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Date: 16/06/2016 

Manas and the Cid

Each country has its mythical national hero.

In Kyrgyzstan, it is Manas. In Spain, it is the Cid.

Manas is a giant epic divided into 3 parts. The first talks about the history of Manas, the hero. The second is about Semetey, his son, and the third one is about his grandson Seitek.

Manas has the particularity of being transmitted by oral tradition, which has an absolute merit, because it contains about half a million verses. That´s why it was recognized by UNESCO as patrimony of mankind.

Manas is a very serious issue for Kyrgyz people, despite no ensured evidence of his historical existence.


Oral narrators of Manas are called manaschi, and they are much appreciated. It takes several days to tell the whole poem. A very famous case is one of the great manaschi Sayakbai Karalaev. There are videos of his performance and his image appears on the 500 som banknote. His version is considered official. During the recital, all emotions are deeply lived and transmitted by the manaschi.

Nowadays, we share the joy of an extraordinary and promising manashi; the young Umet Doolotov, who is only 4 years old, has become famous because he is capable to retell about 500 verses of the poem.

In the case of Spain, the history of the noble knight Sir Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, mostly known by his nickname The Cid, was transmitted principally through the poem of Mio Cid. It has only 3700 verses in comparison to the enormous extended Manas epic, but its cultural impact is equivalent.

Poem of Mio Cid is also divided into 3 parts. The first one talks about his exile after a quarrel about honor with the king. The second one relates the wedding of his daughters after his conquests of several cities that he acceded to the kingdom of Spain. The third one is about the tragic history of the first marriage of his two daughters, Lady Elvira and Lady Sol, and the restitution of his honor when they marry the royal princes after a judgement presided by the king, in which the former marriages are declared null and void and the former husbands are punished.


Despite the difference of the stories, the parallelisms are amazing.

Both were conquerors, both had enormous physical strength and were generous.

Manas unified all Kyrgyz tribes and brought them back to their homeland. The Cid unified all separated lands and gave them to the Spanish people.

Their wife’s were also famous. Kanykei was the wife of Manas. Lady Jimena was the wife of the Cid.

Also, their horses have a strong impression in the collective memory - both Manas’ horse called Ak-Kula and the Cid’s horse called Babieca. The same thing is with their swords - two swords of the Cid, Tizona and Colada, and the sword of Manas, Narkesken.


Curiously both had a tragic death.

Enemies killed Manas because of envy. He was stabbed in the back with a poisoned dagger.

The Cid was killed on a battlefield. The legend tells that his men went back, they put his dead body upright on his horse, and charged him into the following attack on the enemy, thus, in winning the battle. His enemies thought he was immortal after seeing how he was riding again.

Where the reality ends, starts the myth.


Heroes, Myths
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