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Jahanotin Uvaysi is one of the most influential and prolific Uzbek poets of the 19th century, who is much admired and revered by the Uzbek people. Thanks to her sharp wit, as well as complex social and philosophical themes which she explored in her writing, Uvaysi became one of the most acclaimed poets in the Uzbek literature. She was born in 1781 in the town of Margilan (eastern Uzbekistan). Her father was a great admirer of literature and a bilingual poet, and her mother was a religious teacher. Following the death of her husband, Uvaysi and her two young children moved to Kokand, where she started to work as a literature teacher at the court of the Kokand khanate’s ruler Umar Khan. She became close friends with Umarkhan’s wife Nodira begim, who is regarded as one of the most outstanding Uzbek poets.
Uvaysi’s poetical works amount to some 15,000 verses written in the old Uzbek language. She was the first to introduce the idea of “chiston” – poem in the style of a riddle – into the Uzbek language poetry. Her intensely lyrical, graceful and soulful poems contained autobiographical narratives highly regarded for the realistic depiction of the era. Her poetry was greatly influenced by the teachings of Sufism (Islamic mysticism). Based on the verses of the Quran and Hadiths (sayings) of the Prophet Muhammad, Uvaysi’s poems promoted the spiritual values of love for life, human freedom, inner strength, friendship and generosity.
Her work gained widespread recognition and acclaim while she was still alive. Her lyrics were set to music and performed by famous hafiz singers. She is the author of epic poems “Prince Hassan” and “Prince Hussein,” united in the book entitled “Karbalaname”, which narrates the story of the tragic plight of the grandsons of the Prophet Muhammad. Her epic poem – “The Life of Muhammad-Ali-Khan” remained unfinished.
Following the conquest of Kokand by Bukhara Emir Nasrullah, Uvaysi returned to her home town of Margilan, where she lived until her death in 1846.
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