About Platon Oyunskiy, P.A. Oyunskiy literary museum

On April 17, 1970 a significant event took place in the cultural life of our republic – P.A. Oyunskiy’s Literary Museum, the first in Yakutia, was opened. Platon Alekseevich Oyunskiy, outstanding public man, statesman, international writer, scholar, consecrated his life to the good of his nation. His dynamic revolutionary, public, literary activities and scholarly endeavor became watershed event in the history of Yakutia.

Materials about life, activity and oeuvre of P.A. Oyunskiy, founder of Yakut soviet literature, occupy a central position in the exhibition of the museum. A lot of photographs, documents, manuscripts, original memorial items exhibited in the museum reveal writer’s versatile work.

Poet, publicist, scholar and public man Platon Alekseevich Oyunskiy (Sleptsov) was born on October 29 (November 10), 1893 in the 3rd Zhekhsogonskiy village, Boturusskiy region (now Tattinskiy region), Yakut province (oblast’). He was born in the illiterate peasant’s family.

Future poet was taught to respect for language and poetry of his nation. In winter evenings, surrounded by his family and neighbours, the boy listened to olonkho-tellers with acute fascination. And when he was nine, he started telling olonkho to his friends, afterwards he was invited by neighbours for olonkho-telling. “I possessed an extraordinary imaginative power, when I was a child, – wrote Oyunskiy. – Toyons (lords) invited me and enjoyed my stories during long winter nights”.

Hard-working and gifted young man fought through every hardship, entered Yakut Theological Normal Schoolin 1914 (when he was 21) and graduated in spring, 1917.

His pen name ‘Oyunskiy’ that took origin from the name of his kin ‘The kin of oyun (shaman)’ the poet started using as a last name in 1922. The Sleptsovs were poor family with many children. The poverty and illnesses always accompanied them. Three sisters and three brothers from eleven children died from tuberculosis.

In his memoirs the poet wrote about his father Aleksey Petrovich Sleptsov (nicknamed Khochugur) the following: “My father was a peasant pauper, a slave of the ground and cattle, a slave of toyons. My father couldn’t even work as a delivery man because he was too poor and had so many children”. The writer had fallen heir to his mother Eudoxia Petrovna Unarova’s love of literature, resolution and kind-heartedness. Platon was the first child, and his mother laid her hopes on him. The poet expressed all his filial love in the poem ‘On the grave of my mother Eudoxia’.

He started writing in 1917: by order of party he wrote a poem ‘Song of Labouring-man’ which was to be performed like La Marseillaise, also he translated revolutionary anthem ‘The Internationale’ into the Yakut language. ‘The Song of Liberty’ and ‘Let the Glory triumph!’ written later had become favourite mass revolutionary songs, and the author was concerned as the first Yakut revolutionary poet. Poems ‘Does it matter!’, ‘To the death of leader’, ‘Blessing of father’, ‘All power to the Soviet’, ‘Eagle’s precepts’ written in different years strengthen it. All these and many other revolutionary poems of P.A. Oyunskiy were related in content, mood and manner to the works of Dem’yan Bednyy, A. Bezymenskiy and other Soviet poets that were written during the revolution and the civil war. They were mostly agitational poems panegyrizing the revolution and flagellating enemies. P.A. Oyunskiy was also a master of lyric. Such lyric verses as ‘Sea’, ‘Crimea’, ‘Mimosa’, ‘Skylark sang’ and others were very famous. In lyric P.A. Oyunskiy used phonic repetitions and figures of speech (particularly, multiple epithets) of unique Yakut folksongs. P.A. Oyunskiy was a reformer of Yakut versification; he started using accurate rhythm, stanza and rhymes in poetry.

P.A. Oyunskiy, one of the institutors of the Soviet system in Yakutia, held key positions for a long time. He was a vice-chairman of the Union of Labour and Soldier Deputies in Yakutsk, head of the Soviet System Establishment Commission, chairman of Yakut Regional Revolutionary Committee, the first chairman of Yakut Central Electoral Commission, member of All-Russian Central Electoral Commission and Central Electoral Commission of USSR, deputy of the 1st Supreme Soviet of the USSR, the 10th party congress delegate, participant of the 1st USSR Writers Convention, and also was a chairman of the Union of Writers of Yakut ASSR.

Memoirs of Sardana Platonovna, Platon Oyunskiy’s daughter, on the television broadcast ‘Kem’ (‘Time’) of National broadcasting company ‘Sakha’.

Photo albums, homemade magazines published by student literary societies and given to Platon Oyunskiy demonstrate how much the youth loved the literature.

