Repatriates Assembly

A classic of Kazakh poetry Mukagali Makatayev is 90 years old

A true poet whose name became the legendary

This year marks the 90th anniversary of the great Kazakh poet Mukagali Makatayev. His name is known to all Kazakhs today. He is an outstanding figure, who has been working in the field of literature for about twenty-five years, and has written more than a thousand poems. His creative art was manifested in so many ways. Nowadays, there are many public figures who have investigated his talent. Due to that, we have decided to interview a famous painter, professor, candidate of Pedagogical Sciences, Member of the Board of “Mukagali” journal – Tokkozha Kozhagul.

– How did you get acquainted with Mukagali`s work in general? What works and poems did you like to read?

– I still remember the summer of 1976. We are the darkest children in the village. We have just finished the seventh grade. Because, there was little information about Mukagali Makatayev in the country at that time. Our small village did not have enough books for the poet in the mountains like Karatogan. There was no such thing as “Mukagali readings” and no other events.

We help students with household chores during summer vacations. My villager Zhanabay and I were assigned to irrigate the fields. It must be properly organized and the water must be carefully absorbed into the ground. If there are gaps, it is a real scandal. It rained for about seven days, and a small part of the field was not irrigated too. As for the shovel, it was soaked with water that it was not irrigated, then 3-4 days later, the foreman came and said: - Oh, guys! Why didn't you water the bottom of the previous field? We are justified in saying that we watered. Ai, you don't know that our Kazakh ancestor, “Seven days of rain is better than other rain”, which means “Go and water again”, had been a life lesson for us. When you start a job, you finish it, you take full responsibility. A foreman, Nurasil Koishiyev, turned out to be a street man. He is so close to art. He loves to sing as well!

Nurasil Koishiyev sang the song “Sarzhailau” during the lunch break and named its authors. The lyrics are by Mukagali Makatayev, the song is by Nurgisa Tlendiyev. We asked him to do it again, so we joined as well. But I got acquainted with his poems. Then I started looking for the books of the poet.

I noticed that the poems of our uncle Mukagali inevitably can attract people. It makes your heart tremble. This is probably the true folk poetry.


– As many people know, you have created a colorful portrait of the poet. How did you come to this job? Can you tell us about the first moments of the work?

– When I was a student, I chose the genre of portraiture. This is a very difficult genre. The ordinary people may not be satisfied with its facets and secrets, they may think that it is a simple world. However, it reveals its secrets to those who pay attention to the taste and knowledge

I mentioned above that I have been interested in Mukagali's poems especially since the seventh grade. This interest has not diminished at all.

The poet's poems are a chronicle of an entire epoch. In these works, you can see the faces of our fathers and mothers who lived in those times. You are interested in pure souls. They are both happy and sad. You enjoy reading the fiery songs played by such characters. On the other hand, all the actions here seem to be as the own actions of the poet. He skillfully combined his biography with the biography of the epoch.

After becoming a student of the Kazakh Pedagogical Institute named after Abai, the Faculty of Fine Arts and Graphics, the search, that began in the village, turned to a new channel now. A scope of knowledge has expanded at that time. Because, the place where Mukan lived is Almaty. He was accompanied by colleagues, brothers and sisters. I had an opportunity to listen to their stories.

An idea to make a portrait of Mukagali has never crossed my mind. For the first time, I put a picture of the poet on the board in the shape of an oval, covering it with flowers and wrote:” If the people do not forget themselves, be careful, your people will not forget you as well”. Because this is just the beginning of creativity. Exciting and the happiest moments are ahead. I have just started to get to know Mukagali correctly. I considered it a trophy and thanked him. Then I painted a portrait with an oil point. And in 1988, I wrote a portrait of a well-known poet. The reason for writing this picture was the image of the poet from the world of dreams. I will repeat the same story as a risk. I think color vision is normal. But sometimes it is different. White or vision color. While preparing to make a portrait of the poet, I fell asleep and exhausted there.

