A study of Kazakh life, its history, ethnography and oral folk art had been dedicated to many works of researchers of the past. For the searching process, many of them even went to the most remote villages inhabited by nomadic peoples, where they found storytelling poets, collectors of folk art, and recorded the legends and traditions of our people from the first mouths.
For example, a legend about Jidybai had been recorded by Sultan-Gazin, who lived along the river Tokrau.
According to the legend, Jidybai was one of the closest brave persons and batyrs of Abylai Khan. In one of Abylai's campaigns, he and his entire army had to cross the Balkhash lake. Jidybai knew the only ford across this lake. He knew that a ridge runs across the lake, along its bottom, and if you walk along its ridge, you can pass through the lake, and the water will only reach the knee in these places. At night, the army crossed the Balkhash, it was cloudy and rainy. In the middle of the lake, Jidybai stopped, rested the blunt end of the pike on the bottom of the lake and asked the horseman to run his hand along the pike and felt the bottom of the lake, if there was anything under the pike. He recalled that 20-30 years ago when he lost a small knife while passing through here. A horseman ran his hand along the peak to the bottom of the lake and found a knife in reality.
Jidybai was always preceded by a red fox. This was his aruah (in Arabic, it means “Godfather”). Noticing this, Abylai told him the following words: “Show me your aruah!”. Jidybai agreed and called Abylai to the top of the mountain. He left Abylai on the top, and went down the mountain. When he went down to the sole, Abylai saw that a red fox appeared in the steppe. At the same time, a yellow golden eagle appeared, immediately rushed to the fox, grabbed it and hit it on the ground. After that, Jidybai climbed to the mountain to Abylai again and asked him what he had seen. He told, and Jidybai answered: “A red fox is my aruakh, and the yellow golden eagle is yours. What you have seen shows that your aruakh is superior to mine”.
Mahmud Valikhanov was close to his brother Chokan Valikhanov, from whom he acquired an interest in studying the works of Russian and Western European classics. He also recorded the legend of Abylai khan (Sabalak), that was later included in the collection of Kazakh legends and traditions by Grigory Potanin.
So, the legend says that Abylai was one of the three princes, but after the death of his father he did not get an inheritance. He left the Kazakh steppe, hidden his name and called himself as Sabalak. One rich Cossack Daulet adopted him and made him as the shepherd in a new place. When the war with the Chinese (Churchut) and Kalmyks began, Sabalak was about to attend the war, but Daulet did not let him go there. He explained this by the fact that his adopted son was still a beardless youth. However, despite the persuasion of Daulet, Sabalak managed to go to the war in the end.
During the campaign, an army arrived to the Ili (Ile) river, but it was impossible to cross it, since the ice had not appeared yet. Sabalak sat down on the bank, covered his head and started to read a prayer. With each new prayer, the river was covered with a thick layer of ice. Finally, an army managed to cross the Ili river, crushed in the battle against the Kalmyks and Churchuts and returned to the river with the booty. When they began to arrive to the Ili, a pursuit started to chase for them. Then Shakshak Zhanibek batyr told to Sabalak: “You knew how to freeze the Ili river. Now, you should create a new miracle and save it from the chase. Sabalak sat on the shore and began to read a prayer. Thus, he caused a fog, due to which the Kazakhs managed to stay as the unnoticed people and escape immediately. Since the Kazakh khan was killed during the war, Abylai (Sabalak) was proclaimed as khan.
According to the certain words of Beisembi, a collection of Kazakh legends and traditions was replenished with several legends dedicated to the life of Jirenshe sheshen. The first of them once said that Az-Zhanibek sent an ambassador to the clans of Uysun and Konyrat with a request to destroy the camels, because the mares miscarry the foals from their scream. Then these two peoples were confused: they did not know what to do. At this moment, when Jirenshe sheshen was a very small boy, he was appearing there. Then, he told the nations: “I will go to the Khan. Give me a big camel, a ten-year-old big goat with a big beard, and a big gun”. Having received everything he asked for, Jirenshe sheshen went to Az-Zhanibek Khan. Arriving at the people of Zhanibek khan, Jirenshe did not notice the camels, but saw a lot of barking dogs. Jirenshe started shooting at the dogs. It was reported to Zhanibek that one man was exterminating the dogs. Zhanibek requested to bring this man.
