Reflection Of National Image Of World In Modern Khakass Takhpakh


The paper describes specifics of reflection of the national image of the world of the Khakass people in the folk lyric song takhpakh. This lyrical song is, from time immemorial, one of the most popular folk song genres. In takhpakh, the initial rhyme, the unity of lines and parallelism are crucial. Takhpakh is improvised, and this quality has survived today. The art of takhpakh implies asking and answering questions of the partner in the aytys song contest. The structure and artistic features of takhpakh played an important role in development of national poetry in the early years of written literature development. In the works by Moses Bainov, a famous Khakass poet and other poets, the author takhpakh preserves the poetic basis of the folk takhpakh. The paper reveals the composition of artistic components in the author and folk texts of takhpakh that shows the national image of the world of the Khakass people. The main components of the national image of the world represent mythopoetics and are unconsciously reproduced in artistic images and motifs continuously used by the people and individual authors. The author of the paper concludes that takhpakh is the sustainable forms of folk art; it retains all the traditional traits and plays the role of one of the ethnocultural identification factors. The most important supporting universals in takhpakh are the earth , the river and closely related images of the steppe , mountains and the sky that reflect spatial and temporal ideas of the people.

Keywords: NationalworldKhakassfolklorepoetrytakhpakh


The study is of current relevance due to the lack of knowledge of the issue, and the interest of modern science in the issue of identifying the specifics of the national image of the world in the collective and author artistic creativity. The object of the study is the texts of modern folk takhpakh and written literature. The subject of the study is a set of interacting components of a literary text, which exhibit ethno-cultural specificity and interpret the national image of the world of the Khakass people.

Problem Statement

Identification of the features of the national image of the world as embodiment of ethnic mentality is important in studying the national specifics of the culture of a particular nation. The study of the ethnic identity of peoples in the age of globalization is important and interesting since people with a small population become most vulnerable in an era of global crisis, whose languages ​​and culture are on the verge of extinction. The Khakass people belong to small nations. The role of folk songs in the formation of national identity, the nature of the people and way of thinking cannot be overestimated. The words “song is the soul of the people” are true and irrefutable. Singing is always associated by people with emotional experiences, with lifestyle and events in an individual life and the people as a whole. The national image of the world is an inherent in a traditional folk song. Preserving the national language is also important. L.V. Ozolin considers folk genres of the Oroks and preservation of the language of small people and writes, "Academician A.P. Okladnikov once said prophetic words, "Esthetic perception of the world that was formed, strengthened and evolved over thousands of years, and moreover, over centuries – millennia should be preserved! This original unique aesthetic world should be protected – we, the people of this day, really need it." Therefore, it is so important to preserve folklore – and through it – the language of any, even the smallest people, as part of the aesthetic perception of the world, as part of the spiritual heritage, which, like a mosaic element, is embedded in the spiritual and material culture of the world community (Ozolinja, 2014).

