“I will see him then,” she said,
She put on a hat made of mink fur,
Which gave her an elegant look.
By submitting themselves,
The forty servant maidens try to please one girl.
Zulayka set out glamorously,
Her beautiful face was shining.
The news was spread around the city:
“A hunter from Kïtay came," they said,
"The only apple of Karïp’s eye.”
Zulayka got ready and set out
To have a look at the man.
The restless Shabïr, the slave,
The mediator between the two,
Couldn’t just stay behind.
The forty maidens followed her
Laughing, speaking pleasant words,
“Karïp’s son has arrived,” they said,
People heard the news about him.
Leading the forty maidens,
In order to see the hunter
Zulayka and the girls came giggling.
Her forty maidens behind her
Walked with such a dignity,
Each of their six black braids
Falling on their white backs.
Forty maidens of the same age
All gathered not one was left.
Shabïr, the slave is restless
Trying to convince Zulayka
To marry the hunter who came.
Like a beautiful spring flower,
Like a sacred night of a false world,
The hunter was sitting in the yurt,
Without any thoughts in his mind.
Zulayka, the beautiful, came in then
The hunter from the Kïtay [tribe],
Saw the maiden Zulayka then . . .
She saw him, but her heart disliked,
Kojojash didn’t suit her heart.
She noticed the hunter’s clothes,
Which made her dissatisfied.
Then Zulayka spoke these words
Asking Shabïr to come to her:
“My slave, you have no patience,
You were restless about the hunter’s arrival,
Is your hunter my equal partner?
As if my groom has arrived,
You made such a fuss in the city
Hurry, see the hunter, you said,
Why trouble your soul that much?
Is Zulayka’s marriage to a man
That important for you?
Not knowing your own strength,
You got worried for the hunter’s sake.
From now on you should know, my slave,
Your own strength and capability.
His clan is Kïtay, now I know,
He is the only child of his father, now I know.
His homeland where he inhabits
Is high and slippery cliffs, now I know.
My 'spouse' lacks wisdom, indeed,
For he doesn’t take care of his father.
The hunter’s life sharp as copper
Is too short for me to live with him.
Although Kojojash is the only son,
He seems to be a nice man.
But to like and marry him,
He doesn’t have a long life.
Just because he came from afar
I won’t pity and marry him.
I won’t spend a short life with him,
Turning my white head to black,[1]
Leaving marks on my moonlike face,
He has no siblings from one father,
I don’t want to suffer his pain.”
"He is the only child of his father," they said
She heard from various sources.
How does Zulayka know the [truth]?
Kojojash wasn’t in his village
"He might come if he hears," she thought,
By resisting Shabïr’s words
Zulayka held herself firm.
She stood hiding her true feelings,
While she was standing like that
Shabïr spoke these words to her:
“Are you a mole on a white/gray çangïl[2] sheep?
I regret that I don’t have wealth,
But I am as intelligent as you.
This hunter came especially
From a distant Kïtay land,
How can you judge him Zulayka?
To say that his life is too short,
You aren’t the God who created
This hunter who has arrived.
Are you the mole on the gray sheep?
This only child was cherished [by his parents]
Don’t make his life more miserable,
You aren’t God, Zulayka, who created him.
I’m Shabïr slave by name only, but
My intellect isn’t less than yours.
How do you know, Zulayka
That the hunter’s life is short?
Don’t start speaking wicked words,
About this only child.
If you are, indeed, a prophet,
Tell me on what day I’ll die?
You are a spoiled woman
Who dislikes many people.
If you find fault in Shabïr,
You can punish her yourself.
Don’t humiliate someone’s only child
By saying that his life is short.
Tell honestly and answer me
If you are a great prophet, Zulayka
On which day you’ll die yourself?
How do you know that he’ll die,
When he [especially] came to see you?
You hurt his feelings very much,
What do you mean, Zulayka?
You don’t respect me for I’m a slave,
You don’t know who your husband is.
If my words prove to be true,
You won’t marry, Zulayka,
Other man other than this hunter.
'You became a mediator, Shabïr,' you said
'You speak whatever comes to your mind.'