— Who are you? – Zhanibek asked.
— “I am from the clan of Uysun-Konyrat”, – Jirenshe sheshen answered.
— Why did you come? – Zhanibek asked.
— I have come to you as an ambassador from my clan.
— Why are you shooting my dogs?
— I shoot because barking of your dogs causes our camels to throw out their cubs.
— How can your camels hear the barking of the local dogs so far away?
— Oh, lord, how can the voices of our camels be heard by your people?
— Child! Wasn't there someone higher up in your family who could send an envoy to a foreign khan?
— Above this camel, that I brought, we have no one.
— Don't you have any venerable old man?
— The goat I brought with me has a beard longer than all the beards.
— Will you be my vizier?
— I will, – Jirenshe sheshen answered.
Zhanibek gave him a horse and dressed him with a good dress.
Another legend tells how once Az-Zhanibek sent Jirenshe sheshen to inspect an area where one could sit in an aul. On the way, an elderly man on an old horse joined Jirenshe sheshen. On the way, Jirenshe said: “Come on, let’s make a wooden cauldron boil!” When we drove a little more, Jirenshe sheshen said: “Come on, let's replace thin horses with fat ones!”. To this case, a venerable old man who rode beside him replied: “What a fool you are! Do we have any fat horses? They came to the river. A comrade sent Jirenshe sheshen to find out where the ford was, along which it would be better to cross the river. Jirenshe went, returned and said: “I saw two fords: one is far, but close, the other is close, but far away”. Then, an old man replied: “What a fool you are! You speak so far, but close, closer, but far away. Show me a close ford!”. Jirenshe showed him a close ford, and he went to the distant place by himself. Then, Jirenshe crossed the river very soon, and at the close ford there was a swamp in which a venerable old man got stuck and managed to get ashore only with great effort. As soon as the old man got out of the mud, they rode together again. On the way, seeing a large herd, Jirenshe said: “This is the cattle of a rich man who has many children”. Going a little further on, seeing another herd, Jirenshe said: “This rich man has no children”. Having traveled even further, Jirenshe saw a large white yurt, that belonged to the old companion of Jirenshe sheshen. This man had one daughter who always came out of the yurt when her father came to hold the horse while her father was dismounting there. Jirenshe did not stop here, he went on. A daughter asked her father who his companion was. The father said to his daughter:
— This is a silly person, my little bearer of light (shyragym)!
— What did he say like a silly person? – she asked.
— When we left Zhanibek, he said: let's boil a wooden cauldron. Is it possible to boil in a wooden cauldron? Then he said: let's leave the thin horses, sit on the fat ones, but there are no fat horses. Then, he also said that there are two fords: one is far, but close, the other one is still close, but far. Isn't this nonsense?
— He is a smart man, and you are a silly father! Boiling a wooden cauldron meant smoking a pipe. Let's leave the thin horses, sit on the fat ones, that meant: Let`s feed the horses! A ford is close, but far away means: it is close, but still thin and swampy. Far, but close means that it is further to it, but it is more convenient to cross the river along. Then, the young woman added: — A rich man of one herd has many children – he learned this because all the horses in the herd were thin and hackneyed. Expressing his views about your herd, he said that the owner has no children, because all the horses that he saw are fat. This is a smart person. He needs to be called into the house and treated too.
— Go and invite yourself, – her father told her.
A young woman called Jirenshe sheshen and brought him to her house, where he was treated. While he was eating, Jirenshe looked at the young woman and stroked his mustache on one side. The young woman stroked one of her braids. Jirenshe stroked his entire beard, to which the girl stroked all her hair.
A roost (tosek) was prepared for Jirenshe sheshen. Dom went to the bed, but when a rich man fell asleep, Jirenshe lay down to the girl with the words:
— I stroked my mustache. This means, that I am asking your father if he will give you to me if I give him as many cattles as there are hairs in my mustache.
