The still understudied figure of epic tellers (dostonchi, bakhshi) in the Qashqa Darya and Surkhan Darya Plains (Southern Uzbekistan) is studied through the materials of successive ethnographic expeditions from the mid-1920s onwards, and through recent studies by Uzbekistani folklorists on the history of the regional bakhshis’ tradition since the eighteenth century (with particular attention for the schools of Sherobod, Boysun, Beshquton, Chiroqchi, and Qamay).  The author notably evokes vernacular versions of the Nurali and Alpomïsh cycles, and the development of peculiar dastans (like “Yozi and Zebo”) among Uzbek-speaking populations of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan.  The last paragraphs summarise the works by N. Ochilov on the attempts made by Qodir Bakhshi in the 1960s-80s for reconciling oral tradition with academic culture (through his dastans “Temur and Bayazid,” “Ahmad Yasawi,” “Samarqand tarovati [The Charm of Samarqand]”).  Beside these overall considerations, the paper does not really permit the reader to assess neither the specificity of the southern Uzbek schools of dastan telling, nor the complex relationship between oral and written culture in twentieth-century Uzbekistan.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: I-6.3.C-597