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Filling the Gaps

Najm al-Din Kaukabi Bukhari is an outstanding scientist who influenced the course of the musical science of the East. It turned out that this great historical figure is poorly known, with no translations of his treatises, and some manuscripts have become obsolete.

Member of the Union of Composers of Uzbekistan, head of the Maqom research group of the International Council for Traditional Culture, Doctor Aleksandr Jumayev decided to fill this gap. The book “Najm al-Din Kaukabi Bukhari: Poet, Musician, Scientist of the 15th – 16th Centuries. Life and Work (research and translations)” has come out with the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

What was the purpose to publish this book, and whom is it intended for?

“This is an academic edition, which can be interesting and useful for students learning the history of music of Central Asia of the late 15th – early 16th centuries. The book provides the most comprehensive information about Najm al-Din Kaukabi Bukhari. While working on it, I tried to clarify the complex, ambiguous issues related to his origin, music teachers, stay in Bukhara, religious confession and his death. I strived to create the most accurate picture of his life, music theory and aesthetic views, basing on the written sources of that time. I studied literature, which mentions the name of Kaukabi. For example, the first chapter is devoted to the study of his legacy in musicology and Oriental Studies of the 20th – 21st centuries. Unfortunately, all the literature about him consists of only recitals. Therefore, I considered all known cases of treatment to his legacy in our country, Tajikistan, Russia, Europe, Iran, the United States, then summarized them, revealed the achievements, and identified the main trends in the study of heritage of Kaukabi.”

What other aspects of the life and work of Najm al-Din Kaukabi Bukhari are reflected in the book?

“The book includes the main creative directions where he left his mark. I considered him not only as a musician and composer, but also as a poet. We managed to find his rubai, individual baits, gazelles, which are listed in the book in the original language and translated into Russian. Although, Alisher Navoi in his writings mentions Kaukabi as a poet and astronomer, unfortunately, I was not able to gather information about the latest activity of this many-sided person. I also tired to trace the genesis of his theoretical views. Kaukabi added Herat traditions into the Bukhara School of Maqom. He also influenced on a number of other related cultures. This is evident in the musical science of Iran and India. Especially popular are his poems related to music. They are of deep philosophical meaning. Some of his ideas are cited repeatedly in the treatises. Especially often are repeated the lines from his works ‘Kulliyat’ and ‘Masnavi.’

The book also provides a critical translation of these works and his famous ‘Treatise on Music.’ In my work I based on the four lists, two of them are from the Beruni Center of Oriental Manuscripts at the Tashkent State University and at the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the Russian Academy of Sciences, included in the appendix in the form of facsimile.”

How much time was required to prepare such a profound publication?

“I worked on a book about fifteen years, as two or three years are not enough for this work. It is necessary to overview the most number of sources. I worked with manuscripts in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Of course, it is very important that there is free access to the collection of sources of the Center of Oriental Manuscripts.”

You are the author of about two hundred scientific papers published worldwide. Is the book the first of its kind?

“Yes. I co-authored a section in the textbook “History of Music of Central Asia and Kazakhstan.” And this book I planned as a series of sources under the title “The written monuments of musical culture of Medieval Central Asia and Iran (research and translations).” Several of these books I have already finished. One of them is dedicated to the scientist, theologian Imam Fakhriddin Razi and his encyclopedia ‘Assembly of Science’, which also has a section about music. Research on Muhammad Nishapur and his small ‘Treatise on Music’ is ready as well. It describes the system of frets-pards that preceded Maqom in Khorasan and Bukhara. The book is also ready for print and about a scientist, philosopher of the 15th century Jaloliddin Davvani and study of mehtarlik. Mehtarlik is a tradition in Central Asia, when the musicians were united in special guild or a shop with their written charter. I studied the tradition thoroughly, the history of its origin, made my revised translation the charter of musicians with detailed comments. The work is also completed on Ato Jalol, a famous Bukhara singer, founder of the school of vocal art Shashmaqom. The publication of these books will create a more complete picture of the development of musical culture of Central Asia up to the present time.”




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