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17.09.09 23:13 Age: 9 yrs

The search for Murzapar

By: Roger and Megan

Our quest to locate the mysterious man of Karabulak



We'd been told about this tucked away village of Karabulak. The people of Bozadyr had directed us there because there was lots to see. On the way into the village (13/09), we stopped in the shade for a drink and a girl who was collecting water asked us in for chai. We didn't really have the time but we just popped in, only to be treated to some lovely Kurdak (fried potatoes and fat chunks), before being given directions to the centre of the village.

Riding through the center of town, we were soon invited to the house of a well respected lady (even the men of the village listened to her), where after learning about what we wanted to do, proceeded (with the help of her neighbour and daughter) to arrange an itinerary for us over the next few days. She was very interested in our project about the central asian cultures traditions, so that afternoon arranged a meeting with us and the director of the village musuem (in a village of some 500 people, the "museum" was a tiny house).

Meeting up with the museum director, we soon were enlightened with many more ideas of what we could seek out to film in the village, such things as Manaschi (people who could recite the whole Manas epic by heart), traditional instrument craftsmen, and traditional sportsmen.

Ironically each time we asked about seeing certain people/events/places/activities, they always came up with the same answer - a man called Murzapar. We asked who made traditional instruments, who could recite Manas, who knew the history of Karabulak, who could play certain instruments, who could do traditional wood carvings, and the answer was always Murzapar.

Thus it seemed that our quest for the rest of the day was to find this mysterious Murzapar. Upon talking to a few more people we were told he was in Osh, then by someone else that he was in Batken, then by someone else that he was in the mountains 10 km away, and then by someone else that he was 500 m down the street, along with many other stories of where he was. All the the people confirmed that they had just talked to him, so he had to be "there" - but where?

The next day our host spoke to his wife, who said he was in the mountains, and then to his daughter-in-law, who didn't know where he was, and then to some of his good friends who said he was at home. With all these options open to us, as to where he was, we jumped on Quikey, and decided to do a grand tour of the region, checking out all these places of his purported current residence.

After many hours riding (and still no closer to discovering where he was) we stumbled upon a group of men, who then directed us to his house (some 100 m right from where we were sitting!), where upon entering, we were greeted by his daugher in law. His daughter in law (he lived with her) didnt know where he was, but said that his wife taught traditional music at a nearby school, and that she would know. Riding to the school we soon met up with his wife, only to be told that he might be back "soon, sometime" and that we "might" be able to see him then.

We went back to his house to see whether he was back there yet and found the daughter in law again. He wasn't there, but she invited us in for some lunch. About 10 minutes later, a man came through the front gates and went straight inside as if he owned the place. A few minutes later he came back outside and sat with us at the table. We asked him - "are you Murzapar?" And he confirmed, yes it was him!

We'd found him, and for the next few hours we sat with him (and his wife when she returned) and chatted about his work. He is going to send us his latest book when his son translates it into English.

He was the polymath of the region, an expert on the history, ecology, culture, handicrafts, literature, traditions, geography and everything else to do the region - a man that everyone looked up to and respected; a man who's geniousness and fame sent him hiding out into reclusiveness, to distance himself from the rest of the outside populace, to he could concentrate on his introspection, ponderings, and subsequent writings.

Thus a few hours later after a brief chat, we were no closer to seeing all of the things we came to see, but slightly more enlightened to the personality cult of Muzarpar in this village. It was with the help of many more people in the village that we were later able to complete our quest to see and record/document all the other traditions and cultures in the village that we initially set out to.