Historiography Of Post-Soviet Кyrgyzstan


One of the positions officially adopted by Soviet Kyrgyz historiography was that «[t]he Kyrgyz people, as well known, did not have their own written culture and written literature» before the Soviet epoch (see Ploskih 1984, 645). Thus, the medieval and pre-Soviet written monuments of the Kyrgyz nation were not taken into account. Among them were the Enissei Kyrgyz’s written heritage of the 8th to the 12th centuries, including the Sujiin-Davan inscription of the Kyrgyz lord in northern Mongolia (mid-9th century). An Arab geographer, Abu Dulaf (10th century), wrote that the Kyrgyz were using their own script (presumably the Enissei’s rune-like inscriptions). Buddhist manuscript copies were ordered by the Kyrgyz lords in the 9th and 10th centuries. The Syrian-Nestorian, so-called Uighur, Soghdian, and Arabic written monuments and epigraphic inscriptions of the Central Asian peoples who were regular historical parts of the modem Kyrgyz nation were saved in Kyrgyzstan (Edilbaev and Kylychev 1995, 246-49; Jumagulov 1963-87).
The Kyrgyz used Arabic script from approximately the 10th century (Islam became a state religion after 960 by decree of the Karakhanids) until 1928. (The Kyrgyz living in China and Afghanistan continue to use this script even now). Latin script was adopted in Kyrgyzstan in 1928 and was used until 1940, when the Stalinist regime ordered all the Turkic nations of the Soviet Union to change to Cyrillic. (The Armenians and Georgians continue to use their pre-Soviet national scripts). Thus, the Kyrgyz had to change their script twice within twelve years—a hardship on adults, who found learning the new scripts difficult and wanted to use their already acquired reading and writing skills. Within a few days, they became illiterate. A lot of the old books were destroyed during the repression and persecutions of pre-Soviet intellectuals. These actions were part of the so-called socialist cultural revolution in the 1920s-30s.

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