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
مخدومقلی فراغی
c. 1724 (1724)
Hajji Qushan, Khorasan, Safavid Iran
Diedc. 1782 (1783)
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
ParentsDöwletmämmet Azady (father)

Magtymguly Pyragy (Persian: مخدومقلی فراغی Makhdumqoli[a] Farāghi; Turkmen: Magtymguly Pyragy; Turkmen pronunciation: [mɑɣtɯmɢʊlɯ pɯɾɑːɣɯ]; Turkish: Mahtumkulu Firaki;[2] c. 1724 – 1782),[3] 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.[4]

Magtymguly is the greatest representative of Turkmen literature, credited with the creation of Turkmen written literature, and whose literary form became a powerful symbol of the historical and the incipient national consciousness of the Turkmen people.[5] He is part of a unique period in the cultural history of Central Asia, with his exceptional talent projecting his personal poetic synthesis onto the next generation of poets of the region.[6]

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.[7]


Early life and education[edit]

Magtymguly was born in Haji Qushan,[8] 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).[9] It was part of the extensive Safavid Empire in the first half of the 18th century.[10]

Magtymguly's name means "slave of Magtym", where Magtym is one of the sacred lineages among the Turkmen people. However, the poet, along with his name, also used a distinct nom de plume or makhlas in his poems, which was "Feraghi". It comes from Arabic and means "the one separated from" happiness, or union with his beloved.[11]

Magtymguly's father was Döwletmämmet Azady, himself an educated poet.[12] His father was also a local teacher and mullah, and was highly regarded by his people.[13]

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.[14] He also learned ancestral trades such as felt-making and, according to some sources, jewellery.[15]

Magtymguly 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.[16][15]

Magtymguly provided basic information about himself, his family and children in his poetry. In his poem "Äleme belgilidir" (Known in the world), Magtymguly says: "Tell those who enquire about me that I am a Gerkez, I hail from Etrek and my name is Magtymguly", identifying his homeland as the banks of the Etrek River and expressing his identity through his tribe.[17]

Later life[edit]

Magtymguly traveled extensively during his lifetime, mostly to widen his erudition, with the territories of present-day Azerbaijan, India, Iran and Uzbekistan among the countries known to have been visited by him.[18]

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.[18]

The following is the excerpt from Magtymguly's Aýryldym (Separated) poem dedicated to Meňli (in original Turkmen and its English translation):[19]

Magtymguly died in 1782.[7] His resting place is in the village of Aq Taqeh-ye Qadim, in Golestan Province, Iran. Nowadays, his tomb is the site of pilgrimages at which prayers and Sufi "dhikrs" are performed by members of different ethnic groups.[20][18]

Sufism and mysticism[edit]

A number of Magtymguly's poems display Sufistic philosophical attitudes that stress certain teachings and practices of the Quran and the sunnah, describing ethical and spiritual goals.[21]

Regarded as an initiation rite often seen in Sufism, it is believed that Magtymguly received his poetic talent from the prophet Muhammad in one of his dreams.[22]

A number of Magtymguly's ghazals, however, when taken out of context, seem to make antinomian statements with regard to religion. Despite this, Magtymguly should not be compared to an Uzbek poet Mashrab, who was an antinomian heterodox Sufi and hanged in 1712, nor should he be compared to an Iraqi Turkmen poet Nesimi, who adopted self-deification stance. Antinomian heterodoxy appears not to be the major trend in Magtymguly's poetry. His conventional stand, in fact, is the Sufi station of khajrat (bewilderment).[23]

The following is an excerpt from Magtymguly's "Ýar senden" poem is an exemplary work containing all of the familiar Sufi elements:[24]

One of the three madrasas (religious school of higher learning) where Magtymguly studied – Kukeldash Madrasa, Bukhara (present-day Uzbekistan)
Magtymguly Pyragy on Soviet Ruble, 1991

The following verse is a call to follow the "sunnah", where Magtymguly also uses the laqab of Aşyk Pyrak (Feraghi-in-love). 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,
بوينومزدا 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!

In the poem below, called "Bady-sabany görsem" (I'd Like to Feel the Wind of Dawn), 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.[25][26][27]

Political ideals[edit]

Magtymguly lived at a time when Turkmen tribes were displaced from their homeland, and plundered as a result of constant clashes with Iran and Khiva. He deeply resented it and expressed his feelings of repentance in his poems.[15] Indeed, Magtymguly express strong social protest in his poems, but his political thought is mostly directed towards the unification of the Turkmen tribes and the establishment of an independent polity for Turkmens.[28]


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

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.[29] 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.[30] Magtymguly's poetry also gave start to an era litterateurs depict as the "Golden age" in Turkmen literature.[31] His literary form became a powerful symbol of the historical and the incipient national consciousness of the Turkmen people.[32]

Unlike his father and another prominent Turkmen poet of the era, Andalib, Magtymguly employed strophic form, usually quatrains (qoshuk) for his poems making them syllabic. Vast majority of his poems are in the form of folk Turkmen songs, qoshuk and aydish, with the latter being a form of musical contest usually involving two poets.[11]

The following is Magtymguly's work[28] - Türkmeniň (of the Turkmen), with the text transliterated into Turkmen (Latin) letters.