Research Questions

Takhpakh is the most popular lyric song of the Khakass people. According to the famous folklorist V. E. Maynogasheva, this is "one of the most favorite and popular song genres of Khakass folklore" (Mainogasheva, 2000). The Khakass people are the Turkic-speaking people of Russia who live in southern Siberia. Khakass folklore includes large and small genres that have evolved over many centuries. The form of takhpakh is four-, eight- or twelve-line stanza. Takhpakh exhibits initial rhyme, alliteration, assonance and parallelism. These parameters are also important for the folklore poetry of other Turkic-speaking peoples. E.L. Tiron, who studied the folk songs of the Tuvinians, another Turkic people, notes, "The versification of Todzhin songs is characterized by such common Turkic patterns as syllabics, parallelism and initial rhyme" (Tiron, 2013). The features of traditional takhpakh are investigated in the studies by M.A. Ungvitskaya (Ungvitskaya, 1980) and V.E. Mainogasheva (Mainogasheva, 2000). In traditional society, every family performed takhpakh. Ttakhpakh was a special form of communication between spouses, close and distant relatives: what could not be said in simple conversation could be conveyed through takhpakh (Chankov, 2000). These songs exhibited artistic and musical talent of the people. A lot of takhpakhs performed by people have been recorded. M. Ungvitskaya marked that only in 1940 over a thousand of takhpakh texts were recorded (Ungvitskaya, 1980). Such famous scientists as V.V. Radlov and N.F. Katanov (Radlov, 1907) in the pre-revolutionary era and A.A. Kenel and L.S. Sheptaev in the Soviet era collected tahpakhs. The expeditions of Khakass Research Institute of Language, Literature and History of different years engaged in collecting folklore made a significant contribution to conservation and research of takhpakh. The materials of the competitions of narrators and takhpakhchi were published in local newspapers, almanacs and collections. These texts have become samples of traditional Khakass takhpakh. The fund is currently replenished with new takhpakhs. Thus, in 2018, the philologists of the institute conducted an expedition to 12 settlements of the Beisk District of Khakassia, in which indigenous people live compactly. In these villages, one can also find people born in 1920–1940, who are bearers of traditional Khakass folklore, translators of traditional knowledge, way of life of the native people. In this study, we are interested in both folk and author takhpakh texts, and the extent of the tradition preserved in modern texts. P.S. Shakhov, who explores the songs of the Siberian Mordovians, notes that "the materials of the last decade to the greatest extent demonstrate multi-layered folklore traditions" (Shakhov, 2018).

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to identify the features of the national image of the world in both folk and author texts of Khakass takhpakh through the analysis of a set of interacting components that feature ethno-cultural specifics.

Research Methods

The main research methods were cultural-historical and comparative-typological approaches employing linguistic-stylistic and genre-generic analysis.


Khakass takhpakh (literary and folk) contains ethnocultural images and motifs that reproduce the objectively existing national world. It is traditional to include objects of native nature in takhpakh. Thus, the чир-суғ ‘land-water’ denotes the homeland, where the concept of чир ‘land’ is related to both specific locality and homeland in general – "mother’s land" and "father’s land" – and the name of the river is typically related to it. A spatial object frequently used by poet M. Bainov is чазы ‘steppe’.

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The images of the white and green steppe, white and blue mountain peaks, repeated many times in takhpakh, express the features of the mythopoetic space and the world perception of the people. They are actively functioning in the literature. Thus, in the takhpakhs by poet M. R. Bainov, who befell the heights of the Khakass poetry ах чазы is an epoch in the history of the people, which implies mythical time:

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In takhpakh by M. R. Bainov, native land is designated as ада чирi ‘father’s land’, and ине чирi ‘mother’s land’. The story about one's origin is obligatory: this is a story about the Yenisei Kyrgyz, about the ancestors of the cattle-breeders who owned sheep flocks and herds of horses in the vast white steppe. Takhpakh exists in modern Khakass society, where ethnic identity and preservation of language and culture is one of the most crucial issues. Takhpakh can be found on the Internet–based social networks, where individual authors build their statements or a certain dispute in the form of takhpakh (for example, on Facebook, poet Sibdey Tom and the musician Oleg Chebodaev argue in the form of takhpakh about the state of the Khakass language, ethnicity, creativity in their native language, etc., using all the traditional forms and clichés to refer to the concepts of "homeland", "my river", "my mountain" and "my people"). Takhpakh continues to exist in the modern cultural space and contributes to expression of identity. Like any song takhpakh is associated with emotional experiences of man.

People said, "I sing about what I see." This is an important remark that characterizes takhpakh. In takhpakh, the ideological and thematic basis is changing, the traditional form is less susceptible to change, and artistic means and the cliche of the traditional takhpakh are preserved. This folk genre, as before, plays an important role in the culture of the Khakass people. Today takhpakh is performed on national holidays, family holidays and weddings, it can be heard from the stage during concerts of national ensembles and music group. They learn to perform takhpakh in individual schools. Aytys , the holiday-contest of takhpakhchi, is held annually, where the best singers compete in the mastery of takhpakh performance. However, today there are significantly less performers of takhpakh compared to the pre-Soviet and Soviet times. This is evidenced by the results of the folklore expedition, as well as by the number of participants of aytys observed in recent years (in 1970–1980, participants of aytys competed in singing for three days, today – one day). It should also be noted that the creative process of improvisation gradually dissapears: many singers perform takhpakh composed by them in beforehand and recorded on paper.

