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Biography of Shokan Ualikhanov

Shokan Ualikhanov (1835-1865) is an outstanding Kazakh scientist-orientalist, a historian, an ethnographer, a geographer, a folklorist, a translator and a traveler. He was born in 1835 in the Kushmurun area not far from Kostanai. Shokan's childhood passed at the family estate of grandmother Aiganym in Syrymbet. The father of Shokan was Shyngys, the agha-sultan, his grandfather was Ualikhan. The great-grandfather of Shokan was Khan Abylai. At the age of twelve, Shokan enrolled to study at the Siberian Cadet Corps in Omsk.

In 1853, Shokan graduated from the Cadet Corps at the rank of cornet and joined as Adjutant of General-Governor of Steppes G. Gasfort. Young and precocious and educated Kazakh was seen by Russian intellectuals, by fate living in Omsk, writers and poets A. Mikov, F. Dostoevsky, V. Kurochkin, an orientalist K. Gutkovskii and others. In the service of the Governor-General, Shokan studied history, ethnography, literature, and culture of the people of Central Asia, traveled to Central Kazakhstan, Zhetysu, Tarbagatai, collected materials and wrote articles on the history of the steppe, the customs and traditions, religion of Kazakhs.

In the years 1856-57, Sh. Ualikhanov made research and ethnographic expedition to Zailiyskii Kyrgyzs and villages of Old Juz, in Kuldzhu, where he became acquainted with the history of Dzhungaria. In these visits, he wrote the famous "Essays of Dzhungaria», «Notes about Kirghizs». «On the genres of Kazakh Folk Poetry», «Diary of a trip to Issyk-Kul», «Legends of Kirghiz-Kaisak Orda» and other works, which have become a basis of a radically new view of the Kazakh people, their culture and literature.

These sketches and articles have been highly appreciated by Russian scientists. In 1857, Shokan became a full member of the Russian Geographical Society. In 1858-1859, he has made the most important thing in his short life journey to Kashgar. Under the name of the merchant Alimbaya, having shaved his head and changed appearance, Shokan entered in Kashgar with travellers, where he has lived for five months.

He brought from Kashgar many interesting statistical and historical data that have been published in the «Memoirs of the Russian Geographical Society» in two articles: «Essays of Dzhungaria» and «Description of Kashgar or Altyshaar». Altyshaar more correct «Altyshahar» that is, «Six Cities», in those days, so-called Eastern Turkestan. Over the short life, Shokan was able to write important works. His literary and scientific work consists of five volumes of bulk.