Jeýhun bilen bahry-Hazar arasy,
Çöl üstünden öwser ýeli türkmeniň;
Gül-gunçasy – gara gözüm garasy,
Gara dagdan iner sili türkmeniň.

Hak sylamyş bardyr onuň saýasy,
Çyrpynşar çölünde neri, maýasy,
Reňbe-reň gül açar ýaşyl ýaýlasy,
Gark bolmuş reýhana çöli türkmeniň.

Al-ýaşyl bürenip çykar perisi,
Kükeýip bark urar anbaryň ysy,
Beg, töre, aksakal ýurduň eýesi,
Küren tutar gözel ili türkmeniň.

Ol merdiň ogludyr, mertdir pederi,
Görogly gardaşy, serhoşdyr seri,
Dagda, düzde kowsa, saýýatlar, diri
Ala bilmez, ýolbars ogly türkmeniň.

Köňüller, ýürekler bir bolup başlar,
Tartsa ýygyn, erär topraklar-daşlar,
Bir suprada taýýar kylynsa aşlar,
Göteriler ol ykbaly türkmeniň.

Köňül howalanar ata çykanda,
Daglar lagla döner gyýa bakanda,
Bal getirer, joşup derýa akanda,
Bent tutdurmaz, gelse sili türkmeniň.

Gapyl galmaz, döwüş güni har olmaz,
Gargyşa, nazara giriftar olmaz,
Bilbilden aýrylyp, solup, saralmaz,
Daýym anbar saçar güli türkmeniň.

Tireler gardaşdyr, urug ýarydyr,
Ykballar ters gelmez hakyň nurudyr,
Mertler ata çyksa, söweş sarydyr,
Ýow üstüne ýörär ýoly türkmeniň.

Serhoş bolup çykar, jiger daglanmaz,
Daşlary syndyrar, ýoly baglanmaz,
Gözüm gaýra düşmez köňül eglenmez,
Magtymguly – sözlär tili türkmeniň.


Magtymguly's statue in Kyiv, Ukraine

Magtymguly is part of a unique period in the cultural history of Central Asia; his exceptional talent projected his personal poetic synthesis onto the next generation of poets of the region.[6]

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.[7]

27 June is celebrated in Turkmenistan as "the Day of Workers of Culture and Arts and the poetry of Magtymguly Fragi".[34]


Monuments to Magtymguly Pyragy are installed in cities across the former USSR, including Kyiv (Kiev), Astrakhan, Tashkent,[35] 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.[36] He is also one of several statues that surround the Independence Monument in Ashgabat. The statues depict people praised in the Ruhnama, a spiritual guide written by Turkmenistan president Saparmurat Niyazov.[37]


  • Magtymguly is a city in far south-western Turkmenistan in Balkan Province, the administrative center of Magtymguly District.[38]
  • Magtymguly is a zone in a gas and oil field in Turkmenistan.[39]

Institutions and organizations[edit]

Turkmen commemorative coin depicting Magtymguly

The following are named after Magtymguly:


  • Makhtumkuli (1968, producer Alti Karliyev) — the role was played by Hommat Mulluk.[45]
  • Fragi – Razluchyonnyy so schastyem (1984, producer Khodzhakuli Narliev) — the role was played by Annaseid Annamuhammedov.[46]


1959 postage stamp of the USSR

In 1959, the USSR issued a postage stamp to mark the 225th anniversary of the birth of Magtymguly.[47] In 1983, the USSR issued another stamp to mark the 250th anniversary of his birth.[48] 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".[49]
  • In 1992, the Magtymguly International Prize in the field of Turkmen language and literature was established.[50]
  • In 2013, the composer Mamed Huseynov wrote an opera called "Monologues of Magtymguly Pyragy".[51]
  • From 2002 to 2008, the month of May in Turkmenistan bore the name "Magtymguly".[52]
  • 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.[53]
  • A Turkmen dry cargo ship is named "Magtymguly".[54]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Also romanized as Makhdūm Qulī.[1]


