The Memorial Feast for Kökötöy Khan

The Memorial Feast for Kökötöy Khan

A Kirghiz Epic Poem in the Manas Tradition


This great Central Asian epic, passed down through generations and now brought to life in a new translation, carries the reader into a world of nomads, warriors and horselords

'I am a steel-fanged lion, a dragon ready to pounce, a mighty poplar with golden branches rising up to the sky'

The bard Saghïmbay Orozbaq uulu composed his oral telling of the great Central Asian Manas epic in the early twentieth century, although it draws on far older sources. This vivid episode from his narrative tells the bravura story of an uncertain new khan, Boqmurun, who holds a great feast to commemorate his predecessor, Kökötöy. From east and west, warriors and their turbulent retinues come to compete in horse races, jousting and wrestling, and soon insults are hurled and scores settled violently. Yet none can beat the supreme hero, the mighty, truculent Manas. By turns earthy, stirring, bombastic and funny, Saghïmbay's work stands as a monument to the oral culture of a nomadic people.

Daniel Prior's landmark translation includes a 'How to Read the Epic' section, commentary, maps and illustrations.

Composed in oral performance by Saghïmbay Orozbaq uulu
Translated by Daniel Prior


  • Prior's translation ... is written in clear, idiomatic, and often lively English ... Prior's reliable and well annotated translation ... will certainly help further the popularity of the Kirghiz epic tradition.
    Karl Reichl, Turkic Languages

About the author

Saghïmbay Orozbaq uulu

Saghïmbay Orozbaq uulu (1867-1930) was a traditional Kirghiz bard who lived long enough to have his extempore performances written down by Soviet folklorists in the early 1920s.
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