died young. Magtymguly was also pained by the death of his father, with whom he had maintained close relations throughout his life.[18][better source needed] Some of Magtymguly's poetry, along with stories collected from Turkmen oral traditions, suggest he was taken prisoner, likely in Mashhad, Iran. It is unknown who took him captive, but such events were common in 18th-century Iran and Turkmenistan. A servant of the ruler, who was also a Turkmen, allegedly aided Magtymguly's escape.[18][better source needed]

Magtymguly died in 1807 in the place known as Giňjaý, situated on the bank of Etrek River,[25][better source needed] while his resting place is in the village of Aq Taqeh-ye Qadim, in Golestan Province, Iran.[26][better source needed]

Sufism and mysticism[edit]

Magtymguly's adherence to Sufism is a matter of popular debate since several, if not all, of his poems that had religious, Sufi or mystic background and motives were not published until lately. Those poems stress certain teachings and practices of the Quran and the sunnah, and describe ethical and spiritual goals. Magtymguly's Yşkyň kitabyn açaly (Let's open the Book of Love) is an excellent example:[27][better source needed]

Note: The first four lines is the original (Turkmen) language of the poem written using Arabic alphabet as in one of the earliest manuscripts, while next are in modern Turkmen alphabet; English translation is provided further down.

عاشق فراق دير عرضين
روزه نماز ديان فرضين
Aşyk Pyrak diýer arzyn,
Roza, namaz diýen parzyn,
Feraghi-in-love will state his will,
Our sacred duty is to pray and fast,
بوينومزده اوش بو قرضين
جان چقمان بريب كچلی
Boýnumyzda uşbu karzyn,
Jan çykman berip geçeli!
We have this debt on our shoulders,
Let's return it before we leave!

Sufism is also present in Magtymguly's Bady-sabany görsem (If I could feel the Eastern breeze) poem, where he wishes to see all the renowned Sufis of the East:

All three people Magtymguly wishes to have seen (known) are considered prominent figures in Sufism, with Bahauddin being the founder of one of the largest Sufi Sunni orders, the Naqshbandi.[28][29][better source needed]

It is also believed that Magtymguly's father, Azady, was also a Sufi.[30][better source needed]

Political ideals[edit]

Magtymguly promoted the idea of keeping the "Turkmen way" sacred and of maintaining the unity and integrity of the Turkmen people. During his lifetime, his efforts had minimal success overcoming the existing tribal loyalties and rivalries.[31][better source needed] His poem Bäşimiz is an exemplary illustration of the call for unity.[32][better source needed]

Banknote of 10 manat of Turkmenistan with the image of Magtymguly (2009)

The Turkmen tribes of the 18th century were torn by internal violence and the aggression of powerful neighbors. Much of Magtymguly's poetry depicts the suffering of the common people caused by the selfishness of those in power.[33][better source needed] Magtymguly criticized rulers and religious figures for their exploitation of the poor and their mockery of justice in such stanzas as:[34][better source needed]

Khans of Gökleň have been spoiled,
They think we do not deserve any comfort.
They took away all our belongings,
We could not do anything but watch them.


Magtymguly was one of the first Turkmen poets to introduce the use of classical Chagatai, the court language of the Khans of Central Asia, as a literary language, incorporating many Turkmen linguistic features.[35] His poetry exemplifies a trend towards increased use of Turkic languages rather than Persian; he is revered as the founder of Turkmen poetry, literature and language.[36][better source needed] His poetry gave start to an era litterateurs depict as the "Golden age" in Turkmen literature.[37][better source needed] Magtymguly is widely considered holy among Turkmen communities and his poems are often quoted as proverbs in Turkmen society.[38][better source needed] Magtymguly's literary genre mostly adhered to realism.[39][better source needed]

