Kara-Kalpak Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Kara-Kalpak Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic


(Karakalpakstan Avtomiyälï Sovet Sotsialistik Respüblikasí), Kara-Kalpakia (Kara-Kalpakstan). Formed Mar. 20, 1932. Part of the Uzbek SSR since Dec. 5, 1936. Located in the northwest of the Uzbek SSR. Area, 165, 600 sq km (37 pecent of Uzbekistan’s area). Population, 744, 000 (1972; about 6 percent of the Uzbek SSR’s total population). The Kara-Kalpak ASSR has 12 administrative raions, eight cities, and nine urban-type settlements. The capital is the city of Nukus.

Constitution and government. The Kara-Kalpak ASSR is a socialist, workers’ and peasants’ state, an autonomous soviet socialist republic. The constitution now in force was adopted on Mar. 23, 1937, by the Third Extraordinary Congress of Soviets of the Kara-Kalpak ASSR. The highest organs of state power are the unicameral Supreme Soviet of the Kara-Kalpak ASSR, elected by the people for four-year terms on the basis of one deputy per 3, 000 population, and its Presidium. The Supreme Soviet forms the government of the republic—the Council of Ministers of the Kara-Kalpak ASSR. The Kara-Kalpak ASSR is represented by 11 deputies in the Soviet of Nationalities of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. The local organs of state power are the soviets of working peoples’ deputies of the cities, raions, settlements, kishlaks (hamlets), and auls (villages), elected by the people for two-year terms.

The Supreme Soviet of the Kara-Kalpak ASSR elects the republic’s Supreme Court, which consists of two judicial divisions (one for criminal and one for civil cases), and the Supreme Court’s presidium for five-year terms. The procurator of the Kara-Kalpak ASSR is appointed by the procurator general of the USSR for a five-year term.

Natural features. Kara-Kalpakia occupies the northwestern portion of the Kyzylkum Desert, the southeastern part of the Ustiurt (Ust-Urt) plateau, and the Amu Darya Delta. The southern part of the Aral Sea is located in Kara-Kalpakia. The northwestern part of the Kyzylkum is a vast, flat plain (elevations of 75–100 m), inclined toward the Aral Sea and covered primarily by tracts of ridged sands and barchans. There are isolated mountain massifs (the largest is Sultanuizdag in the southeast with elevations to 473 m). There are many channels, small lakes, tugai (gallery forest) and reed thickets, and swampy areas in the Amu Darya Delta. The right-bank section of the delta has more irrigated land and irrigation canals. The Ustiurt plateau, located in the west (elevations to 292 m, Karabaur), has a number of depressions, the largest of which—Barsakel’mes and Assake-Audan—are at elevations of 29–101 m. The plateau breaks off in steep scarps toward the Aral Sea and the Amu Darya Delta. The northern edge of the Sarykamysh Depression is located to the southeast of the Ustiurt plateau.

There are deposits of common salt, Glauber salt, mineral building materials, and minerals.

The climate is sharply continental and is characterized by dry, hot summers and comparatively cold, snowless winters. Average January temperatures are −4.9°C in the south and −7.6°C in the north. Average July temperatures are 28.2°C in the south and 26°C in the north. Annual precipitation totals about 110 mm, falling primarily in the winter-spring period. The frostless period (194–214 days) is adequate for the cultivation of cotton.

The Amu Darya (lower course), Kara-Kalpakia’s only river, splits up into branches 100 km from its mouth, forming a vast delta. The river’s waters are used for irrigation; there are embankments. During high water, the Amu Darya frequently changes its channel, washing away its banks. In the spring, when there is ice blockage, the river floods large areas. Its flow into the Aral Sea has decreased because its waters are used for irrigation in the upper and middle courses.

In the valley and delta of the Amu Darya, the soils are Sierozem-meadow. There are primitive sandy sierozems in the Kyzylkum Desert and grayish brown soils, takyrs (compact clayey areas), and solonchaks on the Ustiurt plateau. The sandy expanses of the Kyzylkum are covered by sparse grassy-scrubby desert vegetation (sedges, xerophyllic grasses, wormwoods, ephemerals, Calligonum, cherkez [Salsola paletzkiana]); arborescent vegetation includes saxaul. The Amu Darya Delta is rich in tugai vegetation (Euphrates poplar, Russian olive, tamarisk, cane).

