If a nation does not know its history, if the country loses its history, then its citizens have nowhere to go.
Mirzhakyp Dulatuly


Learning that we were following the tracks of Alash party, aksakal Magazbek led us to the school building, which stood in front of his house.

Here he showed us the memorial plaque dedicated to the figures of Alash erected due to his initiative.

25 years passed after our previous visit of the border historical region of Zaissan. Our bus left Astana at seven o’clock in the morning, and in 24 hours we reached a small town of Zaissan. I stayed at my relative’s house, uncle Muratkhan, who lived not far from the bus station “Aray” on “64 Astana” street. I didn’t say anybody about my arrival,      so uncle Muratkhan, aunt Magripa, and aunt Bekzat were delighted to see me.

After having breakfast, uncle Muratkhan began to getting ready for work - he managed the regional department of agriculture and entrepreneurship. Having finished talking about work, everyday life, I also went on my business...

The village of Kuanysh.

My main goal was to follow the tracks of the Alash figures in Zaissan town, listen to the stories from the elders. First of all I needed to meet Mr. S.Siyrbayev, the Head of the Regional Department of Culture, and inform him about the purpose of my visit. I feel my goal will be achieved.

Zaissan was a blooming town. It was removed from the list of the single-industry towns, lots of money allocated for the development from the republican budget, because "this small city could provide for itself". Indeed, the region is self-sufficient in water, light, fuel, oil and gas; and it seemed it needed nothing else.

Black Toyota Camry driven by Ali's nephew stopped in the courtyard of the House of Culture. As soon as he learned the mission of our visit, the Head of the Regional Department of Culture provided his official vehicle for our trips. We were exceedingly grateful with this motive. Thanking him, with a driver Tilek we decided to go to Regional History Museum of Zaissan to Mr. Femistokle Zhunyssov. As long as uncle Femistokle was reaching us from his house located on the outskirts of the town, we talked with Kanagat Salykov, a director of the museum, about Bobkin's house, which was donated to the museum building. While we were talking, an elderly man dressed in black tights, a blue T-shirt, ran into the courtyard and politely shook our hands. I was surprised to see such an old man full of energy and quickness. Noticing my surprise, Kanagat said: "Lucky you are, Zangar! - you will quickly handle that case. Uncle Tokl will tell you everything you're interested in".

In a few minutes we headed towards a village of Kuanysh. The construction of the village was personally headed by Myrzhakyp Dulatov. He was specially invited by a well-known bai (a rich man), a benefactor Bidakhmet Babikenov.

On the way to the village, our acquaintance with uncle Femistokle began. He was born in a city of Sarysumbe (now - Altay) in the Eastern part of Turkestan. His father was a teacher. During one of his lessons, when he was telling children about the political figure Femistokle from the genus Neocles, born in 524 in Athens, whose name was glorified during the Greco-Persian wars, the messenger broke into the class and informed that his wife gave birth to a boy and he immediately had to give a name to his son. Happy and puzzled father didn’t clearly understand what to say and said "Femistokle", so they gave the boy a Greek name who was born in the faraway steppe. What an interesting story of a name! If a famous writer Dulat Isabekov hadn’t seen such examples in his life with his own eyes, he wouldn’t have begun the first lines of his story "Bonaparte's Marriage" with these words: "When a name is given to a child no one can exceed Kazakhs in the "impudence!"