Is Kojojash that bad, indeed?
Why can’t you fall in love with him?
You drag him like a cadaver,
The hunter of great dignity.
Although you’re a female,
You’re still the bek[3] of the forty maidens.
If what I said isn’t a lie
I dreamt of such a dream.
Marry the hunter, your partner
You’re a daughter-in-law to Karïpbay.
If you don’t believe in my words,
You’ll know from the 'book of fate.'[4]
'I will see, then marry,' you said
And you gathered many people.
The dream that I dreamt is such,
If my words don’t match the truth
You can have my head cut off,
This destitute one serving you.
Don’t spend your life for nothing,
Don’t lose the hunter, your partner,
Who will live and who will die,
Only God gives life to us.”
Zulayka was then surprised
At the words of Shabïr, the slave,
As if she had predicted this,
She told everything to her face.
For the hunter’s sake she fought,
This cursed Shabïr, the evil one.
"She really attached herself," she thought
"To the guy from the Kïtay [tribe]."
They went and saw the hunter
Then all the women got dispersed.
After coming home, Zulayka
Opened her book and checked.
It said she’ll marry the hunter
Even without Shabïr slave’s words,
She was going to marry
This very man like Kojojash.
“I decided to marry him,” she said
Including her own father,
She sent the news to the city.
Her father also sent the news
To the people who came before,
"Zulayka’ll marry," he said
"The hunter, son of Karïp."
Zulayka sent the word around:
“My dear father should get ready,
To give me to Kojojash," she said.
"He’s the chosen groom," they said,
And they brought Kojojash
To the newly erected yurt.
Zulayka liked Kojojash at her first look, but she was embarrassed by Shabïr’s becoming a go-between. That is why she pretended that she wouldn’t marry Kojojash. Desperate Zulayka acted cleverly and pretended to check her “Book of Fate” and announced that she decided to marry Kojojash.
“Good fortune fell upon
The beautiful girl Zulayka,” they said
“She liked the hunter Kojojash,” they said.
“She found her partner
To spend her life together,” they said.
If Zulayka hadn’t informed,
Her father wouldn’t know.
The maiden, Zulayka spoke thus:
“Bring him here,” she said,
And sent her forty companions.
In order to bring the groom,
The girls set off with poise.
When she first saw the hunter,
Zulayka fell in love with him.
To bring the groom to her place,
Among the forty young women,
All the noble ones were chosen.
Single and married women mixed:
“Let’s bring the groom,” they said
And they came before the groom.
The hunter had no nice clothes to show,
His çarïks were wrapped on his feet,
His beldik was tied around his waist,
His leather belt and bag contained
Everything: powder and bullets.
“How did Zulayka like him?” they wondered,
For, he looked shabby to them.
“Without being embarrassed
How can we take him like this?
Clothe him from head to toe,” they said
Two women and two girls,
Came back to Zulayka,
“People will ridicule,” they said,
Zulayka then said these words:
“More than blue leather boots,
I value the çarïk on his feet.
I won’t degrade the kökjal[5]
Before the people outside.
If I wanted a nicely dressed man,
There were many with nice clothes,
Don’t be surprised to see his shoes,
I discerned the hunter’s strength.
One doesn’t turn bad and good
By putting on fine clothes,
Bring him here,” she said.
“The çarïks on his feet are
Better than leather boots,” she said.
“I won’t exchange, sister-in-laws,
The only head of the hunter
For a city with six gates,”[6] she said.
“Finally, I’ll join my heart
With the brave man of mankind,” she said.
“I liked him and I’ll live with him
In my favorite place,” she said.
“May my father gather his people,
Offer them a great feast,
Hosting them in his city.
I have chosen his son,
May he [my father] send an envoy,
To my father-in-law’s people,” she said.
“She married a man with çarïk,” they said,
“She liked a man with no coat,” they said,
Gossiping about Zulayka,
There were boastful men.
Everybody despised him,
Married women, single girls,
“Zulay married the poor one,” they said,
The enemies talked behind her back.
May he be poor or be rich,
He pleased the heart of this girl,
One marries the one written on one’s forehead.
The forty girl companions
Brought him to Zulayka’s place.