The desert is inhabited by reptiles (lizards and snakes), rodents (susliks, gerbils, jerboas), large mammals (Persian gazelles, wolves, foxes), birds (Pander’s ground jays [saxaul jays], golden eagles, bustards, larks), and arachnids (scorpions, solpugids). The fauna of the tugáis is richer and includes such birds as pheasants, ducks, geese, cormorants, and sandpipers and such mammals as jackals, jungle cats, wolves, foxes, cape hares, and wild boars. The muskrat has been acclimatized. The game fish inhabiting the Amu Darya and Aral Sea include the ship sturgeon, common carp, bream, and catfish. The rare shovelnose sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus) still survives in the Amu Darya.

Population. The Kara-Kalpaks are the indigenous population (218, 000; data here and below are that of the 1970 census). Other nationalities include the Uzbeks (213, 000), Kazakh (186, 000), Turkmen (38, 000), Russians (25, 000), Koreans (9, 000), Tatars (8, 000), and Ukrainians (2, 000). The population totaled 331,000 in 1926, 476, 000 in 1939, 510, 000 in 1959, and 744, 000 in 1972. The average density is 4.5 persons per sq km (1972). In agricultural regions the density varies between 26 and more than 90 persons per sq km; in the desert regions it decreases to 0.5 per sq km. Between 1926 and 1972 the urban population increased from 5 percent to 36 percent. The cities are Nukus (81,000, 1972), Khodzheili (38, 000), Biruni (22, 000), Takhiatash (22, 000), Turtkul’ (20, 000), Chimbai (20, 000), Kungrad (13, 000), and Muinak (10, 000).

Historical survey. Kara-Kalpakia was first settled in the Neolithic period (end of the fourth millennium to the beginning of the second millennium B.C.). Irrigated farming arose at the end of the second millennium B.C. The most ancient written remains of Uzbekistan (fourth century B.C.) have been found during excavations of the Koi-Krylgan-Kala cultic structure. The palace of Toprak-Kala (third century or early fourth century A.D.) is an outstanding example of the late classical period. The ethno-genesis of the Kara-Kalpaks is connected with the tribes that settled the delta and steppes regions of the Syr Darya River and the Aral Sea.

During the 17th century to the mid-18th, most of the Kara-Kalpaks occupied the area surrounding the middle and lower Syr Darya. They led a seminomadic way of life and engaged in stock raising, farming, and fishing. Power was held by the feudal clan nobility and Muslim religious leaders. The Kara-Kalpaks were dependent on the Kazakh khans of the Little Hoard. In 1742 the constant attacks of the neighboring tribes caused the Kara-Kalpaks to send ambassadors to Orenburg and St. Petersburg to request Russian citizenship. The Russian government complied with the request. This prompted the Kazakh khan Abulkhair to attack the Kara-Kalpaks in 1743. As a result, most of the Kara-Kalpaks had moved from the Syr Darya to the western channel of its delta, the Zhana Darya, by the middle of the 18th century. In the late 18th century, the Khiva khans began actions to conquer the Kara-Kalpaks, which in 1811 culminated in the subjugation of the Kara-Kalpaks and their resettlement to the Amu Darya Delta. Within a brief period of time, the Kara-Kalpaks created several new farming regions in the Khiva Khanate. The oppression of the Kara-Kalpaks by the local and Khiva nobility resulted in major uprisings against the khans in 1855–56 and 1858–59. These were harshly suppressed. The insurgents strove to rid themselves of the Khiva yoke and unite with Russia. This was prevented, however, by the Kara-Kalpak feudal lords, who collaborated with the Khiva government to preserve their privileges.

