A Collection of Proverbs and Wise Sayings in the Dungan Language
March 22, 2018

In 2014 the Institute for Bible Translation published the first translation of King Solomon's proverbs in the Dungan language. This book, compiled more than 2,500 years ago in Israel and now known to many peoples as part of the Holy Scriptures, teaches a proper attitude towards God and other people.

Whenever translators work on the book of Proverbs, they quite often discover parallels between the ancient proverbs and those in their own language. The Dungan language was no exception. F. Mashinkhayeva, who was involved in the IBT Dungan Bible translation project, spent many years collecting language material in her home village of Irdyk in the Issyk-Kul Oblast. The book Proverbs and Wise Sayings in the Dungan Language, now published by the Institute for Bible Translation, consists primarily of this collected material. But it also includes the material earlier collected by other authors and published under the following titles: Dungan Proverbs and Wise Sayings (compiled by H. Laakhynov, Bishkek, 1998); Dungan Proverbs, Wise Sayings and Riddles (compiled by R. Y. Yusurov, Frunze, 1984); Essays on Dungan Folklore (compiled by M. D. Savurov and M. M. Savurov, Tashkent, 2015).

The purpose of the current publication is to present to the reader the best proverbs and wise sayings from the compilations mentioned above. They exhibit the people's centuries-old reflections on life and paint a picture of the nation's character. They praise wisdom, kindness, hard work, honesty and generosity, and condemn folly, laziness, treachery and greed. Just like Solomon's proverbs, Dungan proverbs focus on wisdom and folly, labor and laziness, wealth and poverty. They also raise the question of what is true faith, hope and love, how to acquire and keep them in your heart.

At different times and in different places people face similar issues. The notions of good and evil do not have any particular nationality, and genuine wisdom does not age with time. This is the reason why so many peoples value proverbial sayings. We can suppose that some of the sayings found in the Proverbs and Wise Sayings were brought to the Dungans by travelling preachers who for centuries have been traversing the vast expanses of Asia telling stories about the ancient prophets, such as King Solomon himself. We will probably never know for sure, but what we do know is that the ancient wisdom found in the Dungan proverbs still carries weight today both in their lives and in the lives of their neighbors.

The illustrations for the book were provided by Dungan artist Khalida Shimova, who also did the illustrations for the book Proverbs of Solomon, as well as the Prophets series.

It is IBT’s hope that this publication will help Dungan readers become more closely acquainted with their own literary traditions.

IBT continues its work of translating the Holy Scriptures into the Dungan language. The illustrated Prophets series, which tells the stories of many prophets found in the Bible, is being prepared for publication. The first book in this series, a book about the prophet Noah, has already been published. This will soon followed by books about Abraham, Joseph and Moses.