ḴODĀYDĀDZĀDA, BĀBĀ-YUNOS (Tajik. Boboyunus Ḵudoydodzoda; b. Baljovan, ca. 1870-75; d. Baljovan, 27 May 1945; Figure 1), Tajik folk poet and Köroğlu singer.

Bābā-Yunos Ḵodāydādzāda was born in the village of Kāsatarāš, in Baljovān district (subsequently renamed Sovet, then Timur Malek), a mainstay of Tajik folk literature in the mountainous northern Kulāb (q.v.) province. He received little formal education other than learning music and poetic meters from his maternal uncle and later from master Baljovāni folk singers (ḥāfeẓ) such as Šokurmast, Mirzā-ye Ḵāl, and Nur-ʿAli Jiriq (Nal’sinskiĭ, pp. 53-54; Braginskiĭ, ed., p. 681; EST VIII, pp. 34-35). 

His biography, as manipulated by the Soviet authorities, remains vague. As a teenager, he was eyewitness to a mutiny against the Bukharan authorities in his home district, an incident he favorably elaborated on later in his life when Soviet Tajikistan fostered the incident as a historic anti-feudal uprising led by Wāseʿ (see Kulāb). Eluding the governor of Baljovān, whether because of the uprising or for economic reasons, Ḵodāydādzāda spent most of his youth far away from his birthplace, mostly in the Transoxianan districts of Samarkand, Ḵˇoqand, and Tashkent, which by then had gone under the jurisdiction of the Russian governorate of Turkestan. Ḵodāydādzāda is said to have worked at a ginning factory in Tashkent, where he sympathized with the Russian Bolsheviks during the 1917 Revolutions (Tursunzoda and Boldyrev, p. 10; EST VIII, p. 34). Whatever the case might have been, by the virtue of his mere presence in the Russian-dominated cities of Central Asia, he must have acquired a unique experience that was implausible to a typical ḡalča, or mountain Tajik of the Bukharan emirate. Subsequently, it appears that from early on under the Soviet regime, Ḵodāydādzāda cast his artistic lot with the new trend, which led him to become the folk-poet laureate of Soviet Tajikistan by blending the folkloric verse with current social themes, and by boosting Soviet patriotism, especially during the World War II (Hasan). His poem appeared in textbooks for decades.

The most authentic of all Ḵodāydādzāda’s performances is his repertoire of the Guruḡli (Köroğlu) epic. His exceptional skill in singing the Guruḡli stories on the dotār (a long-neck lute; q.v.) won him great reputation throughout Tajikistan. He knew by heart tens of thousands of verses of many legends and tales. According to his biographer Ya. I. Nal’sinskiĭ (pp. 53-54), Bābā-Yunos’s performance would take hours from evening to dawn, with only short breaks to relax and eat, for several nights in a row. Truly as a traveling bard he would visit village to village in the districts of Kulāb, Qatātegin, Darvāz, Ḥeṣār (qq.v.), and Vaḵš to perform in private banquets and life-cycle parties (Rajabov, p. 6). In his travels many novice Guruḡli singers joined him as disciples, some of whom became master Guguḡli-singers (Guruḡliḵˇān) of the next generation, such as Ḥaqnaẓar Kabud, Qorbān-ʿAli Rajab, Ṣādeq Razzāq, Mirzā ʿAli Ḥasanov, and Karim Maḥmadov (EAST I, pp. 110-13; EST VIII, pp. 34-35, 326, 380, 383).  

Ḵodāydādzāda attracted scholarly attention early on; his Guruḡli stories were recorded and preserved at the archives of the Rudaki Institute of Language and Literature at the Tajikistan Academy of Sciences in Dushanbe (Braginskiĭ et al., pp. 680-81). The repertoires of Ḵodāydādzāda and two other master performers were combined to produce a compendium of Tajik Guruḡli epic under the editorship of Iosif Samuilovich Braginskiĭ (Gūrūḡlī, 1987). Otherwise, only excerpts of Ḵodāydādzāda’s Guruḡli have been published in print (in his Še’r va dostonho [Šeʿr wa dāstānhā], pp. 25-80; “Jangi Avaz bo pahlavoni Salmonšoh-Govdoršoh,” in his Surudho, pp. 148-52).

Aside from his artistic activities, little is known about Ḵodāydādzāda’s personal life. Soviet authorities portrayed Ḵodāydādzāda as a member of a kolkhoz farm who worked hard also in road construction projects (Tursunzoda and Boldyrev, p. 10; EST VIII, pp. 34-35; Braginskiĭ et al., p. 681), but this proposition contradicts his career as a professional bard. Ḵodāydādzāda died in the village of Čilča in Baljovān district in 1945. 

Sample text. The following episode is taken from “Dostoni Vose’,” Part II (in Fol’klori tojik, 1957, p. 418), which was sung by Ḵodāydādzāda in accompaniment on the dotār. The poem’s prosody is based on eight-syllable verses (occasionally seven or nine syllables) organized in loosely rhymed couplets.

