Bakhshi: the art of a storyteller, the talent of a musician, and the custodian’s mission

Bakhshi: the art of a storyteller, the talent of a musician, and the custodian’s mission

Honored Bakhshi of Turkmenistan Kerven Evbasarov and gijak player Mered Tachiev performed at the Turkmen National Conservatory, presenting their interpretation of the well-known destan “Nejep Oglan”, worshiped by musicians and audiences.

The musical and poetic art of bakhshi is one of the most ancient and original, and it has a special place in the history of the Turkmen people. There are several traditional schools of this performing art, in which the main role is assigned to the musician-storyteller.

“Recently, Ashgabat hosted a film premiere, shot according to this destan, – says Kerven Evbasarov. – And today, I and my colleague, the teacher of the Dashoguz Music School, are playing this ancient and profound destan for the Conservatory students. Much attention in the story is paid on the relationship between the teacher and his student. After all, the legend’s hero is the bakhshi pupil, who surpassed his mentor.”

Starting with a storyteller’s ornamental addition, bakhshi hypnotically covers the attention of listeners, as if immersing them in those distant times. A wave of the hand and a vigorous strike on the strings – and the words of destan are magically woven into the musical drawing, which is colored by unusual (for the “uninitiated”) vocal techniques, somewhat akin to the fatal sound. Such a fine art can probably be compared with the craft of carpet-makers, where a real masterpiece is born loop by loop.

“Bakhshi’s art is very complex one – it is almost a theater of one actor. You need to be able to transform into characters of the story, and then easily move away from them, staying in the role of the narrator, and at the same time always maintain a musical rhythm, accompanying the music with singing and elements of throat sound, by the way, this is one of the features of bakhshi, – tells Kerven Evbasarov. – I’ve been learning this art from the childhood, I know a lot of destans and try to pass my skills to my students.”

In 2019, at the 1st International festival of bakhshi art, held in Uzbekistan, Kerven Evbasarov was awarded first place, performing a fragment from the “Gerogly” novel.

… The amazing concert completes to incessant applause, words of gratitude and bouquets of flowers for the destan’s performers, leaving none of listeners indifferent.

“I am happy to be taught by the master like Kerven Evbasarov, – says Rovshan Hallyev, a fifth-year student at the Turkmen National Conservatory. – Our teacher has a very kind soul, and his art comes from the heart. The teacher helps us in everything, you can call him at any time of the day or night and get good advice. As for destan, which was performed today, I can say that this is a cautionary tale. The hero goes through many difficulties to achieve perfection in playing the dutar. So it is in the life – to achieve success, you need to work hard.