Introduction by Chingis Azydov, © 2022
Garja Muschajew made nine audio recordings for himself, which were later added to the Gordon Bok collection, during a festive dinner at his house in Ludwigsfeld, Germany. These are tracks 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 in the folder "Kalmyk GB#1". The recordings numbered 7 and 8 contain jöräl (well wishes) expressed by Garja Muschajew and his guests, while the recordings numbered 10, 12, 14 and 15 contain songs in the Kalmyk language performed by Garja Muschajew and other dinner participants. These songs are: "Between two yurt camps" [Hojír hotná hooryndə́], "Chestnut horse’s gallop" [Zeerdé mörnä́ güüdɪ́l], "Train pulling wagons" [Holvád čirsɪ́n pójezd], "Badma Bukhankov" [Buhankín Badým] (scroll down to see the transcribed and translated audio files).
Emigrant and poet
Garja Muschajew was born on 8 January 1925, in Godzhur, Kalmykia. He was the seventh child borne to the family of a poor Kalmyk nomad named Muushan Muukul. From a very young age, Garja was a curious and intelligent boy. In school, he excelled in reading and learning both the Kalmyk and Russian languages. By spending time with elderly Kalmyks, he learned songs from the Epic of Jangar and often participated in amateur concerts.
During World War II, Garja’s village was under German occupation. On the day the Germans retreated, Garja was forcefully taken away by Kalmyk collaborators, despite his mother’s protests. His mother then asked her brother, a soldier in the Soviet army, to find Garja and bring him home. The uncle found Garja in a weakened state. The uncle had to sacrifice his horse to feed and nurse Garja back to health. After some time, the uncle left Garja with some food, telling him that he (the uncle) needed to return to the Red Army and that he would be back soon.
Meanwhile, the Red Army was advancing, and there were rumours that they would kill anyone who had been under German occupation. Fearing for his life, Garja joined the Kalmyk refugees and German troops moving to the west. This is how Garja Muschajew ended up in Bavaria in camps for displaced persons (DP camps).
Whilst living in DP camps in Pfaffenhofen and Ingolstadt amongst Kalmyk refugees, Garja Muschajew was very active in preserving the Kalmyk language and culture. In 1947, Sandscha Zagadinow published two issues of Teegin Ochen [Steppe spark]. A few years later, he published another magazine called Kharulchi [The scout]. Both periodicals were aimed at Kalmyk youth living in the camps. Garja actively assisted with work on the journal and published many of his own poems. In his article "Vazhnoye delo" [The Important Matter], Garja discussed the problem of the loss of the Kalmyk language amongst young Kalmyks living in Europe who preferred to speak Russian, Serbian, French or German.
In 1952, when most of the Kalmyks from DP camps immigrated to the US, the remaining Kalmyks were moved to a camp in Schleissheim and then, in 1953, to Ludwigsfeld, Munich. There, Garja lived with his wife, Evgenia, his son, Dordschi and his daughter, Purma. The Muschajews would often have guests, some of whom played the harmonica or guitar, while Garja sang Kalmyk songs.
Garja Muschajew, a talented poet and one of the leaders of Kalmyk emigrants in Europe, passed away on 6 April 1966, after a prolonged battle with tuberculosis.
Based on the article "Garya Mukulovich Mushaev (1925–1966)" by Elena Remilev and documentary "Garya Mushaev. The Return" by Irina Dolgina.
The steppe wind
In 1995, Purma Muschajew (Garja’s daughter) collaborated with the Kalmyk poet Yegor Budzhalov to publish the book Teegin sal’kyn [The steppe wind]. The book consists of 35 poems, 4 songs, and 3 yöräl (well wishes) composed by Garja Muschajew, with an introduction by Y. Budzhalov and short articles by the writers Lidzhi Indzhiev and Sergei Menkeev. The entire book is written in the Kalmyk language.
In the book's abstract, it is mentioned that Garja Muschajew was a Kalmyk poet who was an expatriate and that his works were free from communist ideology. His poems were not written because he was hired to do so, but rather from his heart's calling. The central theme of Muschajew's poetry is a yearning for his beautiful homeland Kalmykia, his mother, and his beloved friends.
The book, entitled Муушан Һәрә. Теегин салькн. Шүлгүд, дуд, йөрәлмүд [Garya Mushaev – the steppe wind: poems, songs, well wishes], was published by Botkhyn publishing house in Elista, and consists of 80 pages. The ISBN for the book is 5-87024-056-5. It was released to celebrate what would have been Garja Muschajew’s 70th birthday, and sponsored by the village board in Yergeninskiy (Keke-Buluk).
Description/Transcription/Translation by © Chingis Azydov, 2022
TRAIN PULLING WAGONS
Description: Garja Muschajew sings a song about a son’s longing for his mother. The audio recording was made during a festive evening at his home in Ludwigsfeld, Munich, Germany. His wife, Evgenia, and other female guests join him in singing. Apparently, this song is a folk song, as it is not found in the book of songs and poetry The steppe wind, written by Garja Muschajew. However, as was often the case at that time, he might have altered or added certain lyrics to express his personal thoughts and feelings.
Cite as: Holvád čirsɪ́n pójezd – Train pulling wagons; performer: Garja Muschajew, interview: Garja Muschajew; transcription/translation/editor: Chingis Azydov, retrieved from www.oeaw.ac.at/VLACH, ID number: kalm1244DEA0001a.
CHESTNUT HORSE’S GALLOP
Description: Garja Muschajew sings a song about a painful separation from a beloved friend. The audio recording was made by him at his home in Ludwigsfeld, Munich, Germany. Apparently, this song is a folk song, as it is not found in the book of songs and poetry The steppe wind, written by Garja Muschajew. However, as was often the case at that time, he might have altered or added certain lyrics to express his personal thoughts and feelings.
Cite as: Zeerdé mörnä́ güüdɪ́l – Chestnut horse’s gallop; performer: Garja Muschajew, interview: Garja Muschajew; transcription/translation/editor: Chingis Azydov, retrieved from www.oeaw.ac.at/VLACH, ID number: kalm1244DEA0002a.
We would like to express our gratitude to Purma and Dordschi Muschajew for their kind help in the preparation of this publication.
Special thanks to Sanal Mandzhiev for providing us with digital copies of the book "Teegin sal'kyn" (Steppe wind).
Digital collection of Gordon Bok, folder "Khalmyk#1", audio recording 7, 8, 10, 12, 14 and 15.
Garya Mushaev – the steppe wind: poems, songs, well wishes [Муушан Һәрә. Теегин салькн. Шүлгүд, дуд, йөрәлмүд], 1995, Elista, Botkhyn publishing house, 80 P.
Remileva, Elena S. (2020): Garya Mukulovich Mushaev (1925-1966) [Гаря Мукулович Мушаев (1925–1966)], in: Lost caravans of the Kalmyk steppe. History overview of the Kalmyk emigration 1923–1952 [Пропавшие караваны Калмыцкой степи. Обзор истории Калмыцкой эмиграции 1923–1952 гг.], Moscow, p. 284–287