Identifying the specifics of the national image of the world, we studied various ethnocultural images and motifs that are most often found in Khakass takhpakh and reproducing the objectively existing national world: nature, life, religion and psychology of the people.

First of all, this is manifested by the presence of spatial representations of the people in the takhpakh text. It is well known that space is one of the most important categories in the perception of the world of any people, and each people chooses objects in space endowed with a special meaning. In takhpakh, it is traditional to mention objects of native nature: mountains, rivers, lakes, the steppe, the sky and images associated with these objects. These are the most stable, often repeated, especially distinguished and important images. For example, takhpakhs from the collection "Khakass folk takhpakhs" devoted to different topics (homeland, nature, work, love, marriage), most often reproduce the image of the earth-water and other images associated with them (mountain, taiga, steppe). In second place in frequency are images of sky and celestial bodies (the moon, the sun, stars, clouds, clouds, bird). For example: Адаӌаам чирi ағыр суғ / Father’s land is a fast-flowing river / Ағастығ тайға поладыр. / This is a taiga with trees. / Iӌеӌеем чирi игiр суғ / Mother's land is a winding river, / Iскiттiг тайға поладыр (Ungvitskaya, 1980). / This is a taiga with blackthorn. (Interlinear translation of the author of the paper). Land and water in takhpakh, as in Khakass folklore, are the most important "supportive elements of cosmogony of the people" (Kofman, 1997). These universals in Khakass idea are said to be inseparable and underlie all others. In Khakass, чир-суғ ‘land-water’ means ‘homeland’. The concept of чир ‘land’ in takhpakh is related both to a specific area (Abakan, Shira, Teya, Askiz, etc.) and to the homeland – ‘mother's land’, ‘father's land’, and the name of the river is typically related to it: Адам чирi ағыр Нин / Ағас арали чул аххан… (Father's land is a swift-flowing Ninya/ There is a stream among the trees...); Абам чирi ағыр Тööм / Арчын торғы часхан чир ос… (Father's land is a swift-flowing Teya / Like the earth covered with arshin silk...); Адам чирi ағыр Ағбанны / Ах порамнаң иртербiн… (Father’s land is a swift-flowing Abakan / On [my] white and grey horse I'll cross...); Инем чирi илбек чир / Ирбен öсчең чир полған… (Mother’s land is a spacious land / The land where Bogorodskaya grass grows...), etc.

A modern singer of takhpakh, Natalya Petrovna Chichinina (born in 1957, in the village of Koibaly), performs takhpakh about her native land; similar to the older generation, she actively uses expressions that have become some kind of cliche, formula: ах чазы ‘white steppe’, кöк чазы ‘green steppe', and others. N.P. Chichinina performs takhpakh, which are passed down through generations. Performing takhpakh, N.P. Chichinina retains takhpakh traditions that have been developing for several centuries. At the same time, the melodies of her songs are inherited from the ancestor. This is the functional and semantic basis for preservation of traditional folklore – the process of perception and reproduction with an assessment of the folklore significance. E.A. Kaminskaya notes that "the appeal to cultural heritage was one of the universal means of gaining self-sufficiency", and the ideas preserved in traditional folklore "contributed to the survival of the nation, people, and ethnic groups" (Kaminskaya, 2014).

The traditional folklore of the Khakass people is knowledge preserved by the people. Epic, which includes takhpakh, should not be underestimated. When developing wide steppe and high mountains, Khakasses achieved harmony with the land, accepted its coordinates, and became part of it, therefore they sing about what they see day after day. The sacral center – house – is located here, and herds of cows, horses and sheep are grazed. The same description of the steppe can be observed in other works of folk literature: in fairy tales, legends and heroic legends. For example, in the heroic legend Albynchi : Хадарғанда кöп малы Ах чазаа чайылып парған. / Ах одын оттап чöрiпчедедiр, / Кöк одын чiп чöрiпчедедiр "[His] numerous cattle scattered over white steppe. / It grazes on white grass [of the steppe], / Walks-and-eats green grass [in the steppe]". (Interlinear translation of the author of the paper).

