The mausoleum of the two most celebrated Kazakh lovers – Kozy Korpesh and Bayan Sulu at the river Ayaguz – is the vivid example of our “typical” cult monument.
The shelter for the eternal love
It may seem to an ignorant person that Kazakhstan is extremely poor in cult monuments. It is the immense territory that is to blame, on which the legacy of the past time is randomly arranged. However, all these bookmarks of history in Kazakhstani boundless expanses are taken particularly edgy, pathetically and poignantly.
A story of the global Magnetism…
The legend of Kozy Korpesh and Bayan Sulu is a pinnacle of the steppe poetry. At its heart there is a theme of this perfect love that sanctifies the whole mankind so much in its own eyes and that probably no one have ever experienced in real life.
I have to emphasize that the legend itself is not endemic for Kazakh steppes. Such names as Kozy Korpesh and Bayan Sulu are known for 1500 years already, and their story is common with the huge part of Eurasia – from Bashkiria to Yakutia. But it’s just Kazakhs with their peculiar status of women and their burning sense of the poetical word who brought this poem to its most perfect form. To be more precise – forms. There are many versions of the legend, which are written down in various genres of poetry.
I don’t know which is how, but for me the closest and nicest character of the legend is the lead one. Whatever you may say, but Bayan is the most vivid and charismatic character of this poem. And all the rest, including even this strong and ardent, but not very smart Kozy Korpesh are regarded against her secondary and too schematic.
The secret mystery: Pyramid, suburgan, or spacecraft?
But today we are getting acquainted not with the poem, but with its architectural embodiment at the bank of the river Ayaguz. And it’s also like a song for explorers and those who call themselves thus! The matter is that there is nothing of the kind in these steppes, nothing similar to this strange mausoleum. There are two elements in the architecture of this mazar that amaze sophisticated people: its unusual shape and unusual material – the elongated 12-metres pyramid is built from the slabstone.
Nothing is known about people who inspired and built this monument, neither of its age (they mention the period between around the 5th and 17th century), that is why there are so many suggestions, theories and wild guesses around it. Really, if you are obsessed with the vulgar Egyptology, you can easily see its links with Egyptian pyramids, for instance. And for a hard-headed flying saucers worshipper it is easy to spot a silhouette of a spacecraft in its shape.
Not coincidentally, materials dedicated to the exploring of this strange monument nowadays are mainly poetical and emotional essays. But there are more scientific works, too: e.g., the document of the Kalmyk Institute of History, where the hypothesis of the mausoleum being the Buddhist suburgan is given grounds. According to it, the monument was constructed as a tribute to the local toparch Baybagas khan who died in 1640. And the legend that linked it with the famous lovers emerged later, after Oirats disappeared and Kazakhs returned.
Losses: cannonballs, stelae, renovators
Shokan Valikhanov visited this celebrated monument in 1858 and spotted four stelae nearby. And so he made the sketch of them. Where these statues – in which many recognized the images of the lead characters in the poem - vanished afterwards, nobody knows. As for Semyonov, who had visited the place a year before Shokan (and he wasn’t Tyan-Shanskiy yet) noted bitterly that the mausoleum had suffered from vandals: “In the morning of May, 1st, it was already hot in the steppe. Halfway to Malo-Ayaguzskiy station I saw Kozy Korpech’s tomb, famous all over the Kirghiz steppes by folk legends. Its top, unfortunately, was shot off by a cannonball. Who needed to do such an act of vandalism, I had no chance to find out.”
Alas, it was not the first and not the last case of vandalizing the monument. That is why it’s so hard today to imagine the way the mausoleum looked initially, and to grasp its original meaning as well. Many serious explorers, seeing an original monument, pointed out at its distinctive relation to the paganism, the belief of the past Tengri period. But recently this monument of the pre-Islamic times has become more and more looking like a typical mazar, the essential meaning of which is the worship of somebody’s holiness. Nowadays it amazes with its asceticism and… newness. It’s obvious that renovators worked hard here. And when they “renovate” without any understanding of the initial essence of the monument (I repeat, no one knows it) – the result is a typical modern replica.
The only thing left that goes on touching and exciting us is two sober snow-white tombstones inside the mazar. Even if there are no celebrated lovers lying under them in reality – who cares? If you want to worship something, you should believe in it. And in order to believe you mustn’t know for sure at all.
How to get there
The precise geographical position of the monument is 46,7° north latitude – 78,8 ° eastern longitude. As a matter of fact, if you look at the map, it’s not hard at all to get to the mazar. Very close to it there is a railway Almaty-Semipalatinsk – a legendary Turksib. The major regional center Ayaguz is not far from there. But it’s according to the map. Actually, from the regional center to the village Tansyk, near which the monument is located, is about hundred kilometers of the poor road to go. And at the Tansyk station, from where it is about ten miles to the village, not every train would stop. But it had been far easier to get to the mazar of lovers before the Turksib was built. Because the postal road that connected Semipalatinsk with Kopal and Vernyi passed in those years just here, near the mausoleum. Owing to this, Valikhanov managed to visit it in his time, and Semyonov too, and a whole throng of classical explorers of Kazakhstan.