After the campaign of the tsarist forces against Khiva in 1873 and the conclusion of an agreement with the Khiva khan establishing Russia’s protectorate, the territory of the Kara-Kalpaks on the right bank of the Amu Darya was united with Russia. The Amu Darya Division was formed, which in 1887 became part of the Syr Darya Region of the Turkestan Governor-Generalship. The few Kara-Kalpaks living on the left bank remained part of the Khiva Khanate. The incorporation of right-bank Kara-Kalpakia into Russia was objectively progressive: the establishment of direct ties between the peoples of Kara-Kalpakia and Russia and the entry of Kara-Kalpakia into the general stream of capitalist development promoted the growth of commodity cotton cultivation and the establishment of the first industrial enterprises. The first national groups of workers appeared at the beginning of the 20th century. Combined Russian and native general education schools were opened. Internecine feudal warfare and the continuous raids suffered by the population ceased. At the same time, the inclusion of Kara-Kalpakia in the Russian Empire brought increased oppression of the toiling masses: they were robbed both by the local bais (wealthy stock raisers, merchants, or landowners) and religious leaders and by the tsarist administration. The population of the vassal Khiva Khanate was still more deprived of rights than that of colonial Turkestan. The farms of poor peasants and hired laborers accounted for about 70 percent of all peasant farms in prerevolutionary Kara-Kalpakia. Agricultural techniques and irrigation remained primitive. There were only a few cotton mills of a semicottage nature. Colonial oppression intensified in the early 20th century, particularly during World War 1 (1914–18). Uprisings against the autocracy erupted in Middle Asia under the influence of the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat of Russia. The Kara-Kalpaks participated in the revolutionary actions of 1905–07 and in the Middle Asian Uprising of 1916. The main seats of rebellion in Amu Darya Division were the city of Chimbai and Sarybii Volost’ (small rural district), Shurakhan District. After the February Revolution of 1917, soviets were established in Petroaleksandrovsk (Turtkul’), Shurakhan, and Chimbai. The Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries, who predominated in the soviets, supported the bourgeois Provisional Government. The first Bolshevik organizations arose in Petroaleksandrovsk in the second half of October 1917.

After the victory of the October Revolution in Central Russia and Turkestan, Soviet power was established in right-bank Kara-Kalpakia in the first half of December 1917. In April 1918 it became part of the Turkestan ASSR. During the Civil War (1918–20), the Kara-Kalpak workers fought against the basmachi (participants of counterrevolutionary bands in Middle Asia). The basmach bands of Junaid Khan attempted to capture the city of Petroaleksandrovsk in November and December 1918, but the city withstood the 11-day siege. Shabbaz and Nukus were also under attack by the basmachi. In September 1919 a revolutionary committee (chaired by the Communist N. A. Shaidakov) was established in Petroaleksandrovsk by a resolution of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Turkestan republic. It became the center of the revolutionary forces of Kara-Kalpakia. A counterrevolutionary rebellion erupted in Chimbai in August 1919. Its leaders—Ural cossack kulaks, local feudal lords, and Muslim religious leaders—received support from ataman A. I. Dutov and Junaid Khan. The rebels took Chimbai, Muinak, and Nukus. In February 1920 the rebellion was suppressed. In April 1920 the Khorezm People’s Soviet Republic (1920–24), which included left-bank Kara-Kalpakia, was formed on the site of the former Khiva Khanate. In December 1920, Amu Darya Division became Amu Darya Oblast of the Turkestan ASSR. On June 25, 1921, the oblast party organization of Kara-Kalpakia was formed at the First Oblast Party Conference.

On Oct. 14, 1924, the second session of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee adopted a resolution under which the part of the Turkestan ASSR with a predominantly Kara-Kalpak population was separated out as the Kara-Kalpak Autonomous Oblast in the course of the national-state demarcation of Soviet Republics of Middle Asia. The Kara-Kalpak districts of the Khorezm Republic were also included in the autonomous oblast. The establishment of the Kara-Kalpak Autonomous Oblast was proclaimed and legislatively formalized by the First Constituent Congress of Soviets (in the city of Turtkul’, Feb. 12–19, 1925). Kara-Kalpakia became part of the Kazakh ASSR and on July 20, 1930, part of the RSFSR. On Mar. 20, 1932, the autonomous oblast was transformed into the Kara-Kalpak ASSR, which became part of the Uzbek SSR in 1936.

The Kara-Kalpaks achieved the transition to socialism, bypassing the capitalist stage of development, with the aid of all the peoples of the USSR during the period of socialist construction. A local cotton-ginning industry and socialist agriculture were established. In the course of collectivization, the power of the bais and kulaks was destroyed. Irrigated farming was transformed. The harvest of cotton, the republic’s main agricultural crop, increased considerably. The cultural revolution was carried out. Illiteracy was eliminated (before the Great October Socialist Revolution, 0.2 percent of the total population of Kara-Kalpakia was literate), the clan and feudal vestiges previously existing in Kara-Kalpakia virtually disappeared, national cadres of the working class and intelligentsia emerged, and higher educational institutions, research insititutions, libraries, clubs, and the like were established.

During the Great Patriotic War (1941–45), thousands of Kara-Kalpak workers were awarded orders and medals for patriotism displayed at the front and in the rear; 14 people were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.

The economy of Kara-Kalpakia developed and strengthened further during the postwar years. The Kara-Kalpak people consolidated into a socialist nation. On Dec. 25, 1959, Kara-Kalpakia was awarded the Order of Lenin for its successful development of cotton cultivation. It was awarded the Order of Friendship of Peoples on Dec. 29, 1972, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.


