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Epic and the Writing of Northern Kirghiz History
Editor / Translator:
In The Šabdan Baatır Codex, Daniel Prior presents the first complete edition, translation, and interpretation of a unique manuscript of early twentieth-century Kirghiz poetry, which includes detailed accounts of nineteenth-century warfare. Dedicated to the chief Šabdan Baatır, the Codex occupies an illuminating position in a network of oral and written genres that encompassed epic poetry and genealogy, panegyric and steppe oral historiography; that echoed oral performance and aspired to print publishing. The Codex’s fresh articulation of concepts of Kirghiz self-identification was incipiently national, yet remained couched in traditional forms. The Codex thus bridges the interval, often glossed over in cultural histories, between a supposedly archaic state of oral epic tradition and the “afterlife” of epics in modern ethno-nationalist projects.