Folklore is a part of the spiritual heritage of humanity and a powerful means of cultural independency and integrity of different peoples. It is also a base to create and develop independent art, professional art and literature, formulate ethnic self-awareness. According to the definition of governmental folklore protection experts, UNESCO (Paris, 1 March, 1985), folklore (in a wider sense as a part of traditional ethnic culture) is collective, tradition-based group and individual art expressing social and cultural independency of people; it is determined by hopes and expectations of society. Folklore patterns are transferred orally through imitation and other means. Folklore forms include language, ethnic oral literature, music, dances, games, mythology, rituals, customs, crafts, architecture and other arts.
From the scientific point of view, folklore is a socially determined developing form of people’s art, which can be characterized by a set of specific features (collectivity of the art process as a dialectic unity of individual and mass art, traditionalism, lack of fixed forms of art transition, variability, complex elements structure, a set of functions). Ethnic art is closely connected with labor activities of people, their household life and customs. It expresses the mentality of people and their cultural and spiritual collaboration with other peoples, who used to live or still live on the same or adjacent territory and have a common Motherland and destiny.
The republic of Bashkortostan is one of many other subjects of the Russian Federation which is the homeland for native Bashkir people and also for Russians, Tatars, Chuvashes, Maris, Udmurts, Latvians, etc. They have preserved their language, spiritual and material culture and folklore for a long time. According to the Soviet population census of 1989, there are more than 100 nationalities living in the republic; according to all-Russian censuses of 2002 – 118 nationalities including 12 ethnic groups; of 2010 – respectively, 160 and 13. 9 nationalities are estimated to include the majority of people (Bashkirs, Belarusians, Maris, Mordovians, Russians, Tatars, Udmurts, Ukrainians, Chuvashes) – more than 10 thousand people; 21 nationalities include more than 1 thousand people, other 44 nationalities and ethnic groups – approx. 10 people (13 nationalities are represented by the same person). Only the republic of Dagestan has a more diverse population.
Bashkortostan folklore is unique as it presents the culture of many nationalities but also it shows that the folklore has common arts, forms, genres, and moreover, plots and motives of epic literature of genetically related peoples. It shows the common background of people as a result of long cultural interaction and mutual influence of non-related peoples. Folklore heritage of Bashkirs, Russians, Tatars, Chuvashes, Maris, Mordovians, Udmurts and comparatively small peoples of Bashkortostan such as Germans, Kryashens, Jews, Kazakhs, Latvians has epic (epics, stories, heroic songs, dumas, ballads, dastans; fairytales, legends, lores, oral short stories, bylichkas), lyrical (songs, chastushkas, bayts, munazhats, takmaks), aphoristic (proverbs, idioms, lakaps, riddles), ritual and children folklore. Besides verbal (oral) art Bashkortostan peoples have musical and choreographic folklore (ethnic choreography), drama folklore (folklore theater), game folklore.