Native region of the writer was very important in every respect. It was significant for folk story-tellers, performers of national heroic epos olonkho, such as I.N. Vinokurov (Tabakhyrap), S.A. Savvin (Koyakhan), A.N. Kharlampyev (Kylachysap). Prominent representatives of Russian political exile who collected and studied Yakut folklore and language and who made fundamental research about material and spiritual culture of the Yakuts (honoured Academy Fellow E.K. Pekarskiy, ethnographers V.F. Troshanskiy, V.M. Ionov and others) lived in Boturusskiy region. Also a new breed of Yakut writers was born there.

P.A. Oyunskiy paid much attention to Yakut heroic epos olonkho that consisted of huge amount of similar but individual heroic legends that were wide-spread among people. They could be very long (olonkhos consisting of more than 2000 lines were known). In the olonkho there are many mythological characters, fabulous adventures, many marvelous metamorphoses. Olonkho society is clannish; there is almost no any class division. There are no state institutions or army, characters fight hand to hand, they are equipped by arches and arrows, swords, spears, clubs. It means that Yakut olonkhos ascend to antiquity, to the clan system.
For many years Oyunskiy worked over free poetic text of olonkho. One of more definitive variants of the olonkho ‘Nurgun Botur the Swift’ became a basis. After adding different episodes from other olonkhos, he wrote full poetic text that became great poetic achievement. It could be equivalent to the work of Elias Lönnrot who compiled ‘Kalevala’, the national epic of Finland.
Yakut writers continued Oyunskiy’s work on olonkho. Playwright D. Sivtsev (Omollon) wrote libretto for the first Yakut opera ‘Nurgun Botur’, and it scored a great success. V. Novikov (Kunnuk Urastyrov) did poetic adaptation of olonkho ‘Toyon Djagaryma Botur’. S. Vasilyev published few poetic olonkho for children.

Dramatic poem ‘Red shaman’ played a special part in P.A. Oyunskiy’s poetry. It was started in 1917 and finished in 1925. Two Yakut legends became a basis. First legend was about tribal chief Kudangsa who decided to become relatives with the evil spirits of the Upper world to save his tribe from starvation and death; and the second was about struggle between shaman called Dobun and the kin of famous riches the Orosins (in the poem – Oros-bay). According to this legend, the shaman killed the kin. The idea of man’s efforts to become relatives with the evil spirits and the fight between ministers of religion (sacrificers, shamans) and rich and powerful lords are common all over the world. ‘Red shaman’ was translated into Russian by Aleksey Boyarov and Yakut poet Pyotr Chernykh-Yakutskiy within the lifetime of the writer in 1928 and it was published as a partwork in 1930, but during the repression the books were taken away and destroyed… After rehabilitation of the writer ‘Red shaman’ translated by poet Valentin Korchagin was included into collection of P.A. Oyunskiy.

Personal possessions from Platon Oyunskiy’s library – a writing-desk, a bookcase with the books from his personal library, inkstand, books.

Furniture from Platon Oyunskiy’s library, writing-desk where he wrote his works.

Platon Oyunskiy’s personal possessions that his daughter Sardana Oyunskaya gave to the museum

P. Oyunskiy’s edition in old Latinized Yakut alphabet

Grigoriy Nikolaevich Savvinov, architect, civil engineer, folk craftsman from Suntarskiy region, the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), created ornament kumys service with deep carving consisting of 13 items. It is dedicated to the work of the Yakut literature founder and public man Platon Alekseevich Oyunskiy. Each of these items is perfect and wonders by delicacy of forms and proportions, delicate harmonious decoration of unique ornaments and multi-figure carving. Altogether they compose amazingly beautiful composition that is a genuine monument of ancient Sakha culture that impersonates the beauty, visions and feelings of its soul. Traditional types of Yakut wooden dishes: goblet-ymyia, chorons, matars, ladles, kytyia lay on the pedestals that widen out and diminished in the shape of a tethering-post. And tethering-posts are known to symbolize longevity and stability for Yakut people. It means the wealth and happiness base on a sound foundation.

P.A. Oyunskiy was a great translator. He translated works of Russian standard and Soviet writers such as A.S. Pushkin, I.A. Krylov, M.U. Lermontov, N.V. Gogol’, M. Gorky, A.I. Bezymenskiy and others into the Yakut language.
He left important memoirs describing true revolutionary events that he took part (‘Spring and summer of 1917’, ‘Days and years bygone’). He also wrote publicistic and linguistic works (about theory of Yakut versification, Yakut heroic epos olonkho).
P.A. Oyunskiy was a scholar (in 1935 he became a candidate of Philological Sciences), superintended the work of Yakut research organizations, and played a great role in developing Yakut orthography, scientific and political terminology.

He had a great versatile talent and had a great influence on the development of Yakut literature. The most part of Yakut writers of 20-40s were his students. Oyunskiy’s name – the name of a great writer, linguist and theorist of literature, statesman – will always stay in the memory of his nation.

Oyunskiy’s life was tragic. He died full of years. During the cult of personality he was arrested on accusations without merit and on December 31, 1939 he died from tuberculosis in prison.