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Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Bashkortostan State autonomous institution of science of the Republic of Bashkortostan Bashkir encyclopedia


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LAMENT is a genre of family-household ritual  folklore,  performed  when  a  person  is leaving the native house. It exists in folklore of many peoples. Its origin and functions are close to the genre of lamentation. There are wedding, funeral-commemoration L. connected with the ancient beliefs of peoples. Recruit L. appeared in the 18th c. Like the L. of brides, their main motif is separation and longing, inevitability of military service for a young man. Occasional (household) L. about fires, poor harvest, disease, loneliness etc., L. at seeing off a bride before her departure for a groom’s house are connected with the magic of crying. Ritual mourning means temporary death, transition of a bride from her family to another. According to function, poetic content and emotions there are L.-pondering, L.-appeal, L.-cursing. L.-pondering is dedicated to the female destiny, native country, nature, people which a bride has to leave behind, her pleas, wishes addressed to deities. L.-appeals contain a bride’s reproaches, insults to her relatives. It is based on the forms of ethnic theater. L.-cursing towards future relatives was ethnically believed to scare the evil powers. There is an original farewell ritual: a bride is covered with curtains, veil or a bright shawl with tassels. She continues L.-cursing, crying and complaining while covered. The ritual is performed even if a girl marries a man from her village.

Bashkirs, Russians, Tatars and other peoples have signs limiting the excessive grieving L. for the deceased: “the departed will lie wet”, “his soul will not be able to fly away”, “the departed will drown in your tears on the other world” etc. There were all kinds and forms of L. performance on the territory of Bashkortostan E.g., V. Kasimovskiy tells about L. in Russian settlements in Zlatoustovskiy district (current – Duvanskiy district) in the 1860’s: “The closest relative of the deceased cries over his coffin at funeral, the coffin is not transferred on a palanquin but by horse. The crying of relatives and other mourners, for example, beggars, do not include any laments, but only a desperate wail and scream, sometimes a whine”. According to the field materials, there was an institute of mourners, who were hired for the burial ritual by the relatives of the deceased in Russian settlements in the North-East of Bashkortostan up to the 1960’s. The expedition participants from the Institute of Art, Folklore and Ethnology n.a.

M.T. Rylskiy, National academy of science, Ukraine registered the lament of a bride and her mother in the Ukrainian settlements of Bashkortostan. Nowadays, people in Bashkortostan perform L. when a person dies and when they visit his grave even after many years. Thus, approx. 10 L. were registered in 1968 from D.A. Ivanova, the professional mourner in Luch village, Zianchurinskiy district, BASSR. These L. included one dedicated to a son who had died during the Great Patriotic War. L. is still performed at seeing off a bride from her parent’s house in Bashkir settlements of Kurganskaya region and Mechetlinskiy district, RB. Mostly it is women’s activity to mourn in daytime, often they call for professional mourners: senlyauses, podgolosnitsas, voplenitsas, mourners, etc. The poetry of L. is mostly improvisational, emotional, the performance is expressive. The melody of L. is based on a pentatonic, it is performed as a recitative. Some peoples, e.g. Mari, Chuvash have ethnic musical instrumental accompaniment for L.

L.A. Afanasyev, F.G. Galieva, I.E. Karpukhin, T.G. Minniyakhmetova, R.A. Sultangareyeva

Publication date: 21.06.2021
Last updated: 24.08.2021