Oh, the power of God! Uncle Mukagali came to me in a dream. In my dream, I met him in his house on the Kirov collective farm near Karasaz, where he was born. I said to him, “Brother, do you see I drew your picture?” I said, “Okay, you take him to Karasaz, and I will come around”. And he said, Rest in peace, my soul

Happy birthday to you, - he repeats these two verses, staring at the table in front of him. We are like the ordinary acquaintances, although we have never met. The whole face of the poet is visible. An artist pays attention to what he encounters. I did the same. I saw a special look on his face. His wide forehead and dark hair on his neck are so striking. He was thoughtful and sharp.

When I wake up, I feel happy. I'm tired. There was a new enthusiasm for work. I immediately hurried to the workshop. I started to paint on the surface of the canvas, that has not been traced yet. This image of him remained in my memory. As soon as I saw the video, I quickly drew his picture.

Then I gave the portrait to the museum on the 60th anniversary of the poet. Then I understood his words in a dream: “Take me to Karasaz”. I thought that the dream of that day was the mercy of the poet's brother.


– In one of his ballads, Mukagali said that history is the essence of painting. What do you think the poet wanted to convey through this ballad?

– We all know that there is one word that describes the core of all art. It is a general concept of “Poetry”. Those who have poetry clearly see the colors of the world. These paints are sometimes woven into white paper. Sometimes it turns into great music. It is also depicted as a sculpture. Painted on the artist's canvas with a brush. This is the peculiarity of the concept of “Poetry”. All human art has a common source. The shape and properties are similar. Only the methods of execution are different.

The new phrases you mentioned are in the poet's ballad “Gray Towel”. I was amazed when I read that work. You even think that Mukan is an artist. If you don't believe, let's take another look at the lyrics.

The history of painting,

Let's get acquainted not only with the eyes, but also with the mind.

Painting is not a poem of a poet,

In the secret, in the tongue, there is an expression of the mind!

They do not pretend to see me, they know me,

The more he sees, the deeper he keeps his secret …

In fact, painting is not a mixture of colors. It is an “Expression of the mind”. Mukan summed up the requirements for the artist in one word. This means that he also had a deep knowledge of art.

Similarly, Mukagali has a lot of composing skills. It is recognized by the music experts. After all, neither Mozart nor Beethoven can be fully understood. So why did he write a black poem? He chose to be a writer, to bring all the sources of talent to his people.

A black Kazakh song worn by many people,

I will close it and return it to him …

Another thing I noticed in the new verses is that “Let's get acquainted not only with the eyes, but also with the heart”. Such an equation cannot be said by a person who easily measures art. The amateur side of the poet explains this.


– You have created your own portrait, dedicated to him. How did this portrait rate you? What are your views and opinions on this work as an artist?

– Zeynolla Kabdolov has a novel-essay "My Auezov". Like that man, I called the portrait I made “My Cover”. The photos show the poet's life. And in the portrait I made, all the strokes are combined in one image. This has not been easy.

Should we divide human nature into two? The first is his human nature, which is similar to all of us. There are some exaggerations and shortcomings. The second is the creative moments of creative inspiration. It is a time of thinking about the country and the land, life as a figure. These are the qualities that generations need.

You don't have to be stubborn to tell the story of humanity. If you are strong, weigh the poet's work. It takes energy to enlighten the mind to move society forward. When such a voice is heard from the mouth of the wall, the country wakes up with a sigh. That's why, our ancestors said that “It's hard to start a conversation”. Mukagali conveyed such words to the hearts. He did not fall asleep and did not have a dry mind. “Maybe it's easy to write a poem for someone, how difficult was it to be a poet ?!” There is a great meaning in the phrases.

Mukagali's voice revived the vast steppe. In addition, the priest always called the Kazakh poet to be patient. It predicted the future. Protected beauty. It moved your soul and raised your reputation. In order to put it another way, the equations are not exhaustive. We can clearly see in his poems that he had the qualities of an activist.