Magtymguly Pyragy on Soviet Ruble, 1991

Magtymguly most often promoted patriotism, despised social inequality and hailed love in his poems.[40][better source needed] He made much use of the qoshuk form of poetry,[41][better source needed] which features prominently in Turkmen folk songs and is easily adapted to Turkmen musical forms. The qoshuk form consists of quatrains with lines consisting of eight or eleven syllables, and follows a rhyming scheme of ABCB for the first stanza, and CCCB and DDDB for the following stanzas. The compatibility of Magtymguly's poems with traditional musical forms allowed them to be easily adopted by bakhshis (traditional singers).[42][better source needed]

Magtymguly's first poem "By night when I was asleep ... Revelation" is thought to have been composed following an incident that occurred when Magtymguly was a child. His family were invited to a wedding, but Magtymguly fell asleep, so his parents left him behind. As he slept, he began to foam at the mouth and his parents were called back to the house. When his father awoke him, Magtymguly recited his first poem.[34][better source needed] Another of Magtymguly's poems recounts a dream in which Omar Khayyam bestowed upon him the gift of poetic invention.[43][better source needed]

Magtymguly's poetry is often personal and takes up universal themes. His work includes elegies on the deaths of his father and children, the disappearance of his brothers, incitements to Turkmen unity, tirades against unjust mullahs and khans, praises of religious figures (such as the Twelve Imams), and laments at losing his lover to another man.[44][better source needed]

On one occasion, Magtymguly's village was raided and his possessions, including poetry manuscripts, were carried away on a camel. The camel slipped, spilling the manuscript into the Etrek River. Upon seeing this, Magtymguly composed the following lines: "Flood took my manuscript, thus leaving me behind with tears in my eyes".[34] The poem also contains the lines:

"Making my dear life lost to all that's good,
An evil fate wrought awesome sacrilege,
Hurling the books I'd written to the flood,
To leave me bookless with my grief and rage."[34]

Although Magtymguly apparently recorded much of his poetry, none of the original texts are currently known. The existence of a few manuscripts is chronicled by scholars working under the Russian Empire. Following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, however, Soviet policy regarded texts written in the Arabic script as religious, leading to the destruction of many of his manuscripts. Many Turkmen who possessed manuscripts buried them while fleeing the Soviet Union to Iran.[45][better source needed]


Magtymguly's statue in Kyiv, Ukraine

June 27 is celebrated in Turkmenistan as "the Day of Workers of Culture and Arts and the poetry of Magtymguly Fragi".[46]


Monuments to Magtymguly Pyragy are installed in cities across the former USSR, including Kyiv (Kiev), Astrakhan, Tashkent,[47] and Khiva, as well as in Iran and Turkey. A monument to Magtymguly made of concrete and natural stone was erected in Magtymguly Square on Magtymguly Avenue in the center of Ashgabat in 1971.[48]


  • Magtymguly is a city in far south-western Turkmenistan in Balkan Province, the administrative center of Magtymguly District.[49]
  • Magtymguly is a zone in a gas and oil field in Turkmenistan.[50]

Institutions and organizations[edit]

The following are named after Magtymguly:


  • Makhtumkuli (1968, producer Alti Karliyev) — the role was played by Hommat Mulluk.[56]
  • Fragi - Razluchyonnyy so schastyem (1984, producer Khodzhakuli Narliev) — the role was played by Annaseid Annamuhammedov.[57]


1959 postage stamp of the USSR

In 1959, the USSR issued a postage stamp to mark the 225th anniversary of the birth of Magtymguly.[58] In 1983, the USSR issued another stamp to mark the 250th anniversary of his birth.[59] Turkmenistan issued a 10 manat banknote bearing his likeness in 2009.


