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Kazakhstan is full of architectural masterpieces reflecting its varied history. Southern Kazakhstan is home to a number of important Islamic buildings, including the Arystanbab Mosque (built in the 12th century), located near the ancient city of Otrar and the villages of Talapty and Kogam the Khoja Akhmed Yasavi Mausoleum (14th century), in the city of Tuumlrkistan and the Aisha-Bibi Mausoleum (10th century), in the city of Taraz.
Many new mosques have been built since independence. In the new capital, Astana, buildings were constructed or renovated specifically for the government’s move there in 1997 these include a modern complex in the city’s main square that serves as the government headquarters. The cities of Kazakhstan also contain examples of Russian architecture, such as the Zenkov Cathedral (built in 1904) in Almaty. The architecture of the Soviet period mostly took the form of drab, functional buildings.



Contemporary art goes from strength to strength in Kazakhstan and there is an evident desire in many ordinary Kazkhs to own and collect fine art. Rustam Khalfin - who has recorded a remarkable performance in which a soldier recreates the old Kazakh custom of making love to a woman on a galloping horse - is a star of the avant garde scene. Similarly, conceptual artists ‘The Red Tractor Group’ - a group of men who dress as nomadic shamans, beat leather drums and eat horsemeat and noodles as an art statement - have a signiciant following. Saule Suleimenova has captured the imaginations of audiences internationally with her inventive wax engravings on paper.



Evgeny Brussilovsky (1905-1981) was a Russian composer commissioned to research folk music in Kazakhstan. He spent most of his life in the Kazakh capital of Almaty where he wrote operas in national Kazakh style. Operas include Kiz-Ji-Bek (1934) and Er-Targhin (1937). On a totally different musical level is teenage Madu - Kazakhstan’s answer to Madonna. A pretty brunette, Madu has already sold 500,000 CDs. The prodigy is produced by John Themis — who was the force behind Boy George and cult Russian band TATU.


Traditionally, ‘aitys’ is a competitive performance of dueling, ad-libbing poets called ‘akyns’, who are aided and abetted by rhythmic Kazakh music. The form has become increasingly popular in modern Kazakhstan and pre dates the invention of American slams by over a century.
Normally an aitys is a ‘poetic debate’ on a chosen topic – usually a hot social issue. The contest calls for nimble wit and improvisation skill. During any aitys, the akyns expound expeditiously and wittily, all the while beating back their rivals. Good akyns must be acutely aware of political and economic realities - as the sharper and more informative their verbal stream, the greater their chance of victory. Throughout history, the ‘akyn’ acronym was only awarded to those poets capable of creating dazzling, unexpected poems. Akyns have their poetic narratives underlined with music played on traditional Kazakh string instruments like the ‘dombra’ and ‘kobyz’.


Date: 2015-12-11; view: 882

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