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Djafar Tarihi Preface

The tragic and dramatic story about the rescue of the annals


There is much controversy and resistance to the publication of the “Djagfar Tarihi” annals. The leading allegations are that the compilation was composed by an office of the Russian NKVD/KGB/FSB at an undefined time with a purpose of splitting the Türkic ethnic groups into opposing camps, that it was written by an unknown person claiming to be only a saviour of the annals, that it is a false compilation with no historical merit, that Ibragim Mohammed-Karimovich Nigmatullin is an unknown fictional personality.

In support of these allegations, there is no known systematic study addressing the authenticity of the compilation, no known systematic review and study of the materials. As far as the Russian state scientific apparatus, mass media and the population are concerned, the annals do not exist.  The minuscule prints (for volumes 2 and 3, 350 and 230 copies respectively, for volume 1 print is not indicated, but is rumoured to be 500 copies) assures that there is no mass circulation and no widespread knowledge of the substance of the compilation.

The allegations are also supported by the reality that there was no investigation into the wholesale annihilation of the native’s books during the first decades of the Soviet regime. No official was accused of instigating, conducting, executing or covering up the total cultural genocide of the indigenous nations. Even the players with very specific addresses, like the operatives in the NKVD office in the Kyzyl Yar, are nameless personages as though they have never been on the payroll of the agency and never produced any traces. The dark pages of cultural genocide were never raised, were not recognized, neither were they ever denied, other than the national memory they just never existed.

The allegations are also supported by the fact that there was no investigation into the disposition of the seized books. There are no public archives with protocols of destruction witnessed by the personnel of the Secret Service.  There are no public archives with any record on the disposition of the seized materials. Knowing the modus operandi of the Russian NKVD system, it can be suspected that the wholesale removal and consequent disposition and destruction of the seized materials were well documented in various protocols and office reports. Without public disclosure of the events relating to the state cultural genocide, any allegations can’t be refuted.

More than that, the primary documents of the ruling regime that led to the global destruction of the cultural heritage of the indigenous peoples, and to the total abolition of their alphabets and literature, remain sealed and unknown.

Starting in the early 2000’s, the word about collection started to spread, A. Lvova, a senior researcher at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg published a few articles in 2002 – 2006, where she analyzed some specific events recorded in the annals against bits of information from Greek, German, Jewish, Russian, and other sources, and found that the annals are not only consistent with the sources, but in some instances make sense of otherwise seemingly unintelligible stories (, with bibliography). The annals gained a few followers, but remain steadfastly ignored by the Russian scientific establishment, supported by energetic removal of some academia from their official positions and publishing restrictions. In Russia, however, it works backwards, the more something is squeezed, the larger grows the bubble.

F. Nurutdinov

Few words about the collection

“Djagfar Tarihi” (“History by Djagfar”) is the only known assembly of ancient Bulgarian annals that reached us. As many other Bulgarian sources, “Djagfar Tarihi” has a difficult and tragical history.

The collection has been compiled in 1680 under an order of the leader of the Bulgarian liberation movement, seid Djagfar, by a secretary of his office in the eastern part of Bulgaria, Bashkortostan, by the name of Iman. Probably, the seid expected to use this work for patriotic propaganda.

Bakhshi Iman (judging by his name, he was a Bashkorostani Bulgar) brilliantly executed his task, including in the collection the most valuable Bulgarian annals: “Gazi-Baradj Tarihi” (1229-1246) by Gazi-Baradj,  “Rightful Way, or Pious acts of Bulgarian Sheikhs ” (1483) by Mohammed-Amin, “Kazan Tarihi” (1551) by Mohamedyar Bu-Yurgan,  “Sheikh-Gali Kitaby” (1605) by Ish-Mohammed and some others.

Obviously, the collection played its role, in the 1681 seid Djagfar raised a liberating revolt in Bulgaria with the purpose of restoring independent Bulgarian state. But, after a defeat in 1683 from the colonial armies at Menzelinsk, he retreated to the depths of Bashkortostan, where he was seized by the treasonous feudals and turned over to the Russians. The further fate of this outstanding Bulgarian figure is unknown to us …

Also are unknown to us both the destiny of Bahshi Iman and of the original of his magnificent collection. But we know how even the most popular books disappear. Thus, only one copy of the Mohammed Gali composition “Kyssa-i Üsuf” reached us from the 16-th century, but it too mysteriously perished in the 1920s.