The villages of Zaissan were located close to each other. Kuanysh located on the left side of the Maikapchagai highway. Kuanysh appeared as a ransom for innocently shed tears, as the compensation for dozens of human lives, for hundreds of exterminated cattle. You ask why? Kazakh people have lots suffered from the peasant migrants who taking advantage of various orders-decrees of the tsarist administration moved on from Russia. They relied on the support of the armed and cruel Russian Cossack troops. They unceremoniously seized fertile lands along the banks of Zharly, Kenderlik Rivers. The peasant migrants looked down on the nomadic way of life, on housekeeping, on traditional livestock, on their actions to preserve and improve the quality of the fertile lands of the local Kazakhs who had lived on this land for centuries. Not only looked down but also "Russians, having no permits, sowed bread, put up tents, and on the pretence that "you will ruin my bread", collected 30-40 kopecks (coins) from each house. If they did not pay, then the Russians came out with rifles, cudgels and did not let them drive the cattle, they did not let them wander" - Mirzhakip Dulatov wrote in his notes. Such actions aroused anger in people highly respected by the folk such as Japabai Bitibayuly, Bekmukhambet Satypaldyuly.

"Bekmukhambet had a religious education, after passing the mufti exam in Ufa, received the title of "decree mullah”. He had made friends with Mirzhakip Dulatov since 1904, consulted with him on various issues", Femistokle Zhunisov said, a local historian. "Bekmukhambet was given a legal document "a decree mullah"- this is a religious occupation approved by the tsar's decree, an official document issued according to all the rules", - the local historian said. The elders were powerless against the district chiefs who ignored their complaints. Outraged by such acts, Bekmukhambet's group, having secretly consulted with Mirzhakip's group, began courageous moves. They armed a hundred dzhigits (young men) with batons, spears, partially with rifles, hid them in osier-beds and summoned respected people from the peasants for talks. During the meeting, they surrounded and tied them up. And there Bekmukhambet put the blames, their deeds with showing the evidence and said: "Your life does not cost a price. The district chiefs are far away, there is not a lawyer besides you, so we will kill you". The peasants began to cry bitterly. After this rebellion, the peasant-migrants "descended from the heaven to the ground", repented and came to an agreement. Bekmukhambet mullah persuaded his countrymen to receive 15 acres of the land from the tsarist power, settled on the bank of the Sergazy river. And there a new Kazakh village was born. By the fifth anniversary of the formation of the village it was given the name of "Kuanysh".

In Kuanysh village we met with aksakal Magazbek Toktaubayev, who wrote a book about the history of the village. Magazbek aksakal was informed that we were following Alash party’s footsteps. He led us to the school building that was in front of his house. There he showed us the memorial plate dedicated to Alash activists that was built due to his initiatives, ideas. Mirzhakip Dulatov's name was engraved at the very beginning in the list of the founders of the village. One of the places of interest in this district was a huge tree growing near the village of Kokzhyra, not far from the village of Kuanysh. No one could say the age of the maple for sure. Uncle Femistokle said that he had heard about this tree for a long time, and was lucky to see it only last year. The length of the perimeter reached about 9 meters. The height was about 25-30 meters. "An inhabitant of the village shed light on the existence of this tree long ago. Even a correspondent from a regional newspaper "Didar" came and took an interview from this inhabitant. The resident of the village, whose vegetable garden was near the tree, said that the age of the tree comes to 47 years. I do not agree with this statement", - the local historian Zhunyssov said. His disagreement was connected with the fact that old people from the village aged over eighty years old, saw this tree when they were children. In addition, to reach such a size half a century was not enough. Also uncle Femistokle was sure that it was not the only largest tree in Zaissan, that Eastern Kazakhstan was rich with large trees. Nevertheless, this tree was the only and silent witness of the Alash period, historical events both happy and sad years. The tree grew on the eastern side of the village. It grew not in someone's garden, but completely separately. The powerful roots of the tree were seen on the surface of the earth, especially the root, which protruded 1.5 meters from the soil, stood out. Nearby several poplars and elm trees grew. When we asked what kind of tree was that. Uncle Femistokle without hesitation answered that it was maple.

Uncle Femistokle despite his age, he was about to turn 70 years old, moved quickly and vigorously. He, the driver and I stretching out our arms, tried to embrace the tree. But the half of the space remained uncovered. So to embrace the tree, you need the help of six people.

