Akyns or aqyns (Kazakh: ақын, [ɑqə́n], Kyrgyz: акын, [ɑqɯ́n]; both transcribed as aqın or اقىن) are improvising poets and singers in the Kazakh and Kyrgyz cultures. Akyns are different from the zhiraus or manaschys, who are song performers or epic storytellers.
In aytys, akyns improvise in the form of a song-like recitative, usually to the accompaniment of a dombra (among Kazakhs) or a qomuz (among Kyrgyz). Considering the nomadic lifestyle and illiteracy of most of the rural population in Central Asia in pre-Soviet times, akyns played an important role in terms of expressing people's thoughts and feelings, exposing social vices, and glorifying heroes.
Modern akyns may also publish their original lyrics and poetry.
- Nurmakhan, Zhanash: Kazaktyn 5000 akyn-zhyrauy. Almaty 2008. ISBN 9965-742-70-7 (In Kazakh)
- "Alpamysh" at the Uysal-Walker Archive of Turkish Oral Narrative, Texas Tech University
- Central Asian Identity Under Russian Rule