Here's how to draw such qualities with a brush. I was not bothered by the thought of finding an answer to the question. Summing up my thoughts, I turned to the words of the poet.

My address is Earth,

I am a poet on the earth.

Paper, pen, give me a little time,

I have come to sing of life - or at the same time:

… Some say it's our house,

Some say a mountain red fox.

Taken with me forever,

Who will understand my tender soul?

You see, the poet accurately expresses his purpose and mission in this poem, but also conveys the cry of the inner world. Undoubtedly, he felt a great responsibility that God had placed on him. He knew that “Art requires sacrifice”. I tried to show all these feelings in the portrait.

My first critic was the poet's wife Lashin. “First of all, I saw the poet Mukagali in your portrait”, he said. I am glad that my work is burning. Because it seems that my victory over Lashin was right. The well-known artists Sakhi Romanov, Sabyr Mambeev, Salahaddin Aitbayev also shared this opinion. As a result, I became a laureate of the State Prize of the Republic of Kazakhstan for young people “Daryn” for the collection of portraits I wrote.


– At present, the concept of “Mukagalitanushy” is well known in the country. In general, how do you understand this concept? Does it have its own peculiarities?

– Let's look at this. For a century and a half, not all researchers of Abai's heritage were included in the list of Abai scholars. Nobody was offended by him. In the history of literature, only a few people are mentioned as Abai scholars. They have been given a status such as, the scientific community, the visionary people, the filter and discussion of time.

It is not easy to solve Abai's riddle and show his novelty. It is possible to learn the great teachings about it first, and only then approach the door of the treasure, that is a precious heritage. And any teacher can interpret Abai's poem in accordance with the class program. These reviews are not to be taken lightly. Not to mention the extent to which the study of the cover. It would be a shame to register such name and use it to gain a cheap reputation!

Every day you see a huge monument of Abai in Almaty. It contains not only the image of the poet, but also his thinking, diligence, authority. At one time, Mukhtar Auezov was pleased with this work himself. However, Khakimzhan Nauryzbayev, a People's Artist and laureate of the State Prize, who painted the sculpture, never considered himself as an Abai scholar. I also have no right to be a cover expert. In fact, nothing is spoiled.


– In general, how are the investigation works of the poet conducted today?

– Composers created beautiful, mysterious, melodic melodies from the poems of the legendary saint-poet, while his contemporaries and brothers wrote memoirs about Mukan, and the next generation began to study his poetry scientifically. Thus, the legendary poet became the hero of some works, books and TV movies. The beginning of Mukagalitanu studies, the poetry contest among students, Mukagali readings among students begin every year on the occasion of the poet's birthday and continue until the end of the year. This is very desirable. After all, Mukagali's poetry is an indispensable tool to preserve our national identity, to understand the power of Kazakh black poetry, to raise the national spirit in the process of globalization, when the nation loses its language, mentality and religion.

As for the fine arts, the creation of the image of Mukagali was inspired by the works of artists along with other artists. An artist is a person who is immersed in nature, who encounters a phenomenon that other people are not affected by, and who is immersed in the whole being, who can see art and beauty in anything. It was the masters of fine arts who began to decorate the books of the late poet. The first representative of this group was Adil Rakhmanov, who designed the book of the poet's life. It is from this time that the masters of fine arts began to use the theme of Mukagali as a fabric for their works and creativity. The longing in Mukagali's poems was a dream, a pure feeling of nostalgia, anxiety, heroism, love for the country and the land, beautiful scenes and images were indispensable materials for the work of artists and sculptors who studied life in color.

However, we know the life of Mukagali Makatayev, his poetic side is still mysterious and deep, and artists should not miss this issue in the creation of the image of the poet. Of course, I am glad that the community of artists paid attention to the theme of Mukagali. This means that the legacy of the poet was created by the community of artists. Not everyone is able to create the spiritual wealth that the whole nation needs. That victory was given to him forehead. It's all due to his talent and hard work.

