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Love Epic: Gharip and Sanam of the Uygurs

This epic is the tales of the lovers -- Gharip and Sanam, widely known among the Uygur people. As the story goes, Sanam, daughter of King Abas, was betrothed to Gharip, son of the prime minister, before they were born. Since their childhood, Gharip and Sanam played together and studied together; hence a true love, pure and faithful, grew between them. But the king, Abas went back on the betrothal. Gharip, in spite of all the hardship and danger, secretly stole into the palace and disguised himself as a gardener. When chances came, Gharip and Sanam snuck out of the heavily guarded palace, eloping for the sake of their true love.

  The epic of Gharip and Sanam has several different versions among peoples of Uzbek, Turkmen, Azerbaijan and Turkey, etc, but they all evolved from the original tale popular in Central Asia.

  In the epic, King Abas was at first described as obstinate, self-opinionated and unfair, but at last he was repentant of his past deeds and changed into a "fair-minded monarch", which was a traditional theme of the Uygur literature between the 15th to 16th centuries.

  Among all the versions of Gharip and Sanam, the hand-written copy by Haji Yusuf in 1873-1874 in Kashi is comparatively complete, with 68 poems and songs in 100 pages, totaling 1,500 lines. There are other lithographic versions collected in the libraries of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regions Museum, Xinjiang University and Xinjiang Social Science Institute.

  Gharip and Sanam, according with the traditional style of Uygur poetry, possesses long literary piece, and is composed of poesy and prose in alternate forms. The Twelve Muqam, known as "mother of Uygur music," is also adopted in the epic.

  The epic of Gharip and Sanam sings for the pure and faithful love, reflecting the strong wish for happy life of the Uygur people. It has a very important status in the history of the Uygur Literature and is a magnificent gem in Chinese national literature treasure trove. At present there are three transcripts of the epic, and the epic has been more than once adapted into dramas, operas and films.