Economy. Under Soviet power, Kara-Kalpakia has been transformed into a republic with a developed socialist economy.

INDUSTRY. The branches of industry connected with the processing of agricultural raw materials, the production of building materials, and metalworking are the most highly developed. The gross industrial output in 1971 was 4.8 times greater than in 1940. Table 1 lists the output of some industrial products.

Table 1. Output of some industrial products
Electric power, kW-hr..3, 600, 00010, 500, 0001, 053, 000, 000
Building bricks......12, 000, 0008, 000, 00090, 000, 000
Cotton fiber, tons.....34, 50041,000114, 000
Vegetable oil, tons....306, 90022, 600
Canned goods, standard
20, 00010, 600, 00012, 800, 000

The leading branch of industry is cotton ginning (seven plants). Directly connected with this branch is the seed oil extracting industry (three plants), which processes cotton seeds. The fishing industry is important on a nation-wide scale (the Muinak Fish-canning Combine); the 1971 catch totaled 7, 600 tons. The building-materials industry is represented by plants for the production of bricks, reinforced-concrete structures, and limestone and a house-building combine. Metalworking enterprises conduct repairs of motor vehicles, ships, and agricultural, highway, and building equipment. There are enterprises producing clothing, footwear, furniture, macaroni, flour, and meat and dairy products. Most of the industrial enterprises are located in the cities of Nukus, Khodzheili, Takhiatash, Muinak, and Chimbai. The Takhiatash State Regional Power Plant (252, 000 kW) supplies Kara-Kalpakia as well as Khorezm Oblast of the Uzbek SSR and Tashauz Oblast of the Turkmen SSR with electric power. In late 1969, Kara-Kalpakia was linked up with the Unified Power System of Middle Asia.

AGRICULTURE. In 1971, Kara-Kalpakia had 62 sovkhozes and 45 kolkhozes. There were more than 20, 500 tractors (in 15-hp units), more than 2, 000 cotton pickers, 2, 800 motor vehicles, and more than 1,000 excavating machines. Agricultural land totals 2, 662, 000 hectares (ha; 1971), of which 209, 200 ha are arable and 2, 443, 700 ha are occupied by hayfields and pastures (see Table 2). Farming is conducted only on irrigated land. During the years of socialist construction, the old irrigation systems have been basically reconstructed and large new irrigation canals built, including the lenin, Kyzketken, and Pakhtaarna canals. Construction of the Takhiatash and Tiuiamuiun (with hydro-electric power plants) dams is under way on the Amu Darya (1973). These dams will facilitate the further development of new lands, as well as improve the water intake conditions of the irrigation canals of the lower Amu Darya.

Table 2. Cultivated crops, hectares
Total sown area....109, 500154, 600159, 000214, 800
Cereal crops78, 90047, 80030, 90028, 700
including rice4, 10010, 9008, 10026, 100
Cotton11, 80060, 90083, 600131,000
Potatoes, vegetables,
and melon crops
1, 9005, 7003, 0006, 800
Fodder crops13, 70038, 80038, 50048, 200

The principal agricultural crop is cotton. Kara-Kalpakia accounts for 7.1 percent of Uzbekistan’s total harvest of raw cotton. The main cereal crop is rice. Alfalfa is an important field crop and is cultivated for seeds and as a valuable fodder. Kara-Kalpakia is the USSR’s leading producer of seed alfalfa. The gross harvest in 1971 totaled 321,000 tons of raw cotton, 67, 000 tons of rice, and 27, 000 tons of melons. Kara-Kalpakia is known for the famous Khorezm melons. Fruit and berry plantings total 4, 500 ha.

Stock raising is based on the vast desert pastures and the rich tugai vegetation in the Amu Darya Delta. Sheep, particularly karakuls (6 percent of all livestock of the Uzbek SSR); cattle, particularly beef cattle (see Table 3); horses; and camels are raised. Sericulture (653 tons of cocoons in 1971) and fur farming (muskrat, mink) are developed.

In 1971 the output of livestock produce totaled 13, 000 tons of meat (dressed weight; 6, 800 in 1955), 91, 300 tons of milk (37, 900), 1, 682, tons of wool (685), and 41, 800, 000 eggs (14, 400, 000).