  • In 1974, an orchestral composition by Veli Mukhatov was created "In memory of Magtymguly".[60]
  • In 1992, the Magtymguly International Prize in the field of Turkmen language and literature was established.[61]
  • In 2013, the composer Mamed Huseynov wrote an opera called "Monologues of Magtymguly Pyragy".[62]
  • From 2002 to 2008, the month of May in Turkmenistan bore the name "Magtymguly".[63]
  • In 2014, the Magtymguly Pyragy Medal was established as a reward for great achievements in the study, dissemination and promotion of the creative heritage of Magtymguly.[64]
  • A Turkmen dry cargo ship is named "Magtymguly".[65]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gudar, Nurcan Oznal (2016). Mahtumkulu Guldeste. Istanbul: Salon Yayinlari. p. 13. ISBN 978-605-9831-48-2.
  2. ^ "Baku marks 290th anniversary birthday of Magtymguly Pyragy". AzerNews. 17 May 2014. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  3. ^ "Participation of the delegation of Turkmenistan in the arrangements in honor of the 290th anniversary of Magtymguly Pyragy". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan. Archived from the original on 17 May 2014. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Magtymguly Fragi's biography". Medeniýet. Ministry of Culture of Turkmenistan. Archived from the original on 17 May 2014. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  5. ^ Levin, Theodore; Daukeyeva, Saida; Kochumkulova, Elmira (2016). Music of Central Asia. Indiana University press. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-253-01751-2.
  6. ^ a b c Tursunov, J.S (2011). Pedagogics (in Turkmen). Ashgabat: State Publishing house of Turkmenistan. pp. 158–160.
  7. ^ Ashyrov 2014, pp. 9–12.
  8. ^ Gudar, Nurcan Oznal (2016). Mahtumkulu Guldeste. Istanbul: Salon Yayinlari. p. 11. ISBN 978-605-9831-48-2.
  9. ^ Imamkuliyeva, Irina. "Balkan velayat - a picturesque, fertile land with ancient history and distinctive traditions (AIMAG 2017)". Turkmenistan.
  10. ^ Begmekow, I (2010). Türkmen Edebiýaty (Turkmen Literature) (in Turkmen). Ashgabat, Turkmenistan: State Printing Service of Turkmenistan. pp. 92–93.
  11. ^ Magtymguly, Selected Poems. Vol. 1 (in Turkmen). Ashgabat. 1983. p. 26.
  12. ^ Ashyrov 2014, pp. 242–265.
  13. ^ Ashyrov, Annagurban (2014). Analysis of Magtymguly's Manuscripts (in Turkmen). Ashgabat: Turkmen State Printing Service. p. 27.
  14. ^ Azemoun, Youssef, trans. "An Interview with Gara Ishan". Journal of Makhtumkuli Studies 2(2000)
  15. ^ "Magtymguly Pyragy". Gollanma, Information center.
  16. ^ Azemoun, Youssef. "The Significant History of Makhtumkuli and his Manuscripts." Journal of Makhtumkuli Studies 2 (2000).
  17. ^ Ashyrov 2005, p. 188.
  18. ^ a b c Azemoun, Youssef. “The Significant History”
  19. ^ "Magtymguly Pyragy". 8 July 2005.
  20. ^ Gudar, Nurcan Oznal (2016). Mahtumkulu Guldeste. Istanbul: Salon Yayinlari. pp. 17–18. ISBN 978-605-9831-48-2.
  21. ^ Ashyrov 2014, p. 332.
  22. ^ "Aýryldym". Türkmen kultur ojagynyň internet sahypasy (Website of the Turkmen Culture).
  23. ^ Ashyrov 2014, p. 33.
  24. ^ "Magtymguly Pyragy". Gollanma, Information center.
  25. ^ Magtymguly, Selected Poems (in Turkmen). Ashgabat. 1941. p. 14.
  26. ^ Magtymguly, Source of Inspiration (in Turkmen). Ashgabat: Turkmen State Printing Service. 2014. p. 132.
  27. ^ Ashyrov 2014, p. 35.
  28. ^ Mullerson, Rein (2014). Central Asia. Taylor and Francis. ISBN 9781317792529.
