Template:Unreferenced stub The term mankurt in popular culture refers to a person who cannot recall his or her cultural roots and origin. The word comes from a Turkic myth popularized by kyrgyz writer Chinghiz Aitmatov in his novel The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years ("И дольше века длится день"). It is a philosophical tale about what can happen to people if they forget their motherland, language, and history.
The Turkic legend mentioned in the novel tells about a cruel way of making a mankurt of a captive man in the hopes that he will forget everything but basic activities and, thus, becomes an ideal slave of Djungar masters. The process involves a round of fresh raw hide from the neck of a camel, that would be planted as a sort of cap on the thoroughly shaven head of a captive. His hands as well his feet are tied and to prevent the victim to replace the cap by rubbing his head on the ground a large wooden stock is installed around his neck. That captive would be then simply left in desert for several days. Once the hide would start drying it would shrink and bind to the head, thus making a hoop and literally "squeezing" all sanity out of the man (usually). What is worse, the hair is not always able to grow through the camel's hide so it often curls back and would penetrate the scalp causing a pain beyond endurance. Usually that victim would perish from such torture or thirst. If the man happens to survive the torture, he would be recuperated and become like a dog to his master, not remembering anything from his past, his culture, even his own name or the name of his own mother. Completely removing the camel's hide from the scalp is not always possible and those mankurts (e.g. the son of Nayman-Ana in Aytmatov's novel) are so ashamed of having such a headgear that they are always wearing a cap, day and night and would not take it off for anything in the world.
This legend and the story around it are of central symbolic nature in Aitmatov's novel.
Today the word mankurt is often used in the former USSR (especially in Tatarstan and Bashkortostan and sometimes in newly independent republics) in a meaning of a person who shuns his or her native language and culture.
It is also used in Turkey in reference to the wholesale adoption of Western popular culture.