The 1971 state purchases totaled 321,000 tons of raw cotton (139, 000 in 1950); 57, 400 tons of grain (6, 500), including 56, 400 tons of rice (4, 100); 15, 300 tons of vegetables (300); 17, 400 tons of melons (200); 10, 400 tons of cattle and poultry (3, 500); 19, 300 tons of milk (5, 100); 13, 700, 000 eggs (962, 000); 1, 546 tons of wool (315 tons); and 653 tons of cocoons (302).

TRANSPORTATION. The Chardzhov-Kungrad railroad, which was constructed in the 1950’s and linked Kara-Kalpakia to the railroad system of Middle Asia, has been extended through Beineu to Makat and has become the second railroad outlet from Middle Asia to the European part of the country. There is navigation on the Amu Darya and the Aral Sea. Paved highways total 1, 172 km (Jan. 1, 1972). The Bukhara-Muinak highway has been built. Air transport is developed. Sections of the Bukhara-Urals and Middle Asia-Central USSR gas pipelines pass through Kara-Kalpakia.

Kara-Kalpakia is a supplier of cotton fiber, rice, canned fish, silk cocoons, karakul, muskrat pelts, and wool. Coal, petroleum products, machinery, lumber, and mineral fertilizers are brought in from other parts of the USSR.

Table 3. Livestock (number of head at beginning of year)
Cattle........170, 900145, 300272, 100
including cows......61, 80044, 800105, 700
Sheep and goats......293, 500351,000461, 600

INTERNAL DIFFERENCES. The southern part specializes in cotton growing and sericulture. Karakuls and camels are raised in the Kyzylkum. Industry comprises cotton ginning and vegetable-oil extraction. In the north, cotton and rice cultivation and stock raising are developing rapidly. In the coastal strip there is fish breeding, fur farming, stock raising, and horse breeding in herds. Industry comprises cotton ginning, fishing, seed oil extraction, and metalworking.

The standard of living is steadily rising with the republic’s increasing national income. The retail trade turnover totaled 280.8 million rubles in 1971 (122.8 million rubles in 1960). In 1971 state and cooperative enterprises and organizations and home-building cooperatives constructed residences with a total area of 134, 100 sq m; kolkhozes, members of kolkhozes, and the rural intelligentsia were responsible for 139, 300 sq m; and industrial and office workers, at their own expense and with the aid of state credit, built 172, 700 sq m. The social insurance and pension funds of the population are growing.


Public health. In 1913 there were two hospitals with 21 beds and three paramedical stations; three doctors and three paramedics primarily serviced military units. By 1972 there were 96 hospitals with 7, 600 beds, (10 beds per 1,000 population), 138 outpatient clinics and polyclinics, 67 women’s and children’s consultation offices, and 351 rural paramedical stations. There were 1, 200 doctors (one doctor per 607 population) and about 5, 000 intermediate medical personnel. Malaria has been almost completely eliminated as a result of various antimalarial measures. There are four sanatoriums for patients with active forms of pulmonary tuberculosis. There is also a house of rest on the Aral Sea in the city of Muinak.

Public education and cultural affairs. In the 1914—15 academic year there were four general education schools with 200 pupils in Kara-Kalpakia; before the October Revolution there were no higher educational institutions or special secondary schools. In the 1971–72 academic year more than 200, 000 pupils were enrolled in 729 general education schools. There were about 10, 000 students in 16 special secondary schools and more than 5, 000 students in the Kara-Kalpak State Pedagogical Institute in Nukus. In 1971, 15, 000 children were being educated in preschool institutions. On Jan. 1, 1972, there were 405 public libraries (about 2 million copies of books and journals), 236 clubs, and 279 film projectors. There are two museums—the Museum of History and Local Lore and the Museum of Arts of the Kara-Kalpak SSR in Nukus.

Scientific institutions. There are a number of scientific institutions in the republic, including the Kara-Kalpak Branch of the Academy of Sciences of the Uzbek SSR (founded in 1959), with the N. Davkaraev Institute of History, Language, and Literature and the Combined Institute of Natural Sciences with its Botanical Gardens; the Kara-Kalpak Institute of Agriculture; and branches of Uzbek institutes (skin and venereology, pedagogical science, and rice); and a base of the Uzbek Scientific Research Institute of Stock Raising.

In 1972 more than 600 scientific workers, including ten doctors and more than 230 candidates of sciences, were working inthe scientific research institutions and the pedagogical institute.The corresponding members of the Academy of Sciences of theUzbek SSR M. K. Nurmukhamedov (literature), Ia. M. Dosumov (history), and I. T. Sagitove (literature), among others, work in Kara-Kalpakia.