As to the “Djagfar Tarihi”,  the only copy is known to us of that collection, written in the 19th century in  “Bulgarian Türki”, surfaced at the beginning of the 20th century in the Kazakhstan city of Petropavlovsk (Kyzyl Yar in Bulgarian). How?

Since the old days, Kyzyl Yar was one of the centres of the Bulgarian culture. In the 19th century a large number of Bulgars, with close connections to Kazakhstan from time immemorial, moved there from Bulgaria.  In addition, through Kyzyl Yar ran the notorious Siberian path were passed many exiled Bulgarians on the way to the settlements and galleys. And during the Civil War (1918-1921), through Kyzyl Yar were evacuated all forces in opposition to the Bolsheviks, and among them were outstanding figures of the Bulgarian national movement (Gayaz Iskhaki and others). It is not improbable that exactly one of them could leave for safekeeping in the Kyzyl Yar the invaluable manuscript of the “Djagfar Tarihi” collection. We do not know who kept the collection, but in 1939 my uncle Ibragim Mohammed-Karimovich Nigmatullin (1916 – 1941) rendered its text in Russian in several note-books. My mom, Rashida Karimovna Nurutdinova, the sister of I.M.-K. Nigmatullin, explained to me the reasons for that.

According to her story, at the end of the ’30s was conducted wholesale total destruction of the Bulgarian books and manuscripts in the national Bulgarian-Arabic script. To save the “Djagfar Tarihi” collection, the Mikail’s poem “Shang Kyzy dastany” (865 – 882) and the “Baradj dastany” epos (16-th century), I.M.-K.Nigmatullin converted the texts of the manuscripts into Russian. And much in time. Someone has reported on him, and he was hauled to the branch of NKVD (People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs). Then, for keeping the “old-alphabet” folios was given a sentence of at least ten years of the Stalin’s concentration camps. But the uncle was released. That indicates that the “Djagfar Tarihi” collection has been found and destroyed by the security officers. The texts in Russian alphabet were not a subject to destruction, and the employees of NKVD, working “strictly per instruction”, did not confiscate the uncle’s notebooks with the text of the same collection in Russian. And thank goodness for that, as they say…

In 1941, before the Great Patriotic War (WWII), I.M.-K. Nigmatullin was drafted to serve in the Baltic, in the border city of Lida, and disappeared soon after the beginning of the war.

My unforgettable grandmother Latyfa, who never believed the news of the death of her son, carefully preserved all his books and notebooks. In 1966, when I was preparing to enter a university, for the first time she opened a small closet and gave me everything that remained from the uncle’s books. In 14 or 15 notebooks filled by tiny handwriting, were the texts of the abovementioned Bulgarian pieces in Russian.

From that time, at each my visit to the grandmother, I copied large fragments from the uncle notebooks… In 1976, Latyfa-abi died. According to her will, I took with me to Kazan the archive of my uncle.

At the beginning of 1980’s, I wrote a letter to the USSR AN (Academy of Sciences), where I proposed to be given material support for the publication of a rendition of the “Djagfar Tarihi”, and received a derisory response. Then I decided to write and publish at least an abstract of the rendition of the texts of all three monuments, and took the notebooks and a part of the extracts to my father summer cabin. I have written an abstract. But soon after, all uncle’s notebooks and some of my excerpts were stolen from the summer cabin. Only some excerpts remained at my home. They contained approximately a half of the renditions of the texts from the collection, and a larger part of the renditions of the “Shang Kyzy dastany” and “Baradj dastany” texts.

To the attention of the reader is offered the part of the “Djagfar Tarihi” collection which survived so many ordeals, in the rendition made in Russian by  I.M.-K. Nigmatullin. The rendition shows the modern calendar dates. The reader will find a mass of information on the past of the Bulgars, their ancestors and neighbours, and, I hope, will gratefully honour our writers of the annals, and I.M.-K. Nigmatullin, who saved their compositions for the descendants.

And, at last, I want to mention that the launch of this work into the broad daylight would be impossible without the huge help of my parents G.-Kh. N. Nurutdinov and R.K.Nurutdinov, the editor of the “ Bulgar Il” bulletin R.Sh.Sharipov, and the secretaries of the club “Bulgars al-Djadid” R.Kh. Ahmetzyanov, F.Kh. Ahmetzyanov and R.M. Kadyrov, to whom I am unlimitedly grateful.

F. Nurutdinov

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