May the others not like him,
But Zulayka liked the hunter.
Snobbish manaps [7]and mïrzas[8] said:
“She chose a poor man to marry”
The rumor spread among people.
To introduce the groom to people,
They brought him out from the yurt,
Helped him up onto horseback by the elbow.
Women accompanying him said:
“How could he please her heart?”
They laughed standing in pairs.
Zulayka’s husband,
Except his çarïks on his feet,
He isn’t less than anyone.
“My daughter married the one she liked,” he said,
Her father was happy and content.
Knowing that he was a kind man,
“He is a charming groom,” he said,
Glowing more than ever now,
She set out to meet her man,
The very girl named Zulayka.
By approaching him gently,
“My one and only love,” she said,
And her heart became joyful.
This news of her own choice,
She announced to her people.
Approaching him, Zulayka,
Welcomed him with great respect
They invited him to come in
Into her own yurt where she stayed,
Those who saw him were amazed
By the clothes of Kojojash,
They dressed him in various clothes,
And that surprised many people.
With happiness he invited
His kuda[9] Karïp,
And his kudagïy[10] Biykech. He hosted the one-week long wedding,
People came from various places,
His father Karïp was pleased:
“My only child raised with love,
Oh, dear Kojo," he said,
"Was destined being your daughter’s partner.”
Their heart filled with happiness and joy,
Karakojo and Karïpbay
Shared the joy of their children.
By offering the feast and hosting guests,
Zulayka with a moon-like face,
Very much fell in love with
The master hunter, the only child.
Extending the feast for a week,
She made the feast’s entertainment great,
For the strong and powerful men
She organized the ulak[11] in town.
For the shooters to shoot it down,
She tied the thread on [a small bag]
She made the wedding splendid,
She found and liked the noble [man]
Despite being a woman,
Zulayka showed the greatness of her mind.
He showed his daughter’s dowry
By putting up a decorated yurt
And throwing her clothes over a rope.[12]
They tied a jambï[13] on a thread,
People shot at it every day
“Whoever hits will get,” they said,
Lured by its gold coins,
They shot nonstop day and night.
Many hunters from her people,
Not being able to hit the jambï,
The gathered people became bored.
"The hunter who hits it," they said,
"Will get gold as big as a horse head,
For he is blessed by God," they said.
Each man carrying a gun,
All wished to shoot it down.
Without sleeping day and night,
They were restless and excited.
They couldn’t shoot it and gave up,
The small bag of gold coins,
To receive the jambï of gold,
The living men struggled much.
The fact the groom was a hunter,
Became known to the people.
Baldïz[14] and sister-in-laws,
All of them came and gathered.
“The jambï, which was big as a horse’s head,
People got tired for they couldn’t shoot it down," they said.
"The feast, which was to last a few days,
Is lasting for a week,” they said,
At last, Kojo announced thus:
“Is there any brave man," he said,
To shoot the kïyïk down?
If there is no one among the people,
We heard that he is hunter,
May his baldiz and sister-in-laws
Bring him and ask him to shoot.
The friend of my only daughter,
I see him equal with Zulayka,
The hunter Kojojash,” he said.
Twelve women, ten girls,
All together twenty-two,
Discussed and went to bring him.
They were sitting together,
Kojojash and Zulayka,
"These are your father-in-law’s words," they said,
And they began speaking justly:
"They say our brother-in-law is a hunter,
May the groom shoot it down for us," they said,
"Other men got tired unable to shoot it down,
It’s not shameful for one who knows how.”
Then Zulayka spoke these words:
“You are known as a hunter,” she said,
"Your skill is greater than others,
Among the brave men like yourself," she said,
"The one who liked you and sensed your skill,
Is me, my chosen love," she said,
"There’re those who had witnessed and who hadn’t,
If you shoot the kïyïk down,
People will be content," she said,
"Many are walking around,
Thinking that they are your equals.
Don’t conceal your skills,
May the people see," she said.
"If you shoot the kïyïk down,
The girl’s father, your father-in-law,
Will trust in your skill," she said.
"People call many a hunter,
Those who compete in their skills
You should win over them," she said.
