Magtymguly Pyragy

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Magtymguly Pyragy
Pochtovaia marka SSSR No.  5446. 1983. 250-letie so dnia rozhdeniia Makhtumkuli.jpg
A Soviet Union stamp with an artistic depiction of Magtymguly Pyragy, 1983
Native name
مختومقلی فراغی
c.1724 (1724) or (1733-05-18)18 May 1733
Haji Qushan, Khorasan, Safavid Iran
Diedc.1807 (1808) (aged 74-83)
Giňjaý, Akdepe (vicinity of the Etrek river), Khorasan, Qajar Iran
Resting place Aq Taqeh-ye Qadim, Golestan Province, Iran
Pen namePyragy (Feraghi)
Occupation Poet, sufi
Language Turkmen, Persian, Arabic
Nationality Turkmen
Alma materIdris Baba Madrassah, Gögeldaş Madrassah, (Emirate of Bukhara), Şirgazy Madrassah, (Khanate of Khiva)
Period Golden Age of Turkmen literature
Genre Poetry, qoshuk form
Subject Patriotism, social inequality, love
Literary movement Realism
Notable works Türkmeniň
SpouseAkgyz (disputed)
Children2 sons
Parents Döwletmämmet Azady , Orazgül (disputed)

Magtymguly Pyragy (Persian: مختومقلی فراغی Makhtumqoli Faraghi; Turkmen : Magtymguly Pyragy; Turkmen pronunciation:  [mɑɡtɯmɡʊlɯ pɯɾɑɡɯ] ; Turkish : Mahtumkulu Firaki; [1] c.1724-1733 [2] [3] [4] c. 1807), [4] born Magtymguly, was a Turkmen spiritual leader, philosophical poet, and sufi, who is considered to be the father of the Turkmen literature [5] and the most famous figure in Turkmen literary history. [6]


Many Turkmens regard Magtymguly's poems as a pinnacle of Turkmen literature; they are often found in the homes of Turkmen-speaking people, who learn his poems by heart and use them as proverbs and sayings. His life and poems have become the subjects of much analysis, commentary and interpretation, and have influenced post-18th century Turkmen writing more than the works of any other author. [7]

In a wider context, Magtymguly is often placed alongside major figures of the Turkic literary world such as Hoja Ahmad Yasawi, Yunus Emre, Ali-Shir Nava'i and Fizuli. [8]


Early life and education

Magtymguly was born in Haji Qushan, a village near the city of Gonbad-e Qabus in the modern-day province of Golestan, Iran, the northern steppes of which are known as Turkmen Sahra (Turkmen steppes). It was part of the extensive Safavid Empire in the first half of the 18th century. [9]

Magtymguly's father was Döwletmämmet Azady , himself a prominent poet. His father was also a local teacher and mullah, and was highly regarded by his people. [10] Magtymguly's mother's name was probably Orazgül, though this claim is not universally accepted. [11] Not much is known about Magtymguly's siblings, nor how many there were at all. Prominent Turkmen historian A.Aşyrow, who conducted substantial research on Magtymguly's biography, names Abdylla and Mämmetsapa as his brothers and Zübeýda as his sister. [12]

Magtymguly received his early education in the Turkmen, Persian and Arabic languages from his father Azady. [13] He continued his studies in various madrassahs (religious school of higher learning), including Idris Baba madrassah in the village of Gyzyl Aýak, Şirgazy madrassah in Khiva and Gögeldaş madrassah in Bukhara. [14] [15]

Magtymguly provided basic information about himself, his family and children in his poetry. In one of his poems, Magtymguly states: "Tell those who enquire about me that I am a Gerkez, I hail from Etrek and my name is Magtymguly", [16] identifying his homeland as the banks of the Etrek River and expressing his identity through his tribe. [17]

Later life

After finishing his studies and returning home, Magtymguly worked as a silversmith; he also taught local children and was engaged in writing poetry. [18] He developed a realistic style of writing about 18th-century Turkmens that became very popular and led to him becoming one of the most cherished Turkmen poets of all time. He was a devout naqshbandi sufi, who was said to have travelled throughout all of the lands comprising modern Turkmenistan, teaching and praying for the salvation of his people. [19] His strong religiosity and deep sense of spirituality are found in poems such as Gaşy ýaý and Söýmüşem seni. [20]