"Nobody knows when and who planted this tree. But, probably, it is not difficult to find out its age. If specialists come to examine this tree, I'm ready to bring them here and show them. Many people do not know other huge trees, except Zharkent Aulie-Agash. Such trees exist in many regions. They just need an exploration", - the local historian Femistokle said. The huge tree stood alone on the outskirts of the village. It was not fenced. An old-timer, that people should admire, now served as a shadow, a salvation from the heat for the cattle. Local inhabitants knew but, unfortunately, did not really think about it. That's how we got acquainted with this wonder-tree from the East; it’s the second tree in size after the famous Aulie-Agash in the Almaty region.


So far the history of Zaissan is rich, so its historical places are preserved. Even the appearance of buildings can tell a lot. Having traveled around all the villages, we returned to Zaissan and asked uncle Femistokle to help us make videos about the historical buildings of the town. A good starting point of filming was an old building situated in one of the central streets of the town. It was a house of Zhunus Tatanov, a well-known bai, a faithful comrade of Alash. The building was built in 1900-1915 by a talented architect - Bayazit Satbayuly.

If you look at the life of the Zaissan rich people of that period - you can see that in all their richness they cared for ordinary people, helped in their needs and concerns. For example, Bidakhmet Bobkin, up to exile, helped needy people. It cannot be denied that Zhunus Tatanov made a contribution; he assisted in propagating the ideas of Alash in the Zaissan territory.

"There are very few facts about the life of Tatanov himself. It is known that in 1918 his house served as the headquarters of the "Alash" party. The documents that bearing witness of it have been preserved,” the local historian Femistokle Zhunisov said. The head of the house, Zhunus Tatanov, was shot by three drunken revolutionary Bolsheviks in the courtyard of his house. We asked him whether they were relatives as the surname of uncle Tokl was Zhunisov as well, he just smiled and did not answer.

As soon as the building was taken over by the Soviet authorities, there was the education department for many years. In 1961after the death of a great writer Mukhtar Auezov, a school named after him was moved here. It is interesting that our guide Femistokle Zhunyssov studied together with Zhunus Tatanov's grandson at this school in the same class! Unfortunately, he did not have connection with his classmate.

This historical building became a symbol of shanyrak (a round roof symbolizing family happiness), under which there were three congresses of Kazakhs of the Zaissan district. The house, built by the great architect Bayazit, had no flaws. The yard had a large area - at one time it was almost a palace. The entrance to the yard was through the gate, one was large, two others were small, and the top of the entrances was made in the form of an arch elaborated with ornaments. The house was built from red sandstone. The ancient buildings, which decorated different parts of the town, belonged to the works of Bayazit Satbayuly.

"The well-known master had a habit of making walks around the city accompanied by the leaders of the national liberation movement of Alash - Ahmet Baitursynov, Mirzhakyp Dulatov, Raiymzhan Marsekov, Otynshy Alzhan, who came to Zaissan", aksakal Kalikhan Altybaev said.

In 1918, there worked the branch of Alash - "Tendik Zaman" in Zaissan, it was an armed detachment of Alash. Regional organization of the Kazakh Committee, organized under the Temporary Government, was led by Raiymzhan Marsekov. The work of the organization was also controlled by Mirzhakip Dulatov. But by the spring of 1918 the Bolsheviks had achieved power everywhere, and Alash's figures were driven out of Orenburg. On April 24 the same year, Mirzhakyp Dulatov with his ideological followers Akhmet Baitursynov, Raiymzhan Marsekov and his younger brother Sheriyazdan, Kanagat Suleimenuly were in the Chinese city of Chiguchak. My friend historian Erkin Rakhmetullin said: "The trip of the leaders of the government" Alash Orda "to China pursued the following goals:

1. Open an eastern emigration department of the Alash Orda government; 

2. Unite immigrated and local Kazakhs and officially register them in the government of China as citizens of the government of Alash Orda;

3. Support them in creating an independent autonomous management system".

But people abroad had hard times, they saw with their own eyes that the native people were under the pressure of Chinese rulers. So they made sure that they would hardly follow the ideas of Alash. Another local historian from Zaissan, Marat Magzumov, noted: "On the way back, the Alash's figures arrived in Zaissan." They crossed the border post Kuzuyn in Chilikti Valley. That period there was located Tangyt's village, a son of the famous Yense haji, in the Kuzuyn area.

