Qunqasıım Baı

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Qunqasıım Baı
Toq Ata
 Date: 13- Şildü, Ätiş Jılı 1884
(13th June 1884)
 Place: Issıq, Kırğızstan
 Date: 27- Aqpan, Yılan Jılı 1953
(27th February 1954)
 Place: Bişkek, Kırğızstan
Profession: Engineer/Scientist,
Relgious Affiliation: Assyrian Church

Qunqasıım Mııras-ulı Baı was a Turkestani scientist/engineer and diplomat best remembered for his contributions to the development of wind power. An ethnic Kırğız, he was raised in a yurt on the lands around Issıq, achieving his maturity in the heady revolutionary days directly preceding the outbreak of the Basmaçı Revolt. Despite his rustic, nomadic background, Qunqasıım was an intellectual of high repute, becoming one of the proponents of linguistic and educational reform alongside other figures better known for that contribution.

Qunqasıım's particular genius, however, lay in other areas: he was a linguist, and also very good at figuring out how things worked. It was this that would provide the impetus for his contribution to both world science and engineering, and Turkestani life. In his home country, he is still known as Toq Ata ("Father of Electricity").

In the early days of the Qurultaı administration, his linguistic skills made him a natural choice as Turkestan's first representative at the League of Nations. Qunqasıım Baı, however, was a poor diplomat apart from this; the business of international negotiations did not interest him, and his thoughts frequently wandered to the numerous engineering toys that he began to collect, tinker with and modify.

On a trip to the Batavian Kingdom in 1926, he had his first encounter with windmills, and the concept fascinated him. Coming as he did from the windswept Central Asian steppes and mountains, he saw immediate application in his homeland, but beyond that, his agile mind began to leap ahead and reach for new possibilities. "If the wind can be made to turn a mill," he reasoned, "there is no reason it could not instead turn something else, such as one of these new electrical generator coils." Experimenting for most of the next two years, he produced a wind generator that was small enough to be portable on a camel or horse, robust enough to handle moderately strong winds, and light enough that lighter breezes would also turn the coil, and wrote a long, highly detailed letter home to the Qurultaı, explaining his idea, his experiments, and the potential for his home country.

Needless to say, most of the Qurultaı did not understand his ideas. Ämirät Bardaysan-ulı Bii, tribal leader of the Kırğız, his distant relative (and Enver of the Qurultaı assembly at the time), wrote back to him on behalf of the assembly and told him to concentrate on his job of diplomacy "without being led astray by worthless foreign ideas that no-one can understand".

Shamed by his lord and elder relative's rebuke, but unable to let go of the potential good his ideas could bring to the people of Turkestan, Qunqasıım Baı continued his experiments in secret, and began planning a private demonstration for Ämirät Bii, to try to convince him of the worth of wind power.

In 1932, he resigned his post as envoy to the League and came home to set up his wind power demonstration, satisfied that he had a workable prototype. With him, he brought his prototype, his notes, and a large number of light bulbs with which to demonstrate his invention.

That year, the Qurultaı met in the administrative headquarters of the Zoroastrian religion in Bişkek, and Qunqasıım Baı received permission from the dastur Qayrat Aardaa-ulı to hold his demonstration there for the whole Qurultaı.

For an Assyrian Christian to receive permission from the Zoroastrian hierarchy to hold any kind of demonstration in a Zoroastrian temple complex was highly unusual, and Qunqasıım Baı resolved to make the most of it. Rigging an array of light bulbs through the chamber set aside for the Qurultaı assembly's meetings, he set his prototype turbine on the roof and let it work. Many of the Qurultaı had never seen electric or gas-fired artificial lights before, and were highly impressed. The ranking Täņriist shaman was fascinated by the idea of power and light coming from the winds, and declared it a sacred mystery, beginning the ongoing relationship in Turkestan between Tengriism and wind power.

Unfortunately, he had not taken into account the strength of some of the winds of the Kırğız Ala Tau mountains, and though his light bulbs burned quite incandescently for a while, the primitive circuit provided them with too much current to let them last, and several of them exploded dramatically over the first couple of days. After one explosion narrowly missed showering Qayrat Aardaa-ulı Dästür in glass fragments, Qunqasıım Baı was forced to disconnect his device, but most still deemed the demonstration a great success.

With Chinese help, the Turkestanis learned more about electricity and circuits, and a Qurultaı working group was established to fine-tune and develop his idea. Even today, wind turbines can be seen on almost every yurt in the country, from the mountains of Kırğızstan to the deserts of Türkümänistan, though nowadays most yurts are only used as summer houses, and just about all settled accommodations are wired into the national power grid.

Logo of the Toq Cıfır Power Co.

Toq Ata's first wind turbine was the ancestor of a thriving industry in Turkestan, which today includes the largest wind farm in the world on the Batpaq Dala steppe, the "Jorğataı Field", including the famous Wind Horse's Tail array. Indeed, the largest power company in Turkestan, Toq Cıfır, is primarily a wind-power electricity provider.