He would not have risen to such heights if he had been deceived by the gloves of his natural talent and everyday gloves. He set an example of how to respect an art. Each line of his songs is full of deep philosophy. You will be amazed at how he mastered the world knowledge and how he managed to learn it. Mukan is definitely a teacher of the nation.

Among those who sought to understand the poet at this level, I would take the example of my colleagues, such as Temirkhan Ordabekov and Zhumakan Kairanbayev. Temirkhan is a great master of graphics. Plays the character using black lines. He used his works on the covers of the poet's book. The pictures are perfectly combined with the inner power of the song. And Zhumakan wrote his work with oil paint. His works have appeared in many exhibitions. In 50 volumes he published a book of poems from “Kazinform”. Added a new content to the existing content. His other pictures on the subject are also noteworthy. I visited the exhibition of my Pavlodar colleague Maira Ykylasova. Many people liked it. Almas Syrgabayev from Naryn also stood out with his own style. The photos of Nurbolat Iskakov, a teacher of the village school, attracted the attention of the audience.

I talked to a number of these people. Although we had different views, we agreed on one point. We exchanged experiences. As Mukan said, “A poet must be awakened by the poet”. Look, the light has taken into account all the details of the writer and the artist!

– Nowadays, the magazine “Mukagali” has become the main tool for exploring the life and work of the verse writer. What do you think about “Mukagali” magazine?

– The magazine "Mukagali", which has been published for 15 years, has fully proved its power and strength. For example, at the presentation of the encyclopedia, the speakers thanked the magazine for its contribution to the common cause.

Open the magazine and you will clearly see that it is hardened and perfected. The publication named after the poet pays a lot of attention to the works of artists who played Mukagali. Now the magazine is at the forefront of literary publications in Kazakhstan. In 2007, the magazine was awarded the “Letter of Thanks” of the President and others. Expectations and hopes were justified. As a member of the board, I would like to say that the content of the forthcoming issues is even deeper, so the magazine has become a blessing for the country.

– You have participated in the creation process of “Mukagali” encyclopedia. What can you say about the encyclopedia? If you had an opportunity to recreate it, what issues would you raise there?

– The creators of the encyclopedia asked me to help with the pictures on the inside pages of the book. I did it with pleasure. The group of encyclopedia creators consists of writers and journalists. All are qualified citizens. Kazinform successfully coordinated everything. Many of the writers have gained experience working in the editorial office of the National Encyclopedia. Thus, a large book that meets its own standards was published as well.

However, in less than a year, a rapid publication of the encyclopedia “Mukagali” has pleased us and made us think. I think that the exact assessment will be given by expert critics in the future. We have not had these opportunities before. We reached it today and moved too fast. In fact, as our grandfather Abai said, no one loses by “Walking slowly and clearly”. I would like such requirements to be the focus of the second edition of the encyclopedia.

– As you know, this year marks the 90th anniversary of the poet. In this regard, what kind of events should be held in the country?

– In honor of the poet's birthday, “Khantaniri National Theater” in Almaty staged a performance of the poet, called “Swans asleep” at the State Academic Theater for the Children and Youth named after G.Musrepov on January 31, 2021. By my organization

“... We are still undead,

We are an unwritten saga” in the foyer of the theater. A cultural figure of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Professor of KazNPU named after Abai Temirkhan Ordabekov, Honored Worker of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Professor Zhumakyn Kairambayev, Director of the Institute of Arts, Culture and Sports, Professor, Honored Worker of Education of the Ministry of Education and Science Tokkozha Kozhagulov, Cultural Worker of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nurbolat Iskakov, a member of the Union of Artists of the Republic of Kazakhstan, master Zhaksylyk Tobazhan presented the works.

The 90th anniversary of the true poet has begun like this. A monument to the poet will be erected in his native land, and scientific works, memoirs, poems, songs dedicated to the poet, works of fine arts will be published in a book. If a film about the life and work of the poet is made, etc. I think good deeds should be done too.

 (Pictures were taken from the personal archive of the painter)