"There were many supporters of the Alash delegation in China. One of them was Tangyt Yenseuly. The proof of it was a trip of the Alash figures to Tangyt village during their trip to China. They asked Tangyt for help and troops. Tangyt did not refuse to assist", - Yerkin Yerlanuly said. But there people did not clearly understand the idea of the movement, so the trip of the Alash figures finished in Zaissan.

It should be noted that the Shiliktinsky Valley is a sacred land that has left its mark not only in the archeology of Kazakhstan, but also in the world archeology. On the other side it was Tangyt Haji, on this side it was respected people of Butabay who shared the views and interests of the Alash figures. We were convinced in it during a trip to Shilikti.


The Shiliktinsky Valley is a land rich of historical events. The length of the valley is 60 km long and 30 km wide. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the descendants of Kozhan and Burymbet, sons of Alty Zhumyka, lived in this region. The Burymbet family clan was ruled over by Zeynollah Butabayuly, and the Kozhan family clan by Konyr Mazhituly. There is a mausoleum of Zeynollah in Zhalshi, which is only five kilometers from the village of Shilikti.

We were accompanied here by old residents of Shilikti - Jalel aksakal and Sayash myrza. Zhalshi fully matched its name; the densely growing cheegrass had strong, hefty roots. Cheegrass was tall as a man, and in some places could even hide a rider. The mausoleum of Zeynollah was visible from afar.

The history of Shilikti had the like land conflict as it took place in the village of Kuanysh. In 1899 the Shcherbin expidition, which began in 1896, came to the Tarbagatai territory. The project, a member of which was Alikhan Bokeykhanov, was engaged in the exploration of the Kazakh land, or rather was aimed at the implementing of migration policy of the Russian Empire. Definitely, this trip was a huge practice for Alikhan Bokeikhanov. The expedition in the east mapped the southern bank of Irtysh River, completely all the hollows of the Tarbagatai, Saur, Saykhan Mountains, and collected accurate data of the land. The expedition, serving the interests of the Russian Empire, carried out fruitful research; its results benefitted Russian merchants and landlords. They settled the lands of Zaissan, Tarbagatai. In the meantime the local Kazakhs were pushed into the mountainous territory. A Russian merchant A.I. Sorokin did not lose an opportunity, he built a winter residence in the most fertile Shilikti land - in Sarytumsyk.

The people couldn't ignore such an infringement. Because the land was a key to freedom, to lose it meant to lose everything.

Galym Baibatyrov wrote about this story: " One of the nights, when the first snow fell, all the cattle, all the hay of Sorokin were handed out to the people, the sheds and houses were destroyed, the remaining garbage was dropped into the waters of Kandys River. Then herds of horses were turned out to level with the ground leaving no trace. Later on Sorokin brought competent people; they found no material evidence against Zeynollah, only his oral evidence. Zeynollah was imprisoned for eight months in Zaissan. But for fear of the public discontent, for freight of coming into a big conflict, the county governors released Zeynollah from arrest".

Afterwards volost Zeynollah wrote a letter to Alikhan Bokeikhanov asking for advice and further actions. The letter was published in the 36th issue of Orenburg’s newspaper "Kazakh" in 1913 under the heading "A Reply Letter To Zeynollah Butabayuly." Alikhan Bokeikhanov also worried about what had happened. He said that such unfair actions were found all over the Kazakh land: "According to Carl Ritter's book" Asia ", there used to be a lake in this place. When the lake disappeared, the soil of the Shilikti land was salty. It was inconvenient to farm there; Shilikti was a center of cattle breeding. If the Swiss people from the European Alps came down to live there, they would be engaged in breeding cattle, milking cows, cooking cheese, grazing sheep, and making quality cloth from sheep wool".