  29. ^ Meredov, Ashirpour (1997). Magtymgulynyň Düşündirişli Sözlügi (in Turkmen). Gonbad-e Qabous. pp. 142–217. ISBN 964-7836-29-5.
  30. ^ Ashyrov 2014, p. 282.
  31. ^ [1]
  32. ^ "Doctrine of Makhtumkuli about Statehood, Society and Morals". Science and Technology in Turkmenistan (in Turkmen). Ashgabat: Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan. 2: 11. 2018.
  33. ^ "Turkmenistan in the 16th and 17th centuries". New Ashgabat. New City, Old Traditions: 4.
  34. ^ a b c d Azemoun, Youssef. “Gara Ishan.”
  35. ^ Clark, Larry, Michael Thurman, and David Tyson. "Turkmenistan." Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan: Country Studies. Comp. Glenn E. Curtis. Washington, D.C.: Division, 1997. 318.
  36. ^ Abazov, Rafis. Culture and Customs of the Central Asian Republics (Westport, Connecticut 2007) 89.
  37. ^ Geldiyew, G (2016). Edebiýat (Literature). Ashgabat: Ministry of Education of Turkmenistan.
  38. ^ Bakulin, F. “The Turkmen's Songs and Their Poet, Makhtumkuli.” Journal of Makhtumkuli Studies 1(1997).
  39. ^ Magtymguly, Source of Inspiration (in Turkmen). Ashgabat: Turkmen State Printing Service. 2014. p. 14.
  40. ^ Ashyrov 2014, p. 198.
  41. ^ Ashyrov 2014, p. 69.
  42. ^ Azemoun, Youssef. “Pages From the Life of Makhtumkuli.” Journal of Makhtumkuli Studies 1(1997).
  43. ^ Bakulin, F. "Makhtumkuli."
  44. ^ Azemoun, Youssef. "The Significant History."
  45. ^ Azemoun, Youssef, "The Significant History."
  46. ^ "Culture is the spiritual light of the people (in Turkmen)". Zaman Turkmenistan. "The proclamation of June 27 of each year as "the Day of the Workers of Culture and Arts and the poetry of Magtymguly Fragi" makes the workers of culture and art even more proud.
  47. ^ На ул. Махтумкули в Ташкенте открыт барельеф поэта
  48. ^ Big Soviet Encyclopedia (TU). Moscow. 1978. p. 28.
  49. ^ "Turkmenistan Presidential Decree No. 4066 of 4 June 2004" (PDF) (in Turkmen). 4 June 2004.
  50. ^ "На месторождении Махтумкули туркменского сектора Каспия получен новый приток нефти" (in Russian). 25 January 2015.
  51. ^ "Turkmen State University named after Magtymguly (TSU)". University Directory Worldwide.
  52. ^ "Magtymguly National Institute of Language, Literature and Manuscripts". Science of Turkmenistan.
  53. ^ [2] Magtymguly Musical and Drama Theater opens in Ashgabat.
  55. ^ "Library named after Makhtumkuli in Kyiv hosts creative anniversary evening of the poet". 26 May 2019.
  56. ^ "Alty Karliev (in Russian)". Kino-teatr.
  57. ^ "Fragi - Separated by happiness (in Russian)". Kino-teatr.
  58. ^ Half a century of Soviet Turkmenistan (in Russian); Philatelist's calendar for 1974. М: Svyaz; October 21-27, 1973.
  59. ^ "Postage stamp dedicated to Makhtumkuli (250 years)". Postage stamps of Russia, USSR and the World (in Russian).
  60. ^ "Music born with poetry". Turkmenistan (in Russian).
  61. ^ "В Туркмении планируют поднять авторитет международной премии им. Махтумкули" (in Russian). 3 February 2008.
  62. ^ "Zum 290. Jahrestag von Mahtumkuli Fragi (in German)". Turkmenistan-Kultur.
  63. ^ "Turkmen Go Back to Old Calendar". BBC News. 24 April 2008. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  64. ^ [3]
  65. ^ "The tender is for another docking and major repair of the Magtymguly dry-cargo ship of the Department of Trade Fleet of Turkmenistan". 27 September 2013.

External links[edit]