Press, radio, and television. In 1971, 133 books and pamphlets with circulations totaling 925, 000 copies were published; 16 editions of newspapers (excluding factory papers) with single editions totaling 187, 000 copies were published. The republic newspapers are Sovet Karakalpakstany (Soviet Kara-Kalpakia, since 1924), Zhas leninshi (Young Leninist, since 1931), and Zhetkinshek (Young Generation, since 1932) in the Kara-Kalpak language and Sovetskaia Karakalpakiia (since 1919) in Russian. Four journals with single-edition circulations of 27, 000 copies are published, including Emuderla (Amu Darya, since 1932), a literary and sociopolitical journal in Kara-Kalpak.

The republic’s radio and television broadcast in Kara-Kalpak, Uzbek, Turkmen, and Russian on two radio and television programs; broadcasts from Moscow and Tashkent are relayed. There is a television center in Nukus.

Literature. Since literacy among the Kara-Kalpaks was a privilege of the few before the October Revolution, literary creativity was essentially oral in nature. In terms of genre characteristics, folklore is clearly separated into lyric and epic works. The first category includes numerous types of songs—lyrical songs and songs of ritual and everyday life. Sung incantations (badik) are the oldest type. The epic genres include fairy tales, legends, songs of heroes, and dastany (epics). The most popular was the heroic epic, versions of which approximately date to the 16th century. The epic Forty Maidens is widely known. It reflects, in a fictional reinterpretation, historical events of the 17th and 18th centuries, but it also embodies archaic elements.

The written, prerevolutionary literature of the Kara-Kalpaks used the Arabic alphabet. The 18th-century poet Zhien Zhyrau was well-known. In his verses and in the historical narrative poem The Ruined People, he depicted the life of the Kara-Kalpaks during a period when, pressed by the raids of outside tribes, they were forced to migrate to Zhana Darya. The poets Ku-nodzha (1799–1880), Azhiniiaz (1824–78), Berdakh (1827–1900), and Omar Otesh (1828–1902) also depicted the hard life of the Kara-Kalpaks. In their poetics, these poets followed the traditions of folklore and Oriental classical literature. The plots of the narrative poems Bozatau by Azhiniiaz and Ernazar bii and Aidos bii by Berdakh were based on actual historical events that took place in the 19th century. In its plot, Berdakh’s narrative poem The Petty Tyrant Tsar closely resembled a folk fairy tale, but it was socially topical, addressed to contemporary times.

Democratic points of view were maintained by poets living later, such as Omar (1879–1922), Kulmurat (1838–1927), and Sydyk Shair (1857–1917).

The founders of Soviet literature in Kara-Kalpakia were A. Musaev (1880–1936), S. Mazhitov (1869–1938), A. Dabylov (1898–1970), and S. Nurumbetov (1900–71).

Dramaturgy and prose fiction arose at the end of the 1920’s. Writers reflected characteristic features of the day; they searched for ways of merging folk poetry with the experience of Kara-Kalpak and multinational Soviet poetry. The first prose and dramatic works of Mazhitov appeared, as did the the plays of A. Utepov (1904–34), the short stories and plays of N. Dav-karaev (1905–53) and A. Begimov (1907–58), and the novellas of M. Daribaev (1909^2), A. Shamuratov (1912–53), and Dzh. Aimurzaev (born 1910). The novels The Fisherman’s Daughter (1958) by A. Begimov, On the Banks of the Amu Darya (1958) by Dzh. Aimurzaev, and In the Arms of the Aral (1958)by U. Aizhanov (1919–60) were written in the 1950’s.

During the 1960’s, the body of prose was enlarged by the works of K. Sultanov (born 1924), Kh. Seitov (born 1917), U. Khodzhaniiazov (born 1926), and T. Kaipbergenov (born 1929). Kaipbergenov’s trilogy Daughter of a Kara-Kalpak (books 1–2, 1963–65) depicts the life of a Kara-Kalpak woman against the background of the historical events of the first half of the 20th century. An unfortunate girl traverses a painful path through life. Only in Soviet times does she find happiness and her place in the new society as a citizen enjoying full and equal rights. The author organically links the fate of the heroine with that of the people.

Poets of the republic include Kh. Turumbetov (1926–68), B.Kaipnazarov (born 1916), I. Iusupov (born 1929), and T. Zhumamuratov (born 1915).