"You’re my happiness," she said,
"Written on my forehead."
How can the hunter hesitate,
For he’s used to shooting a lot:
“May he gather all his people,
Your father, Kojo should order,
I’ll shoot at it from this place,
All the people at the feast,
Should gather and watch me.
If all these people who are here,
Couldn’t shoot it down
Perhaps the gold is meant
For the God himself to keep.”
Someone came to Kojo and said:
“Your son-in-law agreed to shoot”
He ran off informing him of it.
"How can he shoot," they wondered,
"The kïyïk which others couldn’t shoot,"
The huge and discordant crowd
Gathered and watched eagerly.
Karakojo and Karïpbay,
Prayed to God holding their collars.
“May he shoot the kïyïk down,” they said.
"And prove his real hunting skill.”
In Kïzïl-Kïya and Kara-Tash,
Among the Kïtay tribe,
Kojojash is a great hunter.
He had Ak barang with six carvings
He didn’t stay a day in the camp,
The gun like Ak barang
Mankind could never find.
He had its black back etched
And had coated with red gold,
Although a gun with a flint,
It fired faster than the bardenke,[15]
Its barrel was never free of smoke.
When they heard the groom was a hunter,
Who didn’t draw his gun back once he aimed it,
All the people were surprised,
“The groom will shoot the kïyik,” they said,
The crowd stood encircling him
And watched with curiosity.
Kojojash got ready to shoot
By loading the Ak barang,
He also started to act.
He, the hunter Kojojash,
Never let anyone touch his barang.
Many married and single women,
With his bride Zulayka next to him,
Brought the groom outside
Cheerfully like a newly appeared moon.
There were many kelins[16] and girls,
They brought him to the center,
"The groom is, indeed, a hunter," they said,
Excitement pouring from their heart,
They ran competing with each other.
From a distance where others shot,
Kojojash decided to shoot,
“I hope he shoots the kïyïk down”
The wish was in Zulayka’s heart,
The teeming crowd stood watching,
In order to shoot the kïyïk,
The hunter took his Ak barang.
He loaded powder not measuring,
Pushed the powder with a ramrod,
Pressed it hard with a single ramrod,
Let the long ramrod go through it,
And lit the fire on its ear.
Fire with a single push, he said,
Kup talkalap aldï emi,
The fish-like ear and fire-stone
He hit with a great force.
He lit fire on its trigger
And into the double tongue cock,
He pressed it very hard.
He got down on his one knee,
And held it firm to his face.
Then he aimed the gun at the kïyïk,
Alive souls with staring eyes,
Stood watching with eagerness.
He lit fire from the flint,
His skill was indeed so great,
The hunter Kojojash fired.
The kïyïk thinner than a strand,
He shot it down to the ground.
He made the girl’s father, Kojo
Happy in this way.
"He’s, indeed, a master hunter,
The bullet cut through the string
Of the kïyïk thinner than a strand.
The jambï as big as the horse’s head
He shot down to the ground [like a kalpak[17]].
How can Zulayka not like
The man with such a skill?"
He was happy for his daughter,
He pronounced his blessings to her,
Karakojo understood her now.
Those who saw it became contented,
Expressing their gratitude,
To the man like Kojojash.
Two times more than before,
The spirit of Zulayka
Became high and happy.
“The groom has shot the kïyïk down,” they said,
His jenges[18] and baldiz divided among themselves
The jambï award he received.
Hearing that he was a hunter,
Many, who had never seen,
Came especially to see him.
Kojojash, who was bad before,
To the glamorous beauty,
At once became her equal.
“No man can shoot like him,” they said,
"Look how he aimed and fired a gun.”
All those who witnessed and didn’t,
The crowd praised him very much.
He ended his daughter’s wedding
By giving her colorful dowry,
Thus Karakojo got ready,
To send his daughter away.
The place where Karakojo lived
Was the land near Kashkar.
He assembled great smiths,
With perfect workmanship,
As a gift from her father,
He got a gun called Almabash.
He had its back nicely painted,
Tested with an empty sümbö.
Had the back smoothened like that of fish’s,
And had its body straightened well.