Not much is known about Magtymguly's family life. He was unable to marry a woman he loved from his own village, Meňli, whom he dedicated a great deal of his love poems. It may be implied though, through some of his poems and several other sources, that he was married to the wife of his deceased brother, Akgyz, after he was asked to do so by the local council of aksakgals (esteemed elders). [21]

The following is the excerpt from Magtymguly's Aýryldym (Separated) poem dedicated to Meňli (in original Turkmen and its English translation): [22]

Apparently, after losing the love of his life, Magtymguly started composing under the Pyragy laqab (pseudonym), which is translated as "separated" from Arabic. [23]

Magtymguly's brothers Abdylla and Mämmetsapa disappeared, presumably while on a mission on behalf of their people in Iran, and his two children [24] died young. Magtymguly was also pained by the death of his father, with whom he had maintained close relations throughout his life. [18] Some of Magtymguly's poetry, along with stories collected from Turkmen oral traditions, suggest he was taken prisoner, likely in Mashhad, Iran. It is unknown who took him captive, but such events were common in 18th-century Iran and Turkmenistan. A servant of the ruler, who was also a Turkmen, allegedly aided Magtymguly's escape. [18]

Magtymguly died in 1807 in the place known as Giňjaý, situated on the bank of Etrek River, [25] while his resting place is in the village of Aq Taqeh-ye Qadim, in Golestan Province, Iran. [26]

Sufism and mysticism

Magtymguly's adherence to Sufism is a matter of popular debate since several, if not all, of his poems that had religious, Sufi or mystic background and motives were not published until lately. Those poems stress certain teachings and practices of the Quran and the sunnah, and describe ethical and spiritual goals. Magtymguly's Yşkyň kitabyn açaly (Let's open the Book of Love) is an excellent example: [27]

Note: The first four lines is the original (Turkmen) language of the poem written using Arabic alphabet as in one of the earliest manuscripts, while next are in modern Turkmen alphabet; English translation is provided further down.

عاشق فراق دير عرضين
روزه نماز ديان فرضين
Aşyk Pyrak diýer arzyn,
Roza, namaz diýen parzyn,
Feraghi-in-love will state his will,
Our sacred duty is to pray and fast,
بوينومزده اوش بو قرضين
جان چقمان بريب كچلی
Boýnumyzda uşbu karzyn,
Jan çykman berip geçeli!
We have this debt on our shoulders,
Let's return it before we leave!

Sufism is also present in Magtymguly's Bady-sabany görsem (If I could feel the Eastern breeze) poem, where he wishes to see all the renowned Sufis of the East:

All three people Magtymguly wishes to have seen (known) are considered prominent figures in Sufism, with Baha' al-Din Naqshband being the founder of one of the largest Sufi Sunni orders, the Naqshbandi. [28] [29]

It is also believed that Magtymguly's father, Azady, was also a Sufi. [30]

Political ideals

Magtymguly promoted the idea of keeping the "Turkmen way" sacred and of maintaining the unity and integrity of the Turkmen people. During his lifetime, his efforts had minimal success overcoming the existing tribal loyalties and rivalries. [31] His poem Bäşimiz is an exemplary illustration of the call for unity. [32]

The Turkmen tribes of the 18th century were torn by internal violence and the aggression of powerful neighbors. Much of Magtymguly's poetry depicts the suffering of the common people caused by the selfishness of those in power. [33] Magtymguly criticized rulers and religious figures for their exploitation of the poor and their mockery of justice in such stanzas as: [34]

Khans of Gökleň have been spoiled,
They think we do not deserve any comfort.
They took away all our belongings,
We could not do anything but watch them.


