Iasyr Shivaza
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Iasyr Shivaza

Yasir Shiwazi
Yas?r ?ivaza
Born5 May[1][2] or 18 May 1906[3]
Died18 June 1988(1988-06-18) (aged 82)
  • Writer
  • poet
  • editor
  • translator
  • linguist
  • scholar
  • social activist
Years active1930-65
  • Shiwazi Jiujiuzi (father)

Iasyr Shivaza, Yasir Shiwazi[a] or Shivaza[b] (born 5 or 18 May 1906[c] in Moskva District, Chuy oblast, Russian Empire - died 18 June 1988 in Frunze, Kirghizia, Soviet Union),[1][2] known by his pseudonym Xianma (Dungan: ),[1] was a famous Soviet Dungan poet, writer, editor, linguist, translator, scholar and social activist in the former Kirghiz SSR (modern-day Kyrgyzstan).[4][5]

Shiwazi, who had a strong sense of national responsibility and mission, made significant contributions to the development and prosperity of Dungan art and culture. He founded Soviet Dungan literature, was the author of many textbooks in Dungan language and literature and brought literacy to the Dungan people--most of whom were illiterate after they fled the Qing dynasty.[6] The first book that he wrote, "The Morning Star", was published in 1931 and is the first printed book in the history of the Dungan people. He is the author of more than thirty books, including collections of poems and short stories in Russian, Kyrgyz and Dungan. He's made translations of classics of Soviet literature from Russian to Dungan and he's translated classics of Kyrgyz writers and poets into Dungan. His works have also been translated into other languages spoken by the various peoples of the USSR, some of which have been published abroad.[3][5]

His works inherited Chinese and Russian cultures and the dominant influences of his poetry are reflected in language, imagery, theme, form, as well as other aspects; the deep influence is reflected in the Russian literary trend, concept, tradition and cultural spirit. In addition, the description of Russian folklore in his poetry and the repeated presentation of Russian characters and events reflect the poet's profound Russian complex.[clarification needed][4]

Having been well respected among Central Asians and Chinese people, his Dungan poems became popular in the Sinosphere, the Soviet Union, as well as the rest of the world.[5][7]

Name spelling

His name in the Dungan language was ? (pronounced [j?'s?r w?'t?s?]) and the corresponding name in Mandarin is Y?s?'?r Shíwázi (· in Simplified Chinese, · in Traditional Chinese, pronounced [jà.sí.à? ?ǐ.wǎ.tsi]). Prior to the switch to the Cyrillic alphabet which he and others had created, his name was spelled "Jas?r vaz?" in the Latin alphabet used between 1932 and 1953. Before the Soviets banned the Arabic script in the 1920s, his name was rendered in Xiao'erjing as (nowadays used by some Hui). During his literary activity, he was known by his pseudonym "Xianma" ().[1]

According to Rimsky-Korsakoff (1991), his family name, "Shivazi" (), literally means 'the tenth child'; the corresponding expression is written in Chinese as .[8] This kind of three-syllable family name is common among the Dungan people of the former Soviet Union.

There were two different spellings of his family name: "Shiwazi" and "Shivaza", the latter being used by Russophones due to naming customs imposed by the Russian Empire (later the Soviet Union). He was fully known as "? ? " (Jasyr D?umazovi? ?ivaza, [j?'s?r dm?'zovit? v?'za]) in Russian, with the patrynomic "?" being derived from his father's Dungan name "Jiujiuzi" (, rendered in Russian as "Jumaza" or "?"). His Kyrgyz name ? ? (Yas?r Cumaza uulu ?ivaza, [j?'s?r d?um?'z? u:'?u ?iv?'z?], previously spelled "Jas?r ?umaza uulu ?ivaza" in the Uniform Turkic Alphabet and written as in the Perso-Arabic script) was taken from his Russian name.


Yasir Shiwazi was born on 18 May (or 5 May according to Russian sources) 1906 in the village of Sokuluk (Dungan: ) some 30 km west of Bishkek, in what is known today as the Chuy Region of Kyrgyzstan.[1][2] His parents and grandparents were born in China's Shaanxi province, and came to Kyrgyzstan (at the time, part of the Russian Empire) from the Ili region in the early 1880s, after the defeat of the Dungan Rebellion and the return of the Yining (Kulja) area to China.[9][10]

In 1916, when he was 10 years old, he was sent to study at the village's Koranic school where he studied Arabic until 1923, and during this time period, he worked at a blacksmith shop.[3] He later mentioned that it was only by luck that he did not become a mullah, like the other three students who reached the graduation.