Literary criticism has emerged in Kara-Kalpakia during Soviet times. The pioneers in this field are N. Davkaraev, K. Aimbetov (born 1908), and I. Sagitov (born 1908). Other specialists include M. Nurmukhamedov (born 1928), S. Akhmetov (born 1929), and G. Esemuratov (born 1930). A division of the Writers’ Union of the Uzbek SSR, located in Nukus, carries on organizational and creative work among the writers of Kara-Kalpakia.


Architecture and art. The most ancient artistic remains date from the fourth century B.C. (small sculptures and pottery from excavations in Kavat-Kala). Remains of numerous irrigation structures (large dams, reservoirs, and khauzy [ponds]) and of houses and estates (for example, the Orunbai-Kala estate) have survived from the period of Kara-Kalpak settlement in the Zhana Darya River basin (the second half of the 18th century). The native Kara-Kalpak dwelling was the yurt (for the nomads) and the pisé house or clay and reed hut (in northern regions) with an attached yurt (for the settled people). Remains of Hellenistic Khwarazm are located in Kara-Kalpakia: Toprak-Kala, Giaur-Kala, and others. Cities (Nukus, Biruni, and others) and a number of urban-type settlements have arisen during Soviet times. Farmsteads are being replaced by rural settlements and cities with regular layouts, an organized downtown area, and standard construction. Traditional dwellings are also being preserved. Gardens and parks occupy a prominent place in urban and rural construction.

Woodcarving (the doors of yurts) with cloth and ivory inlays, leather stamping, carpet making, weaving, and embroidery have been practiced by the peoples of Kara-Kalpakia since ancient times. Rugs, felts, carpet braids (akkur), and broad fringes (zhanbau), with designs in soft tones of brown, pink, pale green, and yellow on a white background, have been extensively used to insulate and decorate the yurt. Twentieth-century articles are characterized by the combination of red and yellow with brown, green, and dark blue. Kara-Kalpak jewelers combine silver, sometimes gilded, with cornelian, coral, and turquoise to decorate women’s clothing, men’s belts, and harnesses for horses. Strict geometric and floral designs, the main motif of which is the muiiz (ram’s horn), are characteristic of Kara-Kalpak art.

Easel painting, drawing, and small-scale sculpture have been developing since the 1930’s. The sculptors Dzh. Kuttymuratov and D. Tureniiazov; the painters Zh. Bekanov, B. Serekeev, F. Iu. Madgazin, I. V. Savitskii, and A. Kurbanbaev; the graphic artists K. Berdimuratov and K. Nashimov; and the stage designers B. D. Kamenev and K. Saipov, among others, are presently working.


Music. The music of Kara-Kalpakia has an ancient history. Before the October Revolution it was represented by oral folk works. The music culture was maintained and preserved by folk singers (bakhsy), who performed lyrical songs and epics to the accompaniment of the dutar; storytellers (zhyrau), who performed heroic epics to the accompaniment of the kobuz; and instrumentalists (sazende and kissakhany), who composed songs and instrumental pieces. These included Garipniiaz, Eshchbai, Akymbet, Musa, Suieu, Shernazar, Arzy, Zhuman, Eshchan, and Orynbai. The songs of the Kara-Kalpaks vary in genre and theme. Folk songs are basically diatonic; glissando, grace notes, and other embellishments are used extensively in melodies.

The most popular musical instruments are the dutar, a two-stringed plucked instrument; the kobuz and gyrzhak, bowed instruments; the balaman (a reed pipe) and the nai and surnai (flute family), wooden wind instruments; and the dep (tambourine), a percussion instrument. The shynkobuz, made from a small piece of iron, is used by women.

Professional musical culture has been developing in Kara-Kalpakia since the October Revolution. Compositions for symphony orchestra (the symphonic poems Kara-Kalpakia and Kyrk kyz by A. Khalimov, the symphonic poem Buzatau and the symphonic suite Youth by A. Sultanov, Kara-Kalpak Rhapsody by F. Nazarov, the suite on Kara-Kalpak themes Nigarim, Teke Nalysh, and Adynnan by A. F. Kozlovski), choral works (Kara-Kalpakstan by Zh. Shamuratov and M. Nasimov, My Homeland by A. Sultanov, and Peace by A. Khalimov), and music for theatrical productions began appearing in the late 1940’s. Songwriters include Zh. Shamuratov, A. Sultanov, K. Turdykulov, N. Makhamatdinov, K. Abdullaev, and M. Zhiemuratov. Notations of Kara-Kalpak folk songs have been published by A. Khalimov (1959) and V. Shafrannikov (1959).