Magtymguly Pyragy on Soviet Ruble, 1991 USSR-1991-1ruble-CuNi-Magtymguly-b.jpg
Magtymguly Pyragy on Soviet Ruble, 1991

Magtymguly was one of the first Turkmen poets to introduce the use of classical Chagatai, the court language of the Khans of Central Asia, as a literary language, incorporating many Turkmen linguistic features. [35] His poetry exemplifies a trend towards increased use of Turkic languages rather than Persian; he is revered as the founder of Turkmen poetry, literature and language. [36] His poetry gave start to an era litterateurs depict as the "Golden age" in Turkmen literature. [37] Magtymguly is widely considered holy among Turkmen communities and his poems are often quoted as proverbs in Turkmen society. [38] Magtymguly's literary genre mostly adhered to realism. [39]

Magtymguly most often promoted patriotism, despised social inequality and hailed love in his poems. [40] He made much use of the qoshuk form of poetry, [41] which features prominently in Turkmen folk songs and is easily adapted to Turkmen musical forms. The qoshuk form consists of quatrains with lines consisting of eight or eleven syllables, and follows a rhyming scheme of ABCB for the first stanza, and CCCB and DDDB for the following stanzas. The compatibility of Magtymguly's poems with traditional musical forms allowed them to be easily adopted by bakhshis (traditional singers). [42]

Magtymguly's first poem "By night when I was asleep ... Revelation" is thought to have been composed following an incident that occurred when Magtymguly was a child. His family were invited to a wedding, but Magtymguly fell asleep, so his parents left him behind. As he slept, he began to foam at the mouth and his parents were called back to the house. When his father awoke him, Magtymguly recited his first poem. [34] Another of Magtymguly's poems recounts a dream in which Omar Khayyam bestowed upon him the gift of poetic invention. [43]

Magtymguly's poetry is often personal and takes up universal themes. His work includes elegies on the deaths of his father and children, the disappearance of his brothers, incitements to Turkmen unity, tirades against unjust mullahs and khans, praises of religious figures (such as the Twelve Imams), and laments at losing his lover to another man. [44]

On one occasion, Magtymguly's village was raided and his possessions, including poetry manuscripts, were carried away on a camel. The camel slipped, spilling the manuscript into the Etrek River. Upon seeing this, Magtymguly composed the following lines: "Flood took my manuscript, thus leaving me behind with tears in my eyes". [34] The poem also contains the lines:

"Making my dear life lost to all that's good,
An evil fate wrought awesome sacrilege,
Hurling the books I'd written to the flood,
To leave me bookless with my grief and rage." [34]

Although Magtymguly apparently recorded much of his poetry, none of the original texts are currently known. The existence of a few manuscripts is chronicled by scholars working under the Russian Empire. Following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, however, Soviet policy regarded texts written in the Arabic script as religious, leading to the destruction of many of his manuscripts. Many Turkmen who possessed manuscripts buried them while fleeing the Soviet Union to Iran. [45]


Magtymguly's most famous poem among the Turkmen people is Türkmeniň (of the Turkmen). The poem depicts the beauty of the Turkmen land, praises the valor and spirit of the Turkmen people, and calls for the unity of all Turkmens. [46]

The following is Magtymguly's Türkmeniň poem with the text transliterated into Turkmen (Latin) letters, whereas the original language is preserved. The second column is the poem's Turkish translation and the third one is its English translation.


His statue in Kyiv, Ukraine KiewMagtymgulyPyragyBuste.jpg
His statue in Kyiv, Ukraine
Banknote of 10 manat of Turkmenistan with the image of Magtymguly (2009) 10 manat. Turkmenistan, 2009 a.jpg
Banknote of 10 manat of Turkmenistan with the image of Magtymguly (2009)

June 27 is celebrated in Turkmenistan as "the Day of Workers of Culture and Arts and the poetry of Magtymguly Fragi". [48]


Monuments to Magtymguly Pyragy are installed in cities across the former USSR, including Kyiv (Kiev), Astrakhan, Tashkent, [49] and Khiva, as well as in Iran and Turkey. A monument to Magtymguly made of concrete and natural stone was erected in Magtymguly Square on Magtymguly Avenue in the center of Ashgabat in 1971. [50]


Institutions and organizations

The following are named after Magtymguly:



1959 postage stamp of the USSR 1959 CPA 2364.jpg
1959 postage stamp of the USSR

In 1959, the USSR issued a postage stamp to mark the 225th anniversary of the birth of Magtymguly. [60] In 1983, the USSR issued another stamp to mark the 250th anniversary of his birth. [61] Turkmenistan issued a 10 manat banknote bearing his likeness in 2009.


See also

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