Winter 2021-2022 Newsletter on the Khakass project
The land of Khakassia in south Siberia is unique in many respects. It is rightfully considered the “archaeological Mecca” of Siberia, a land of rich history and ancient culture. More than 30,000 archeological remains have been preserved there. Khakassia is also called “the land of 1,000 lakes” and is well known for the healing properties of the mineral water in several of these lakes. Lake Tus (“salt” in Khakas) is even called “the Khakas Dead Sea.” As in the Dead Sea in Israel, you can float on its salty waters without sinking.
The contemporary Khakas people are descendants of the Yenisei Kyrgyz, who ruled Khakassia in the 7th century A.D. and were later conquered by Mongolian tribes. Today’s Khakas are neither Muslim, like the Kyrgyz of Central Asia, not Buddhist, like their neighbouring Tuvans, who were also dominated by Mongolia for part of their history...
A new Scripture portion in the Khakas language - the book of the prophet Jonah - has arrived in Abakan, the capital city of Khakassia in south Siberia.
According to the 2010 census, the Khakas language is spoken by 42,604 people. It belongs to the south Siberian group of the Turkic languages and is spoken mainly in the Republic of Khakassia and partially in Krasnoyarsk Region and Tuva.
After the release of the New Testament in Khakas in 2009 and its reprint with a parallel Russian translation in 2011, the Khakas project had a rather long break while preparing for the next stage - the translation of the Old Testament. Currently, Genesis, Exodus, Psalms, and the books of Habakkuk and Malachi are in the works.
Galina, a member of IBT’s Khakas Bible translation and audio recording team began her story: “In the past, this is how the Khakas funerals looked. The body of the deceased relative stayed at home, and his relatives called for a khaidzhi (singer of heroic ballads). The khaidzhi accompanied himself on a seven-stringed national musical instrument, called the chatkhan. This instrument is a matter of pride for the Khakas because we are the only Asian people who managed to preserve this instrument through the ages, though in antiquity it had been common for all Asians. So the khaidzhi sat down at the head of the deceased and started to sing heroic ballads to him or her in order to help the soul as it transitioned to the other world. People gathered around and listened attentively. When they heard something funny, everybody laughed; when they heard tragic episodes, they showed sympathy for the heroes of the ballad; in any case, the audience would always comment on the narrative in some way. Nobody was supposed to show grief and shed tears at the funeral because the departed was “returning to his true home...”
IBT staff in Moscow recently completed an almost month-long project to finish the audio recording of the New Testament in the Khakas language of south Siberia. The Gospels were recorded in Khakas in 2008. The full NT was published only in 2009, and this was the first opportunity to complete the recording of Acts through Revelation.