Across the steppes of Central Asia, modern bards still sing the tale of Gulaim, the teenage warrior who defended ancient clans from Eastern invaders with the help of her qyrq qyz, or 40 girls, Amazons of Turkic legend. Enduring for centuries in a male-dominated epic tradition, this powerful matriarchal narrative comes to full-throated life in the Aga Khan Music Initiative’s multimedia retelling, conceived and directed by internationally acclaimed Uzbek film and video artist Saodat Ismailova.
As the next generation of Turkic female poets and storytellers sing Gulaim’s legend–accompanying themselves on dutar (two-stringed lute), kyl-kiyak (two-stringed bowl fiddle), and jaw harp–Ismailova’s mesmerizing video, scored by acclaimed Tashkent-based composer Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky, weaves an emotional tapestry of legendary female power.
Scenography and costumes by Kamilla Kurmanbekova
Lighting design by Séverine Rième
Produced by Fairouz Nishanova and Theodore Levin