He explained in detail the importance of the Shilikti land left since the time of the Saka tribes for the economy issue. The letter also informed how many clans lived in the Shilikti valley, how much hayfield they needed, etc. At the end of the letter the following remark was made: "According to the Law there were no excesses of land in the 54th gailau (summer pasture). The Kazakh who lived there, according to the map, was given to 13 831 arpent of land. The land of the 54th gailau wouldn't be confiscated for the needs of the treasury. If force was used, the consequences would be evident. 16 winter huts of Burymbet of the fourth village of the Shilikti volost bordered with the 55th gailau. The lands seized by Zeynollah Butabayuly were in the area of the 144th winter hut, so it could be relied on the order of the Council of Ministers on June 9, 1909, according to which the land with wintering was a pasture of cattle, a hayfield. There was no such Law that would require to migrate from wintering to give these lands to the Russian rich people".

Zeynollah Butabayuly passed away in 1924. The people accompanied him on his last journey with the deepest respect. The mausoleum of Zeynollah was built by the famous architect Bayazit Satbayuly. At the top lintel of the mausoleum he wrote his name in figurative letters, confirming his authorship. The mausoleum, built in 1925, consisted of two parts. The main front octagonal part towered and then became narrow at the junction with the back rounded part. The patterned front door showed that the mausoleum was built with the special honor.

The entrance was decorated with an arch. The mausoleum was illuminated by two lateral and one large western apertures. These openings alternated with decorative arched niches. The design of the mausoleum facade used a variety of techniques of decorative clutches. The total length of the building was 9.4 m, width 5.78 m, height 8.8 m. The mausoleum was built from raw brick and was lined with burned brick by figured masonry. According to the researchers, for today, there were only two mausoleums, where burned bricks were used during construction on the territory of East Kazakhstan.

Special furnaces for manufacturing and making bricks belonging to the national architect Bayazit Satbayuly were located in the city of Zaissan. The burnt bricks were delivered in sacks on horses and camels from Zaissan to Shilikti, located 60 kilometers from the city. The mausoleum of Zeynollah was sometimes called the "Dome of Zeynollah". Perhaps this was true but taking into account the historical significance of the monument it was not right to write and say so. The second room of the mausoleum was domed. The first part of the mausoleum had a complex shape, similar in stylistics to the architecture of the Southeast Asia.

It was seen that the master made all the effort and all his talent to build the mausoleum of Zeynollah. The mausoleum is under the state’s protection. Patterns and ornaments decorating the mausoleum of Zeynollah from the front to the rear doors are thoroughly thought out.

One of our guides - Zhalel aksakal, though he was in his nineties, still went straight and cheerfully. He told us various traditions that were common among the people.

"In the first years there were buried the bodies of two people in these two rooms. According to the descendants, these bodies belonged to Zhazhen and his mother. There was no banked earth, the land was level", Zhalel Magzhaiuly remembered. Despite the fact that two people rested there, only one tombstone was installed in the front room of the mausoleum. The mausoleum was protected by a special fence, but inside it was still overgrown with thick grass. High thickets of cheegrass and nettles interfered with the passage. Visitors could hardly find a bench, installed especially for those who came to honor the memory of the ancestor. Another feature was that the monument located at the border. There were no settlements further Shilikti. There were also works of art of the national master, the famous architect Bayazit Satbayuly, whose works truly knew no boundaries, were still kept on the other side of the border.

Thus, we were able to repeat the way of the Alash figures in the trip named "In the footsteps of Alash". We felt with new force the entire historical importance and significance of their affairs. Of course, the empty frontier villages and the fact that the people were trying to get over to the city aggrieved us. In former times the strategic settlements of state importance today were getting empty enclosed only by barbed wire.

But eventually we were glad that we were able to obtain a huge amount of information and materials during one trip.