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Ilyas Zhansugurov Literary Museum

A few metres away, at the corner of Tauelsizdik and Abai streets, sits the Ilyas Zhansugurov Literary Museum. The museum, housed in a merchant's house dating from 1907, an elegant green and white-painted wooden building in front of the Zhetisu Economic Institute, chronicles the life and work of the poet Zhansugurov, who was born in Almaty Region. It was opened in 1984 to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the poet's birth. There is a photograph of Dinmuhammed Kunaev, then First Secretary of the Kazakhstan Communist Party, attending the inauguration, accompanied by Nursultan Nazarbaev. The museum's central corridor is focused on a bust of Zhansugurov at the far wall, set against a backdrop of a sunset across which the silhouettes of birds fly.

The displays chronicle Zhansugurov's childhood, with a model of his wooden-walled school, known as Mamaniya since it was run by three brothers named Mamanov. His early career as a teacher is described, followed by his study of journalism in Moscow. On his return he worked on a Kazakh-language newspaper in Kyzylorda. His somewhat hectic personal life is also covered. Zhansugurov divorced his first wife. His second died in childbirth. He met his third wife in Kyzylorda, but parted from her in favour of the fourth, Fatima. His poetry is described, including Kulager, a paean to Kazakh nomadism, and there are copies of the books he wrote for children. He translated Pushkin and Lermontov into Kazakh. A photograph shows him meeting Maksim Gorky during a visit to Moscow in 1934. A painting of Zhansugurov shows the poet swathed in white furs. His desk, typewriter and battered old coat are also on display.

While working in Almaty he was arrested in 1937 as an enemy of the people. In February 1938, he was executed. There are copies of the bureaucratic paperwork related to his arrest and execution. There are copies too of letters written by his wife Fatima in a desperate search for information about her husband. She was only informed in 1957 of his fate. Following Zhansugurov's rehabilitation, his life and work were once again celebrated, and there are displays about the commemoration of various anniversaries of his birth as well as photographs of the capital of the district in which he was born, northeast of Taldykorgan, which now bears the name of Zhansugurov.