Development Of The Crimean Tatar Folklore Studies


The article studies oral folk art of the Crimean Tatars. The authors explore the factors that contributed to the Crimean Tatar folklore studies, draw parallels with the folklore of other Turkic peoples. The authors emphasize creative individuality of each author. This visualizes the genetic relationship between collecting and research activities of folklorists of previous and modern generations. The studies on this topic can be classified into three main areas: historical descriptive, conceptual and comparative. Currently, collection and popularization of oral-poetic art of the Crimean Tatar people, the study of its various genres are the main tasks of the Crimean Tatar folklorists. The episodes of fairy-tale texts are analyzed. The conclusions are based on the analysis of ancient tales, epos, legends and legends which can become an approach to further description of the Crimean Tatar mythology, identification of archetypical scenes that have formed the popular worldview since ancient times. The poetic world of the song genre is analyzed. These songs are of ancient origin. They stand out poetic elegance, picturesque metaphoricity. The epos of the Turkic peoples is a combination of poems and prose. The researchers distinguish between several genre-styles. It is necessary to take into account and introduce into the scientific circulation conclusions about a special role of fabulous, epic motifs in the worldview of the Crimean Tatars. The figurative picture of the world hidden in the folklore texts, connection of the plot with the myths about Umai-ana, geological cataclysms contribute to the understanding of the fairy-tale epos.

Keywords: FolkloreCrimean Tatarmythologyethnographytraditions


Modern Crimean Tatar folklore studies are under development. However, it is impossible to study the Crimean Tatar folklore without identification of development characteristics for folkloristic science. The works, essays, reviews by foreign and domestic historians on the development of folkloristic science in Crimea became available to researchers only in the 1980-90s. Fundamental works that make up the corps of Crimean Tatar folklore studies are works by Jamanakly and Usein (2008), Seferov (1997).

Problem Statement

The genre composition of the Crimean Tatar oral folk prose, poetic transformation of ancient mythological rituals that form some of the features of fairy tales have not been studied as an independent phenomenon. Development of principles of publication of folk-art works is important. Large textual and research work on the study of Crimean Tatar oral folk prose and poetry will contribute to the study of the genesis of functions of fairy-tale motifs, analysis and interpretation of framing-initial and final formulas of epic tales, historical interrelations of Crimean Tatar folklore with the folklore of other nations.

Research Questions

The studies on formation and development of folkloristic science in the Crimea can be divided into three stages. The first one involves collection and popularization of folk art samples (the end of 18th- the beginning of the 20th century). The scientific and artistic value of the material collected is one of the main sources of the literary language, history of the people and their dialects. The second stage involves a systematic study of the issues of oral-poetic art, elaboration of principles of folklore textology (1920–1940s). The works by Bodaninsky (1917, 1930) and others are important. The circle of these studies is wide, they cover almost all genres. The third stage involves research on the problems of the Crimean Tatar folklore studies (1970s till present).

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to describe formation and development of the Crimean Tatar folkloristic science.

Research Methods

Chronological and comparative historical research methods were used.


Dmitriev (1934, 1935), Radlov (1896), Samoilovich (1914), Filonenko (1926) contributed to the formation of the Crimean Tatar folklore. Samoilovich (1914) writes: The study of modern literature of Russian, and not only Russian, Muslims should be accompanied by the studies of those phenomena which influenced the Muslims, i.e. of Russian literature and Russian social thought (and in order to study the new Ottoman literature, it is necessary to get acquainted with the Western European life). The study of the folk art of the Turkic tribes requires special methods. The Crimea was always an object of study for Markov (1872). Ancient history, cultural world, traditions of the people were part of his life. Interest in the life and traditions of the people is reflected in the introduction to the first edition of “Sketches of Crimea”: “I first met the Crimea in early 1866. When you experience features of the region and come across a variety of its living elements, the region becomes native. I expressed my impressions about the new world – the Crimea – in a series of fragmentary essays. Now, when there are a lot of these essays, I saw that they present a fairly complete picture of the Crimea” (Markov, 1872, p. 73). Bernshtam (2005) wrote notes about life and culture of the Crimean Tatars of the late 19th - early 20th centuries. One of his notes describes the Crimean Tatar courtyard and dwelling: “A sheep’s head is attached to the column on the terrace. The skull serves as an expression of a certain sacred patronage towards the house ... The form of this veneration is totemism which is popular among the Crimean Tatars” (Bernshtam, 2005, p. 63).

Based on the well-known literature, one can remember a number of researchers who collected and studied the genres of the Crimean Tatar folklore. Dmitriev (1935) draws attention to the method of studying the Crimean Tatar dialects and folklore. Publishers have to “select well-known Crimean legends where social and moral ideas sound most fully” (Dmitriev, 1934, p. 32). "Tales, legends and traditions of the Crimea" (1930) by A.N. Konchevsky, "Samples of the folk literature of the northern Turkic (Turkish) tribes" (as cited in Radlov, 1896) are of great interest. It is impossible to ignore the book "Travel Guide to the Crimea" by Montadon (2011). It describes “ethnic and cultural palette, natural phenomena” (Montadon, 2011, pp. 54-57).