  1. ^ The Cambridge History of Islam. Vol. 2. p. 478.
  2. ^ Gudar, Nurcan Oznal (2016). Mahtumkulu Guldeste. Istanbul: Salon Yayinlari. p. 13. ISBN 978-605-9831-48-2.
  3. ^ Clark, Larry (1998). Turcologica 34, Turkmen Reference Grammar. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag. p. 16. ISBN 3-447-04019-X.
  4. ^ Levin, Theodore; Daukeyeva, Saida; Kochumkulova, Elmira (2016). Music of Central Asia. Indiana University press. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-253-01751-2.
  5. ^ Gross, Jo-Ann (1992). Muslims in Central Asia: Expressions of Identity and Change. Duke University Press. p. 167.
  6. ^ a b Gross 1992, p. 187.
  7. ^ a b c Gudar 2016, p. 11.
  8. ^ Bozkurt, Fuat (2012). The Language of the Turks (in Turkish). Eğitim Yayınevi. p. 321.
  9. ^ "Dašt-e Gorgān". Encyclopaedia Iranica. Another traditional name for this region is Torkaman Ṣaḥrā, characterizing at the same time the specific and dominant composition of its population.
  10. ^ Hillenbrand R., Islamic Art and Architecture, London (1999), ISBN 0-500-20305-9, pp. 226-228
  11. ^ a b Gross 1992, p. 175.
  12. ^ Gross 1992, pp. 169–170.
  13. ^ Ekber, Kadir (1999). "Mahtumkulu". Turkic World Studies (in Turkish). Wisconsin University: Aegean University. 3 (2): 278.
  14. ^ Gudar 2016, pp. 12–13.
  15. ^ a b c Kahraman, Alim. "Mahtumkulu". Encyclopedia of Islam (in Turkish).
  16. ^ Kazimoglu, Samir (1994). Literature of Turkic People (in Turkish). Ecdad Publications. p. 99.
  17. ^ Gudar 2016, p. 12.
  18. ^ a b c Gudar 2016, p. 13.
  19. ^ Gudar 2016, p. 19.
  20. ^ Gross 1992, p. 169.
  21. ^ Gross 1992, pp. 175–179.
  22. ^ Bashgoz, Ilhan (1998). Turkish Folklore and Oral Literature. Indiana University. p. 19.
  23. ^ Gross 2012, pp. 179–180.
  24. ^ Gross 2012, pp. 185–186.
  25. ^ Algar, H. (1988a). "Bahāʾ-al-Dīn Naqšband". Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, Vol. III, Fasc. 4. New York. pp. 433–435.
  26. ^ Islam, Riazul (2002). Sufism in South Asia: Impact on Fourteenth Century Muslim Society. Oxford University Press. p. 191.
  27. ^ Allen, J. Frank (2012). Bukhara and the Muslims of Russia: Sufism, Education, and the Paradox of Islamic Prestige. BRILL. p. 42.
  28. ^ a b Gross 1992, p. 180.
  29. ^ 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.
  30. ^ Abazov, Rafis. Culture and Customs of the Central Asian Republics. Westport, Connecticut. 2007 p. 89
  31. ^ Hasan Dani, Ahmad; Masson, Vadim (2003). History of Civilizations of Central Asia: Development in contrast : from the sixteenth to the mid-nineteenth century. UNESCO. p. 139.
  32. ^ Gross 1992, p. 167.
  33. ^ Gross 1992, pp. 180–182.
  34. ^ "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.
  35. ^ На ул. Махтумкули в Ташкенте открыт барельеф поэта
  36. ^ Big Soviet Encyclopedia (TU). Moscow. 1978. p. 28.
  37. ^ Brummell, Paul (2005). Turkmenistan. Bradt Travel Guides. pp. 98–100. ISBN 978-1-84162-144-9.
  38. ^ "Turkmenistan Presidential Decree No. 4066 of 4 June 2004" (PDF) (in Turkmen). 4 June 2004.
  39. ^ "На месторождении Махтумкули туркменского сектора Каспия получен новый приток нефти" (in Russian). 25 January 2015.
  40. ^ "Turkmen State University named after Magtymguly (TSU)". University Directory Worldwide.
  41. ^ "Magtymguly National Institute of Language, Literature and Manuscripts". Science of Turkmenistan.
  42. ^ Magtymguly Musical and Drama Theater opens in Ashgabat.
  44. ^ "Library named after Makhtumkuli in Kyiv hosts creative anniversary evening of the poet". 26 May 2019.
  45. ^ "Alty Karliev (in Russian)". Kino-teatr.
  46. ^ "Fragi – Separated by happiness (in Russian)". Kino-teatr.
  47. ^ Half a century of Soviet Turkmenistan (in Russian); Philatelist's calendar for 1974. М: Svyaz; 21–27 October 1973.
  48. ^ "Postage stamp dedicated to Makhtumkuli (250 years)". Postage stamps of Russia, USSR and the World (in Russian).
  49. ^ "Music born with poetry". Turkmenistan (in Russian).
  50. ^ "В Туркмении планируют поднять авторитет международной премии им. Махтумкули" (in Russian). 3 February 2008.
  51. ^ "Zum 290. Jahrestag von Mahtumkuli Fragi (in German)". Turkmenistan-Kultur.
  52. ^ "Turkmen Go Back to Old Calendar". BBC News. 24 April 2008. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  53. ^ "Turkmenistan Altyn Asyr".
  54. ^ "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.

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