As some of you may know, for many years, I was obsessed with Thomas Mann's novel, The Magic Mountain. One of the unforgettable details of the novel was the obsession of Hans Castorp (the main character) with the elusive Clavdia Chauchat, who Mann describes repeatedly as having Kyrgyz eyes. This is, indeed, one of her defining features. "Kyrgyz eyes" were also a feature of an earlier breathless obsession in Castorp's life--a young boy who had many years before loaned young Hans a pencil on the school playground. So Mann echoes these eyes and these obsessions (even the pencil) throughout the novel. What I would give to have such literary skill . . .
At any rate, I have never before taken the time to find out what Kyrgyz eyes might look like, until now, when Kyrgyztan is in the news because of ethnic violence between the Kyrgyz and the Uzbek peoples. Google tells me that the woman and baby above are Kyrgyz. I have decided that these two at least somewhat represent what a set of Kyrgyz eyes look like, though I of course know that there would be no one standard set of Kyrgyz eyes. Here are some others--not smiling, as I think non-smiling eyes would be more what Mann had in mind.
I won't pretend to know anything about the Kyrgyz or the Uzbek people and their current troubles and conflicts. Commentators and reporters aren't completely clear on the "spark," though they say that it began with a fight between groups of young people from each of the ethnic groups. As is usually the case, political and economic issues lie at the core, and awkward and artificial lines between countries that go back to Stalin. These forces, I believe, are far more significant than actual hate between ethnic groups, but hate and violence are often the result. Followed by displaced people and extensive human misery. It is heartbreaking to see the photos of the people fleeing, children in their arms, all seeking safety and refuge, which will likely not be forthcoming.As I've listened to these stories on the news, one question I keep wishing to have answered is, "How can a Kyrgyz tell an Uzbek and vice versa?" Is it skin color, style of dress, neighborhoods they live in, EYES? Can you just tell right away? Here are some people who Google tells me are Uzbek.
I suppose there are some differences around the eyes. But what do you think?
And just for context, here's where Kyrgyztan is. I see it's northwest of China, so maybe that has something to do with the eyes?