After the October Revolution of 1917, Shivaza's father, Jumaza Shivaza (pinyin: Shiwazi Jiujiuzi, ) participated in establishing Soviet power in the region, joining the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1919, and later becoming the chairman of the village Soviet.[9]

Later 17-year-old Yasir Shiwazi was chosen, by drawing lots (there were no volunteers), to study at the Tatar Institute for Education of the Minority Group in Tashkent. During the six years (1924-30) that he spent there, Shiwazi, together with other Dungan students including Husein Makeyev and Yusup Yanshansin, started working on designing a suitable alphabet for Dungan based on the Soviet Latin script and began writing Dungan poetry.[9][10][3]

Literary career

After graduation, Shiwazi spent two months in the fall of 1930 teaching at a Dungan school in Frunze (now Bishkek), participating in the creation of the first Dungan spelling books and readers. He was then transferred to an editing job at Kirgizgosizdat (Kyrgyzstan State Publishing House), where he worked until 1938, and then again in 1954-57. He continued both to work on textbooks for his people and to write poetry. At least three of his textbooks were published in 1933, and at 1934 he was admitted to the prestigious Union of Soviet Writers. He started translating Russian classics into the Dungan language as well, his translation of several Pushkin's poems being published in Frunze in 1937.[9][10][3]

He worked for the Union of Kyrgyz Writers in 1938-41, and then again in 1946-54. When Nazi Germany invaded the USSR, he started to do war work--in Moscow and sometimes on the front lines--primarily writing and translating materials for the Kyrgyz-language news-sheets published for the 100,000 or so Kyrgyz soldiers in the Red Army.[9][10]

The post-war period was a productive one in Shiwazi's writing career. He also participated in the committees designing the new Dungan Cyrillic alphabet, which was eventually introduced in 1953. In the 1950s, he was finally able to meet Chinese writers from China whom visited the Soviet Union at the time, and he made a trip to China in 1957 with a Soviet Dungan delegation.[10]

Huimin bao

He, along with another Dungan poet Husein Makeyev, worked on the Huimin bao (Dungan: ? ; Chinese: ), which was published in Bishkek and named after the Hui people, and is the only Dungan-language newspaper. Since the 1930s, the newspaper had been renamed several times; first published in 1930 in the Kirghiz ASSR as Sabattuu bol (Kyrgyz: , lit. 'Be Literate'), then Dun Xuir (Dungan: , Chinese: , lit. 'Spark of the East') in 1932 before all publications were ceased in 1939. As the Soviet Dungan newspaper resumed publication in 1957, it was renamed Sulian huizu bao ( , , lit. 'Soviet Hui Newspaper'). During this time, Shivazi was appointed its editor-in-chief, holding that post until his retirement in 1965. In 1958, he then renamed the newspaper to Shiyuedi qi (? , ?, lit. 'The October Banner'), and then was finally renamed again as Huimin bao after the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, in 2014, this newspaper was renamed by the Chinese as Zhun-ya Huimin bao (, Dungan: -? ? , lit. 'Central Asian Hui Newspaper') due to the fact that Dungan people (part of the Hui ancestry) are spread throughout Central Asia.[11]

Original works

Shiwazi's literary production was ample and versatile. Along with politically loaded poems and stories, expected from any author who was to survive in Joseph Stalin's era, he wrote love poetry, poems out the past and present of his people and his land, about China, and children's literature. Some of his poetry addressed to China, the land of his ancestors, welcoming the Communist revolution that was happening, or had just happened there.

Soviet Dungans being largely separated from China's written culture, the language of Shiwazi's poetry and prose - and the Dungan literary language in general - is closer to the colloquial, sometimes dialectal Chinese than to traditional Chinese. He was, however, familiar with some of the modern Chinese literature, such as works of Lu Xun, but, since he never had the opportunity to learn Chinese characters, he read the translated Russian versions.

Poem sample: "White Butterfly"

Following is a short poem by Shiwazi, "White Butterfly", originally published in 1974 in Dungan, along with its KNAB 1994 romanization based on Pinyin, a morpheme-by-morpheme "transcription" into the Chinese characters, and the English translation by Rimsky-Korsakoff (1991), p. 188-189.[12]

The poet writes of a butterfly, who is happy in the here-and-now of the spring, but who is not going to see the fall with its golden leaves. He appears to make a botanical error, however, mentioning a variety of chrysanthemum (Chinese: , Dungan: M? ) among spring flowers, even though in reality they bloom in the fall.