Great contributions to the development of the national musical culture have been made by People’s Artist of the USSR A. Shamuratova; People’s Artists of the Uzbek SSR G. Shirazieva, R. Seitov, S. Mambetova, and A. Atamuratova; and Honored Artists of the Kara-Kalpak ASSR I. Rafikova and G. Tleumuratov.

The republic’s music institutions include K. S. Stanislavsky Theater of Music and Drama (1930), the Berdakh Philharmonic Society (1946), the folk instruments orchestra (1968), the Kara-Kalpak division of the Composers’ Union of the Uzbek SSR (1967), the music and choreographic school (founded 1960) in Nukus, and six music schools. The music division of the section for art studies of the Kara-Kalpak branch of the Academy of Sciences of the Uzbek SSR (1959) is engaged in collecting and studying Kara-Kalpak folk music.

Theater. Dramatic and theatrical elements were contained in the rituals and games of the Kara-Kalpak people, in folk epics, in the performing art of the folk masters (bakhsy and zhyrau), and in the art of the professional wits (the best known in the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th were Omirbek-lakky, Kampakal-kempir, Daulet-lakky, and Tynym-kyz). The maskarapaz art (art of masquers), borrowed from the Khwarazm Uzbeks, spread from the second half of the 19th century. The formation and development of a professional Kara-Kalpak theater began after the October Revolution and closely proceeded with the cultures of other peoples of the USSR, particularly the Uzbek and Russian cultures. Numerous amateur groups were organized in Petroaleksandrovsk, Kungrad, Khodzheili, Chimbai, Shurakhan, and elsewhere beginning in late 1917. In 1925 the first Kara-Kalpak troupe Tang Nury (Dawn) was established at the Turtkul’ Pedagogical Technicum on the initiative of the educator Z. F. Kasymov. The first works of national dramaturgy appeared in the 1920’s—The Girl Who Finds an Equal by A. Utepov, Saieke batyr by K. Avezov, Erna-zar—The Camels—Eye by S. Mazhitov. In 1928, a new theater group, also known as Tang Nury, arose on the basis of the troupe directed by Z. F. Kasymov. It was organized by the playwright A. Utepov, one of the founders of Kara-Kalpak theater and dramaturgy and author of many plays (he was also an actor and director and managed theater troupes in various parts of Kara-Kalpakia). On the basis of this group, the Kara-Kalpak Theater of Music and Drama was created in TurtkuP in 1930 (it was transferred to Nukus in 1942); in 1939 the name of K. S. Stanislavsky was conferred upon it. In 1939, the theater troupe was strengthened by the graduates of the Kara-Kalpak studio of the State Institute of Theatrical Arts, students of O. I. Pyzhova and B. V. Bibikov. Studio plays entered the repertoire, including A. N. Ostrovskii’s Poverty Is No Crime, Molière’s Les Fourberies deScapin, and V. V. Vishnevskii’s The First Cavalry Army. Productions of the 1940’s-50’s included Alpamys by N. Davkaraev; Maisara s Prank by Kh. Khamza; Love Can Neither Be Bought nor Sold by S. Khodzhaniiazov; Garib-Ashik by A. Begimov and T. Allanazarov; Ailgul’ and Abat, Lieutenant Elmuratov, and Raushan by Dzh. Aimurzaev; Russian People by K. M. Simonov; Stolen Happiness by I. Ia. Franko; and Tartuffe by Molière. The character of V. I. Lenin first appeared on the stage of the Kara-Kalpak Theater in 1967 in I. F. Popov’s Family. Other productions of the 1960’s and early 1970’s included The Source of Life by Dzh. Aimurzaev, Daughter of Kara-Kalpakia by G. Abdulov and T. Baiandiev, Taluas by S. Khodzhaniiazov, Lodestar by K. Iashen, and Othello by Shakespeare. Working in the republic (1972) are People’s Artist of the USSR A. Shamuratova; People’s Artists of the Uzbek SSR and the Kara-Kalpak ASSR lu. Mamutov, S. Avezova, O. Dav-letova, Z. Zaripov, R. Seitov, and G. Sherazieva; People’s Artists of the Kara-Kalpak ASSR R. Adikova, S. Allamuratova, T. Akhmetova, Kh. Saparov, O. Umitkulov, S. Utepbergenov, and Sh. Utemuratov; Honored Art Worker of the Kara-Kalpak ASSR K. Saipov; and Honored Artists of the Kara-Kalpak ASSR N. Ansatbaeva, D. Ranov, and S. Paluanov.



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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.