Askar-i Vose’ šud ravon;
Dar Satalmuš girift makon.

Du kas omad ay Baljuvon:
ud-ut odam-i juvozron,
Gurext,” guft, “mir-i Baljuvon.”

Askar-i Vose’ bud judo;
Yak taqsim-uš mond bolo.
Mardum digar nakard nigo.
Pešravo budan bevafo;
Ahd-e bastan ba hoqimo: 
“Guriftan-i Vose’ tan-i mo.” 

Ay Satalmuš zarb-i tir šud;
Pešrav-aš guf, “Vose’ dastgir šud.”
Vose’ ambid dar Baljuvon;
Dar sar-i mazor girift makon.
Har-du-š buromad ay Baljuvon;
Guf, “e Vose’ juvozron,
Askar-a man nakun čandon.”
Vose’ yak gašt kad nigo;
“Tabl-a bizanen,” guft, “yoro!”
Tabl-i jang-uš bino šudak;
Dar Baljuvon azo šudak.

The army of Vāseʿ set out;
And launched in Satalmush [village].
Two persons (spies) came from Baljovān: 
“From you a [mere] seed-oil extractor,
Fled the ruler of Baljovān,” they said.

The army of Vāseʿ was divided;
One branch stayed atop.
People cared not any longer.
The forerunners [of Vāseʿ’s army] were disloyal;
They made a pledge to the rulers:
“Leave the arrest of Vāseʿ to us.”

From Satalmush came firing of bullets;
The forerunner said, “Vāseʿ was captured.”
Vāseʿ dismounted in Baljovān;
And positioned himself at the cemetery.
Both of them (spies) came from Baljovān;
And said, “O Vāseʿ the seed-oil extractor,
Do not prevent the soldiers for long.”
Vāseʿ took a look around;
“Play the drum, comrades,” he said.
The battle drum was set up;
And the battle began in Baljovān.

Bibliography (online resources accessed 28 March 2014):


Še’r va dostonho (Poems and stories), ed. L. Buzurgzoda and S. Javharizoda, Stalinabad, 1941.

Bahoduroni maydoni jangi vatanī (The warriors of the battlefield of the patriotic war), transcribed and ed. S. Burhonov, Stalinabad, 1943 (available at http://nauka1941-1945.ru/files/pdf/EB_1943_AKS_00001021.pdf). 

Surudhoi Boboyunus, ed. L. Buzurgzoda and R. Jalilov, Stalinabad, 1950; ed. B. Rahimzoda and Ya. Nal’skiĭ, Stalinabad, 1951.

Muhabbati ḵalq (The love of people), Stalinabad, 1951. 

Fol’klori tojik, ed. Mirzo Tursunzoda and Alexandr Nikolaevich Boldyrev, Stalinabad, 1957, pp. 106-55, 416-45 (Wāseʿ uprising).

Gūrūḡlī: Éposi xalqii tojik/ Gurugli: Tadzhikskiǐ narodnyǐ épos (Gurugli, the Tajik national epic), introduced and tr. by Iosif Samuilovich Braginskiĭ, Tajik texts prepared by Kh. Nazarov and B. Širmukhammedov (Šermuhammadov), Moscow, 1987.

Fol’klori tojik (khrestomatiya), ed. M. Ne’matov, S. Asadulloev, and R. Toshmatov, Dushanbe, 1989.


Rajab Amonov, Očerki éjodiyoti dahanakii Kūlob dar asosi materialhoi fol’klori Sari Ḵosor (Sketch of the oral literature of Kulāb based on the folklore materials from Sar-e Ḵāsār), Dushanbe, 1963.

[EAST] Éntsiklopediyai adabiyot va san’ati Tojik, 3 vols., Dushanbe, 1988-2004.

[EST] Éntsiklopediyai sovetii Tojik, 8 vols., Dushanbe, 1976-86.

Iosif Samuilovich Braginskiĭ et al., Gurugli: Tadzhikskiǐ narodnyǐ épos / Gūrūḡlī. Éposi xalqii tojik (Gurugli, the Tajik national epic), Moscow, 1987.

Zokir Hasan, “Chernoglazïĭ-i tojik va Zhukov, (Tajik “black-eyed-ness” and Zhukov), Jumhuriyat, nos. 59-60, 8 May 2012; at http://www.jumhuriyat.tj/index.php?art_id=9307

Ya. I. Nal’sinskiĭ, Gafiz Boboyunos: Ocherk o zhizni i tvorchestve (The folk singer Bābā-Yunos: Essays on life and creativity), Stalinabad, 1950.

Qurbonalī Rajabov, Gūrūḡlī: Dostoni bahoduroni Čambuli maston II (Gurughli: A tale of the heroes of Chambul of Mastān), transcribed by M. Kholov and Qamariddin Hisomov, ed. Q. Hisomov and Rajab Amonov, Dushanbe, 1963.

M. Tursunzoda and A. N. Boldyrev, eds., Fol’klori tojik, Stalinabad, 1957.

(Habib Borjian)

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