— “I stroked one braid; it means that my father will not give me up even for as many cattles as there are hairs in my braid”, – the girl replied.
— I stroked my beard, so I wanted to ask if your father would give you for as many cattle as there are hairs in my beard.
— He won’t even give it back for as much as there are hairs in my head.
— “How can I take you?”, – Jirenshe sheshen asked.
— Do you have cattle?
— There is only one gray bull.
— You should kill this bull. Bring a beef to our yurt and hide it in different places of the yurt. Then, you must go to the khan, request to call the policeman, and say that you have lost a gray bull and ask to search all the people, and after all let them search our yurt. My father is actually a coward. Perhaps, being out of fear, he will pass me off as you.
Jirenshe sheshen did the same thing, took the policeman, searched all the people. In conclusion, they came to the yurt of a rich man and found the beef. They took the rich man out to the khan. Then, the frightened rich man said:
— I will give all my cattles, just let me go!
— “I won't let you go”, – Jirenshe sheshen answered.
A rich man promised to give all his property, but Jirenshe sheshen did not let go.
— “What will you take?”, – the rich man asked.
— Give me your daughter! – Jirenshe sheshen said.
Then a rich man had to give the girl away, and Jirenshe let the old man go, took the girl, went to the khan, and said to him:
— I found my thief and made peace with him; took a girl from him for the peace.
— “It’s good that you made peace”, – the khan said, and take a young woman for yourself. It is not necessary for me.
A name of young woman was Karashash (“Black hair”). Jirenshe sheshen married her.
They sat together in one thin yurt. Khan fell in love with Karashash and thought about how to take her away from Jirenshe. The khan gave Jirenshe sheshen forty male rams and told them to bring the lambs in six months. “Otherwise”, – said the khan, “I will cut off your head”. Jirenshe sheshen came to his wife, who replied: “I will find a remedy, if God gives”. Jirenshe brought the forty rams, they slaughtered them all. Khan joined them six months later. Seeing the approach of the khan, Jirenshe notified his wife, and she replied: “You should sit and cover yourself with a dress”. Upon the arrival, the khan asked Karashash if Jirenshe was at home. Karashash went out to meet the khan and pointed him to the house. “Why doesn't it come out?” – the khan asked. Then, Karashash answered: “Jirenshe has just given birth to a child, she is sick, and cannot walk”. Can a man have children? Khan was surprised. “Oh, Great Lord! Can male rams bring lambs?” The Khan said, “May God cut your tongue out!” – and left.
The next time, the khan called Jirenshe sheshen again, gave him a three-year-old bull and ordered him to be boiled alive. Jirenshe brought the bull home and asked his wife how to achieve this. Then, the wife said, “That's easy”. She requested to bring five pounds of salt, that Jirenshe did. They put a pound of salt in the cauldron with poured water. Karashash requested the bull to be driven for the exhaustion. Soon the bull was tired and he scattered his droppings from the fatigue. They gave the bull a drink of salt solution and tied him up. On the morning of the next day, she requested the bull to be driven again. They gave the bull a whole cauldron of water, in which a pood of salt was dissolved again. Within five days, they dissolved five pounds of salt and gave it to the bull to drink. On the sixth day, she requested the bull to be driven again. Therefore, the bull stopped giving a litter. On the seventh day, the khan asked: “Have you boiled the bull?”, “Welded” – they answered to him. So, the khan requested to slaughter the bull. When the bull was slaughtered, when its insides were opened, they found only a stone, not even blood. They examined the bones, only in one shinbone (brain, hollow bone) they found a little blood from that. Thus, the khan could not take Karashash and returned to his house with nothing.
The third more anecdotal tale tells about Zhanibek's mother. She was a 100-year-old woman out of her mind. She constantly cried and asked: “Find a husband for me!”. Zhanibek asked Jirenshe sheshen: “Calm her down for a week. Instead of making her laugh, just make her cry”. Jirenshe brought her to his house. Like a small child, he took her in his arms and began to rock, but she did not become calmer, she continued to cry. So three days passed without any success. But the next day Jirenshe found a remedy, and an old woman stopped crying and began to smile. He used this remedy every day, and the old woman was calm for the next four days. On the eighth day, Az-Zhanibek arrived, saw that his mother was not crying, and just asked: “Please, tell me, how did you manage to calm my mother’s tears?”
