The Life History of Baiyz Apa
Judith Beyer and Zemfira Inogamova
Year of publication
This book records Baiyz Turdugulova’s own view of her life. Baiyz Apa (Kyrg. “Mother Baiyz”) is an elderly Kyrgyz woman born 1927 in northwestern Kyrgyzstan. Having been a member of her household for a full year, the anthropologist Judith Beyer profited enormously from Baiyz Apa’s knowledge and wisdom while investigating the Kyrgyz notion of salt (customary law) and the roles of elders in Kyrgyz society. With the help of Zemfira Inogamova, Dr. Beyer wrote down the many episodes and narratives from Baiyz Apa’s life, which the elderly woman had told her between 2005 and 2006. Even though it had started out as part of an anthropological research project, telling her life history quickly became Baiyz Apa’s personal project, and she now regards this book and the stories within as a bequest to her family. Moreover, it also serves as an extraordinary example of the lives of many Kyrgyz elders who have witnessed the beginning as well as the demise of the Soviet Union. The book consists of five sections: Childhood, School and War Times, Marriage and Family, Life in the Kolkhoz, and a concluding section in which she reflects on the years gone by. The Story is told in Baiyz Apa’s own words and structured in a chronological way according to her own suggestions.