Having participated in the creation of the Dungan alphabet and bringing literacy to the Dungan people, Shivaza also did a large amount of work in making literary works from other languages available in Dungan. He rendered a number of classical and modern works of Russian poetry into the Dungan language. He has translated a number of works by Pushkin, Lermontov, Nekrasov, Mayakovsky. He translated song lyrics by Lebedev-Kumach and prose works by Leo Tolstoy, Chekhov, and Maxim Gorky.

He also translated into Dungan some poems of the Ukrainian classic Shevchenko, of the Kyrgyz poets Sashylganov and Tokombaev, and even of the Belarusian Yanka Kupala.

Being fluent in Kyrgyz, Shivaza also translated some of his works into Kyrgyz.

Translation sample

Following are the first two stanzas of Shivaza's translation of Pushkin's The Tale of the Priest and of His Workman Balda into Dungan along with its Pinyin-based KNAB 1994 transliteration, its morpheme-by-morpheme "transcription" into the Chinese characters, and an English translation.:[15]


Shivazi died on 18 June 1988 at age 82 in Frunze, Kirghiz SSR.[1][2]

Scholarly works

  • "? " (Huimin bao, Frunze, 1957-1964; then known as "? ", 'The Banner of October Revolution')
  • "" ('Morning Star', 1931)
  • "? " ('The Wave of the Revolution', 1932)
  • " " ('Selected Poems', 1958)
  • "?, ('Hello, Spring', 1966)
  • " -?" ('Good Friends', 1958)
  • " ", Frunze, 1973; " " ('My New Home', Frunze, 1969)


  • Order of the Red Banner of Labour - 6 June 1956
  • Order of Peoples Friendship - 22 August 1986
  • Order "Badge of Honour" (x3) - until 1 November 1958
  • Medal For Labor Valour - 4 May 1962
  • Medal For Valiant Labour


  1. ^ Dungan: ? (previously spelled "Jas?r vaz?"); simplified Chinese: ·; traditional Chinese: ·; pinyin: Y?s?'?r Shíwázi. (See this section for more.)
  2. ^ Russian: ? ? (BGN/PCGN: Yasyr Shivaza). See also this section.
  3. ^ 5 May according to Russian sources; 18 May according to other sources (e.g. in Kyrgyz, Chinese).
  4. ^ Russian: , meaning 'silly fellow'.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h ", ? ?". Cultin.
  2. ^ a b c d e f " ? ?". «».
  3. ^ a b c d e "? ? ". open.kg. 16 August 2017.
  4. ^ a b "·". Chongqing VIP. 2012.
  5. ^ a b c "·----". cnki.com.cn. 2016.
  6. ^ "Implications of the Soviet Dungan Script for Chinese Language Reform". pinyin.info.
  7. ^ "·". Chongqing VIP. 2014.
  8. ^ Viz. a Chinese paper that spells the poet's names as · (Pinyin: Yasier Shiwazi) in Chinese and Yaser Shiwaza in the English translation of the title: "?--·?" (On the Poetry of the Donggan Poet Yaser Shiwaza from Central Asia) Archived 29 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ a b c d e " ? ?". bse.sci-lib.com.
  10. ^ a b c d e " ? ?". VseslovA.
  11. ^ "110 ". Chinanews.com. 20 May 2016.
  12. ^ a b c "?----". ?. 4 January 2017.
  13. ^ a b "DUNGAN Cyrillic script" (PDF). transliteration.eki.ee. 3 September 2002.
  14. ^ Rimsky-Korsakoff (1991), p. 188-189
  15. ^ Cyrillic Dungan quoted as per The Dungan text and its "transcription" into Chinese characters is as per Rimsky-Korsakoff (1991) (p. 230); the Cyrillic Dungan text is back-transliterated with the help of the text in Sushanlo an Imazov (1988) (p. 119), who appear to give a somewhat different edition of this translation. The English translation is based on Rimsky Korsakoff's, with minor changes.
  16. ^ a b "(? ? )". ?. 11 October 2017.

Main source

  • Svetlana Rimsky-Korsakoff Dyer, "Iasyr Shivaza: The Life and Works of a Soviet Dungan Poet". Verlag Peter Lang GmbH, 1991. ISBN 3-631-43963-6. (Contains a detailed bibliography and ample samples of Shivaza works', some in the original Cyrillic Dungan, although most in a specialized transcription, with English and sometimes standard Chinese translations).

Other literature

  • ? ?, . " ". , "" ?, 1988. (Mukhamed Sushanlo, Mukhame Imazov. "Dungan Soviet Literature: textbook for 9th and 10th grade". Frunze, 1988). ISBN 5-658-00068-8.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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