He had it compared and measured
To Kojojash’s own Barang,
Which he carried himself.
To make its kise[19] beautiful,
He had it decorated with silver.
This gun called Almabash
Was the present tool from his father-in-law.
He gave them horses loaded the dowry
And sent them off on horseback,
They, who married based on love,
Kojojash and Zulayka,
Both of them he sent away.
He had her dowry loaded on atans[20],
Had its tassels tied like a scorpion,
And had it covered with a silk carpet.
"My child Zulayka is now married," he said
And became happy and content.
Karïpbay, leading the köch,[21]
Received joy from his son.
Many people saw them off
From the city of the girl.
He wasn’t known in Kïtay,
The hunting skill of the only one
Now became known to all.
After setting up a camp several times,
They arrived in their village,
Karïpbay offered a feast
To the rest of his people.
If one has a great skill,
Everybody like him,
Will leave a memory behind.
The feast offered by Karïpbay,
Was completed in happiness.

1. This expression signifies a woman becoming a widow. Traditionally, when her husband’s passes away, the widow wears a large black scarf as a sign of mourning which lasts up to a year.
2. Çangïl is a blurred, muddy, or foggy color.
3. Bek is a Turkic work for a “leader.” It is usually used  for men.
4. In the Kyrgyz text the singer uses the word “history book.” However, it is not clear which book he is referring to. It is possible that the singer must have heard about or seen some fortune tellers who used “Quran” or some other sacred book.
5. Kökjal is a traditional epithet for a hero, which literally means “one with gray a mane” i.e., “brave, strong.”
6. “The city with six gates” refers to the city of Kashkar in Eastern Turkestan.
7. Manap is a man who exercised his power over the poor people. During the Soviet period, manaps and the rich were portrayed as being feudalists and exploiters.
8. Mïrza means  “a brave man” or “Mister.” When Kyrgyz address someone officially they use “Mïrza” for “Mr.” It also gived the meaning of “generous.”
9. Kuda is a term address used by the in-laws when referring to each other. Only the fathers of a bride and groom are called kuda.
10. Kudagïy is also a traditional term of address for the mothers of a bride and groom.
11. Ulak (goat) is a traditional nomadic game played on horseback. Each horseman plays for himself by trying to take away the goat carcass from each other, which is filled with coarse wet salt.  The game is still popular in Central Asia. Each year on the Independence Day celebration, which is August 30th, Askar Akayev, President of Kyrgyzstan organizes a national ulak tournament. Ulak is also played at memorial feasts and at other major celebrations like weddings and sünnöt toys (circumcision ceremony) in the countryside.
12. These lines refer to a nomadic Kyrgyz custom. Traditionally, as the main part of the girl’s dowry, the nomadic Kyrgyz gave a new yurt with full inside and outside decorations. Before she leaves her home, when her groom and his parents and relatives come to take her, the girl’s parents throw a “kelin toy” i.e., a bridal feast to which all her relatives and neighbors are invited. At the farewell feast, the bride’s fully decorated yurt is erected and her new colorful clothes and scarves are thrown over a long rope inside her yurt in order to be seen and admired by the people, mostly women.
13. Jambï is another ancient game played by nomadic Kyrgyz. A small of bag filled with gold was hung on a high pole (about 3-4 meters long) and men tested their hunting skills by shooting it down while riding fast their horse. Whoever, shot the bag down received the gold in it.
14. Baldïz is a traditional term used for the younger sister of a bride. The bride’s younger sister will be a baldïz to her husband..
15. Bardenke is another type of gun.
16. Kelin is a term for young married women. It is also used for a new bride. Kyrgyz make a distinction between a girl and woman. One is not called a woman unless she is married.
17. Kalpak is a traditional hat worn my men. It is made from white felt.
18. Jenge is a traditional term for a sister-in-law. The bride’s sister-in-laws would also be jenge to her groom/husband.
19. Kise is a leather bag tied onto a waist belt. It was used for carrying a knife or firestone.
20. Atan is a male camel.
21. Köch (from köch- to move): As a noun it means the actual movement itself.
© 2004 Elmira Köçümkulkïzï