In his work “Crimean Tatar tongues” (1917), Samoilovich (1914) focuses on the conditions of existence and the nature of reflection of historical reality in languages. The material collected and presented in the work “Proverbs, Sayings and Omens of the Crimean Tatars” (Samoilovich, 1914) recreates the cultural atmosphere of the Crimea, makes it possible to argue that proverbs and sayings of various nations have much in common. Meanwhile, they have specific features, national peculiarities. This approach opens up prospects for a multifaceted study of paremic art of the people. Bodaninsky (1917) and Bodaninsky (1930) collected hundreds of samples of traditional folklore texts and descriptions of national holidays. In his work “The Mysteries of the Crimean Tatars”, Filonenko (1926) concludes that the Crimean Tatar riddles reflect originality of life and history of the people, specifics of the national language.

It is impossible to ignore one more work by Filonenko (1926) “Songs of the Crimean Tatars”. It formulates the theory of artistic, aesthetic elements, i.e. it describes the role of poetics in the song genre. Crimean Tatar scholars, writers, and musicians played an important role in developing Crimean folkloristic science. They carried out valuable research on the most important problems of oral folk art. Jamanakly (Jamanakly & Usein, 2008) is one of the leading folklorists of the pre-war Crimea. He is an author of works on the scientific classification of Crimean Tatar folklore: “Kırım Tatar Soviet folklore” (“Crimean Tatar Soviet folklore”), “Orta mektep ojalary ichyun folklore kostergich” (“Guidelines to folklore for secondary school teachers”, “Folklore vocalist,” “Methods of collecting folklore texts”, “Chynlar Maneler” (“Chastooshkas”). Modern specialists emphasized that Jamanakly was the first who drew attention to the works by Radlov (1896) and applied transcription to record and publish folklore works reflecting properties of the dialects of the Crimean Tatar language (Seferova, 2014, 2018). Impeccable mastery of the Arabic script allowed the scientist to record and analyze hundreds of fairy tales, songs, chastushkas. Jamanakly (Jamanakly & Usein, 2008) describes the state of the Crimean Tatar folklore, reveals its general patterns.

In the introductory article to the tale “Buyuk-Lambat Masaly”, Emirsuinova (2012) expresses his view on plot clutches and episodes of the fairy-tale text. In the article “The Archaic in the Crimean Tatar Tale of Kuchuk Oglan”, the author analyzes an ancient tale that “can become an approach to further studies on the Crimean Tatar mythology, identification of archetypical plots that have shaped the popular worldview since ancient times. The author writes: “It is high time to study originality of the fairy-tale genre, reveal archaic motives of its plot” (Emirsuinova, 2012, p. 45). This observation allows the researcher to identify the genre of the fairy tale about Kuchuk Oglan from Biyuk-Lambat as “heroic” fairy tale. She considers it as one of the rare textual evidence of the Crimean Tatar heroic fairy tale epos” (Emirsuinova, 2012). Seferov (1997) studies the same issue. He attempts to decipher mythological representations of our ancestors. The researcher identified the relation of traditional beginnings and final formulas of Crimean Tatar fairy tales with totemistic, mythological ideas of the people.

The materials presented in these studies suggest that it is necessary to take into account conclusions about a special role of fairy tales in the worldview of the Crimean Tatars. The figurative picture of the world hidden in the folklore texts, relationship of the plot with the myths about Umai-ana - Goddess of Fertility, the relics of the cult of animals and popular ideas about “geological cataclysms” contribute to the understanding of the fairy-tale epos (Seferov, 1997). In his work “The Magic Number Seven in the Crimean Tatar Folklore”, Kokieva (2013) analyzes comparative typological studies on the folklore of the peoples of Central Asia. She argues that “the study of semantics of the texts, clarification of their origin, functions can help understand the conceptual apparatus of popular wisdom, a code of spiritual culture” (Kokieva, 2013, p. 183).

The result of the research was the works on the comparative-typological study of epic tales (dastans) of Turkic-speaking peoples identifying mythological images of spells and sentences of Crimean Tatar children's folklore”, as well as studies on the analysis of folklore genres which are an approach to further description and identification of archetypical plots which have formed the popular worldview since ancient times.


The Crimean Tatar folklore is at the development stage. Textual and research works on the Crimean Tatar oral folk prose and poetry contribute to the study of genesis of functions of fairy-tale motifs, analysis and interpretation of framing-initial and final formulas of epic tales, historical interrelations of Crimean Tatar folklore with folklore of other nations.


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28 December 2019

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Seferova*, F., & Seferova, E. (2019). Development Of The Crimean Tatar Folklore Studies. In D. Karim-Sultanovich Bataev, S. Aidievich Gapurov, A. Dogievich Osmaev, V. Khumaidovich Akaev, L. Musaevna Idigova, M. Rukmanovich Ovhadov, A. Ruslanovich Salgiriev, & M. Muslamovna Betilmerzaeva (Eds.), Social and Cultural Transformations in the Context of Modern Globalism, vol 76. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 2813-2817). Future Academy.