— “Oh, Lord! I have become your father!” – Jirenshe answered.
The following story about the fictional folklore character of Kazakh fairy tales Aldar kose was told by Kokush Chingisovich Valikhanov. So, when Aldar kose was young, he went out to deceive people. He found a scapular bone (in Kazakh, it means “Zhauyryn”) on the road, put it in his bosom and came to the yurt of an old woman. “I will be your guest”, – he said this to the old woman. Then, she answered: “No, little bearer of light (shyragym)! I can’t treat you, I don’t have anything to say”. Aldar kose told her: “I don’t need anything. I have a meat”. When an old woman lowered her meat into a cauldron that was on fire, Aldar kose asked her permission to put his meat in the same cauldron, and threw the bone found in the steppe into the cauldron. When the cauldron began to boil, Aldar kose asked the old woman: “Will your meat eat my beef?”, “How can beef eat the meat?” – objected the old woman. “It is a big meat”, – Aldar kose said, “You need to eat a smaller meat”. When a beef was cooked, the old woman began to take it out and found a shoulder bone without meat. Aldar kose was left without meat and began to say that his beef had been eaten there. He had argued with the old woman for a long time, and she finally gave him the breast bone with meat. He ate the meat, put the bone in his sack and left quickly.
Then, he came to the yurt of another old woman. She also refused to accept him as a guest. He told her that he had his own meat. When the old woman began to boil the meat, he put into the cauldron the brisket, that he had brought in his bosom. When the old woman's meat was cooked, they argued again. The dispute ended with the old woman giving him a whole leg of a ram. Aldar kose moved to the third yurt. Here, the same story repeated itself. In order to get rid of Aldar-Kose, the old woman gave him a live ram.
With this ram, Aldar Kose came to rich man. With the permission of the rich man, he let his ram into his herd. At night, when they began to go to the bed, Aldar kose said to the rich man: “Won't your rams eat someone else's?”, “You're crazy, right?” – said the rich man”, “Do rams eat rams? It happens” – Aldar kose said. At night, Aldar kose came out of the yurt, slaughtered his ram and smeared the lips of all the rams of rich man with its blood. In the morning Aldar kose started a dispute with the rich man. Aldar kose said to the rich man: “Your rams ate my ram, that was important to me. It was a scientist and the substitution for the horse”. In order to retreat, the rich man gave to Aldar kose eight rams. Aldar kose drove the sheep and on the way, he saw the people digging a grave. Aldar kose asked what happened. People said that an adult girl has died and that she will be buried. “Sell this dead young woman with clothes, and take these rams in return for her”, – Aldar kose said. The people gave him the girl, and her clothes along with her. Aldar kose just put this girl on his back and walked away.
Aldar kose arrived in one village. He left the girl outside, leaned her body against a stake stuck in the ground, covered it with a scarf on top, and went up to the yurt, looked inside it and saw that two girls and one young woman were sitting there. He asked the permission to stay overnight with them. They agreed. Then, he told them that he was not alone, that he had a wife who was waiting near the village and asked them to bring his wife. Both girls and a young woman rushed out of the yurt for his wife Aldar kose with curiosity. Running up, she was silent. When one girl took her by the shoulder, she fell as if dead. Then these women ran to Aldar kose and said that his wife died as soon as they touched her. Aldar kose let's cry: “Oh-bye! You killed my wife! Where can I find another one like this? How much work does it cost me to master it?” Then, the dispute began. He requested for the kun (a substitute for the blood feud). He married to one of the young girls, they gave him a yurt and some property for this girl and he returned home. When he came home, he counted what he had done: from a shoulder blade he made a breast meat, from the breast bone he made a live ram, from one ram he made eight rams, from the eight rams he found a bride with yurts and property. He was very pleased with himself.