Jablonski, Marek (Michael)

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Jabayev, Jambyl

(b Semirechye, Zhetysay, 28 Feb 1846; d Alma-Ata, 22 June 1945). Kazakh poet-singer. He was an apprentice of the poet-singer (aqyn) Suyumbai. Between 1870 and 1912 he was undefeated in contests (aitys), and in 1919 he was the winner at the first meeting of Zhetysu poets. He was an expert on and performer of the epic songs (dastan) 1001 noch’ (‘1001 Nights’), Shakhname, Leyila i Medjnun, Kyz-Zhibek and Edige, and the author of the epics Utegen-batyr (The Epic Hero Utegen') and Suranshi-batyr (‘The Epic Hero Suranshi’). In 1934 he took the grand prize at the first Republican meeting of Kazakh art masters. He took part in festivals of Kazakh arts in Moscow four times following the first ten-day festival of Kazakh literature and art in Moscow in May 1936. His many awards included the Order of the Red Banner of Labour (1936), the Order of Lenin (1938), the Badge of Honour (1939) and State Prize Laureate (1941). In 1941 he composed his famous poem Leningrad tïk örenim (‘People of Leningrad, my Children!’).

Jabayev lived during the period of the suppression of Kazakh nomadic culture under Soviet rule and the transition from oral traditional music to culture based on the written language, and he became a symbol of this turning-point in Kazakh history. After his death, his life and works were commemorated in many ways. In 1946 the Museum and Mausoleum of Jambyl was opened, and in December 1949 the prizes of Abai and Jambyl for literature and art were established. A province, a town and many districts, schools and farms were named after him, and his songs were translated into all the languages of the former Soviet Union as well as other languages.

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