When analyzing Khakass epic, we identified some repetitive images endowed with a special meaning: сын ‘mountain’, ‘ridge’, ‘pass’; хыр ‘elevation’, ‘mountain ridge’; тасхыл ‘high treeless mountain’, ‘chain of high mountains’; чазы/сöл ‘steppe’; талай суғ ‘great river’, ‘sea". The most frequently occurring image of a mountain, ridge or pass in Khakass legends is characterized as ах сын , ‘white mountain range’, ‘white pass’; хара сын ‘black mountain range’; арғалығ сын ‘ridge with a high crest’; тастығ сын ‘rocky ridge’; азырых сын ‘mountain range with branches’; тағ пöзiгi ‘the highest of [all] mountains’; пöгiнi чох сын ‘countless mountains/ridges’; кiлiң сын ‘glittering mountain’; ат асчаң арғалығ сын ‘mountain range through which horses [usually] descend’; ат аспас арғалығ сын ‘mountain range from which a horse does not descend’.

Spatial oppositions are clearly observed in the epic. The mountain serves as a boundary between ‘own’ and ‘alien’ space. There are uncertainty, danger and ‘alien’ territory behind the mountain, which sounds like аархы чир ‘far-away land’, ‘opposite land’ in Khakass and Shor. On the land behind the mountain/ridge, nature differs from that on the bogatyr's land. The underground world is opposed to mountains as the habitat of a sun man, and it is called in the epic чир чабызы ‘lowland’, ‘the lowest place in the Universe’. For example, Pora Khan in the legend Tyulgyu Xyzyl Alyp Hys ( Red Maiden Bogatyrsha ) climbs the white ridge and sees that ‘there is no forest for a beast to hide, and there is not even a streamlet for a bird to sit on’ (Tyulgyu Xyzyl Alyp Hys, 1951). The sun land of the bogatyr, a paradise earth, called кÿн сығызы чир ‘the land where the sun rises’ and the underground world called кÿн кiрiзi чир ‘the land of sunset’ are also contrasted.

The bogatyr's land is surrounded by mountains and mountain ranges – the sacral space designated by ах сын ‘mountain’, ах/кöк чазы ‘white/green steppe’, алтын сарчын ‘golden tethering post’, and ах öрге/иб ‘white palace/yurt’. These objects surround one of the most important supporting elements of cosmogony – чир-cуғ ‘homeland’. In the epic, the most important events take place on the mountain: a battle between the bogatyr and invaders, negotiations with invaders, competitions with invaders and the betrothed; from the mountain, the bogatyr observes not only his lands, people and cattle, but also the lands of other bogatyrs.

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The image of the mountain is certainly associated with numerous difficulties that the bogatyr overcomes, it can be impassable taiga and steep rocky ridges. The bogatyr sometimes passes through many ridges to finally reach the destination. For many peoples, the mountain along with the world tree is the archetype of the center of the Universe. Khakasses treat the mountain as a sacred object. V.E. Maynogasheva notes that in the Khakass epic Аi-Khuuchin , the maiden Ai-Charykh "is sent by God to live forever on the top of the Akh-syn mountain (White ridge) as a reward for saving the strength and mind of Ai-Khuuchin, and she shoots upwards as a swallow" (Maynogasheva, 2007). In the epic, тағ ‘mountain’ is almost always mentioned together with чазы ‘steppe’. Ах чазы and кöк чазы are an organic part of "own" space, most often the house, where cattle and lands of the bogatyr are found – чурт .

