Abstract

Magtymguly Pyragy is considered the national poet of the Turkmen people and credited with introducing classical Chagatai as a literary language and founding Turkmen literature.1 Hailing from the Caspian region near the modern-day border region between Turkmenistan and Iran,2 Pyragy traveled far and wide to Anatolia, Bukhara, Khiva, Afghanistan, and India; as a result, these geographies feature prominently in his poetry. Pyragy’s far-reaching geographic references in his poetry touch upon every stretch of the Silk Road from the Volga-Ural region all the way to China. His numerous verses evincing fear of the Kizilbash threat and his invocations of celebrated Persian mystic poets whose ranks he wished to join chart emotional, affective, and spiritual geographies that illuminate the political upheavals of the eighteenth century and the persistence of Pyragy’s own poetic ambitions in the face of regional instability. Surveying the diverse geographies and ecologies in the poetry of Pyragy reveals the unsettling realities of Turkmen tribal disunity, the affective expansiveness of the poetic Turkmen imaginary in depicting foreign landscapes, and the importance of nature and pride of place in the Caspian region in the midst of the shifting political geographies of the time.

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