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Images of the steppe, mountains and rivers are elements of the ‘alien’ space, but at the same time they are an obstacle to the hero. For example, the image of the dry, barbed steppe, which came to folklore from shamanic mythology. And this steppe is characterized as lifeless: сöл чазы, хум чазы ‘desert’; саасхан тÿспес сарығ сöл, хусхун тÿспес хуба сöл ‘yellow steppe, on which a magpie does not go down, bare steppe, on which a crow does not sit’.

An important part of "own" space in the epic is also талай or тиңiс талай ‘great river’ and сÿттiг кöл ‘dairy lake’ as the foremother image that is designated as ах талай ‘white great river’, хара талай ‘black great river’, and кöк талай ‘blue great river’. The property of the bogatyr-khan with his people and cattle are necessarily located on the bank of the great river, river-sea or dairy lake. In the epic, the bogatyr-khans go to the white sea, wash themselves with white foam, with a huge soap or just with water to gain both strength and youth. For example, in the Khakass epic Red Maiden Bogatyrsha, Khan-Aryg, who cut the umbilical cord after her child was born, goes to wash toward ах талай as a penance for sins, since the umbilical cord should be cut by old women only. Water has a purificatory power. For example, in the Shor epic, bogatyrs are given the name on the bank of the great river-sea.

The fact that the legends include a great deal of images of these physical objects (mountains, steppes, rivers-seas) indicates the uniqueness of the spatial structure of the Khakass world, which embodied the peculiarities of the people's world outlook, the system of values and traditions. According to traditional ideas of Khakasses, the Universe consists of three worlds: the lower, the middle (or sun) and the upper. In the epic, this can be clearly observed. All the above-considered objects belong to the middle (sun) world and, as in the looking glass, can be found in the lower world, since the bogatyrs of the sun world can easily move to the lower world through чир тÿнÿгi ‘the passage to the underworld’, and the bogatyrs of the lower world can come to the middle world. Чир алты ‘the lower world’ refers to "alien" space. There is not a single Khakass legend that does not mention the bogatyrs, various demonic creatures of the lower world, who are the enemies of the bogatyrs from the middle world. In the other world, the rivers are black (or do not exist at all), black willows bloom, bogatyrs descend from the black ridge to the sandy steppe, a black tethering post is at the black palace-yurt, and a black or grey horse is tied to the tethering post. The sun and the moon are halved ( чамдых ай ‘halved moon’; чамдых кÿн ‘halved sun’). Narrators of folk tales do not often explain the peculiarities of this world, they simply say "the land with a different soil", and rivers "with other water", which is treated as "alien" space.

As we see it, numerous images of steppes, mountains, rivers-seas found in both the Khakass epic and takhpakh reflect the specificity of spatial representations of the people. The narrators attached particular importance to these objects and included their images in the legends that pass down through the generations. These images have become fundamental elements of the artistic awareness. Literature as a successor to the traditions of folklore cannot but reflect these fundamental concepts of spatial representations of the people. The novel deeply and panoramically reflects the way of life of the people. No doubt, both N.G. Domozhakov and K.T. Nerbyshev vividly showed their national environment, just as modern poets adopt the images and motifs of the traditional takhpakh. Therefore, Sibdey Tom, Gennady Kicheev and Oleg Chebodaev used the images of the native river, native mountain, white and green steppe, etc. in their works: ағыр Ис ‘winding [river] Yes’, игiр Ис ‘curved [river] Yes’, and толғалып аххан Ис суғ ‘Yes river that flows winding'.


In conclusion, we note that takhpakh is the most stable and actively functioning genre of Khakass folklore and literature. The images and motifs used in takhpakh by the people from time immemorial and in modern texts have a deep genetic connection with the cultural tradition. It can be concluded that the above-considered images and motifs of the national image of the world are genetically related to the mythological ideas of the people about the world and these images are a peculiar manifestation of the cultural unconscious in literature.


The publication was financially supported by the RFBR, project #18-012-00695/18-“a”.


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29 March 2019

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Semenovna, M. N. (2019). Reflection Of National Image Of World In Modern Khakass Takhpakh. In D. K. Bataev (Ed.), Social and Cultural Transformations in the Context of Modern Globalism, vol 58. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 618-626). Future Academy.