Song Genre Of The Dargins’ Traditional Folklore: Ideologic, Aesthetic And Artistic Distinctness


The article examines the main genre varieties of song folklore of the Dargins – one of the peoples of Dagestan, which includes such ethnic groups as: Akushins, Kaitags, Kubachins, Mekeghins, Tsudakhars, etc. Oral folk art of each ethnic group brings its own unique features into the national folklore. The purpose of this article is to show the genre diversity of the Dargins' song folklore, its national specifics, to reveal the artistic originality and forms of existence. The genre composition of the Dargins' song folklore is extremely rich and diverse. The paper considers such genres of song lyrics that are most famous and widespread among all ethnic groups of Dargin, as calendar-ritual poetry (these are mainly spell songs, associated with the ritual of invoking the rain and the sun, magical actions and rituals); family and household poetry (these are wedding songs accompanying wedding rituals, crying and lamentations performed during the funeral ritual on the occasion of the loss of a loved one; ballad songs (related to epic poetry); as well as love poetry, the most developed and widespread variety song lyrics of the Dargins, characterized by its genre specificity, expressed in the use of a special compositional form – quatrains (khabkubs). The poetic skill of the Dargin people is most clearly manifested in the lyrics. The song lyrics of the Dargins are rich in their poetic techniques – pictorial and expressive means: symbols, comparisons, personification, metaphor, techniques of artistic parallelism.

Keywords: Dargin folklore, song lyrics, artistic specificity


Dargin folklore is one of the areas of the richest traditional folklore of the peoples of Dagestan, a unique region of Russia both in terms of ethnic and linguistic diversity and, to a large extent, the community of ethnically distinctive features in culture. These peoples are carriers of the Iberian-Caucasian, Turkic and Indo-European languages, while the mountain peoples of Dagestan have significant linguistic differences from each other. Each separately taken language is also divided into dialects and parlances; there are even single-aul languages (Adjiev et al., 2018). Dargin folklore is characterized by a variety of ethnic groups that make it up. These are Akushins, Kaytags, Kubachians, Mekeghians, Tsudakhars, etc.

In the system of genres of oral-poetic creativity of the Dargins, both poetic and prose genres definitely differ. Each of these areas is characterized by its own genre characteristics, its own system of images, artistic methods and means, as well as stylistic originality.

Problem Statement

This article makes an attempt to consider the genre diversity of Dargin traditional poetic folklore, to show the forms of existence of specific genres, to determine their ideological, aesthetic and artistic content, to identify their evolution and transformation, to characterize poetics.

Research Questions

Ritual and family poetry

The genre composition of the traditional Dargin folklore is rich and diverse. One of the vast areas of oral and poetic creativity of the Dargins is folk poetry, which includes various genres of folk lyrics: ritual poetry; family and household (wedding and funeral ritual poetry); non-ritual lyrics (love songs, children's song folklore); epic poetry (heroic-historical and historical songs and ballads).

Ritual poetry belongs to the oldest genres of folklore, it is based on magical actions associated with natural phenomena – with the call of rain and sun. By magical actions the mountaineers tried to influence the phenomena of nature, almost in all Dargin villages from ancient times there was a rite of calling rain with the help of a stuffed animal – a doll that was made by women. Mostly young women and children gathered in a certain place and sang incantations: "May Allah have mercy, / May the weather be clear ... / May the earth dry up like salt!" (Abakarova & Alieva, 1999). It is characteristic that in many Dargin villages the doll's face was supposed to resemble the sun, the doll was tied with a red scarf, the color of which was associated with the red sun.

Among the Dargins, like many peoples of the North Caucasus, spell songs are also directed against such a natural phenomenon as fog, which was often an obstacle in agricultural work. Mist is addressed with spell songs such as: “Hey fog, hey fog! There's a thief in your house! / And in front of the house – azhdaha, / The wife gave birth to a child, / The villagers want to steal it ... / Leave quickly! " (Abakarova & Alieva, 1999). “Song spells, – writes Anikin (1970), – merged with magic that protects against hostile forces, as well as with such magic, which, in the opinion of people, contributed to the achievement of material prosperity and good luck in business” (p. 6).

The holiday of the first furrow is one of the most widespread holidays in the North Caucasus, which was everywhere accompanied by a certain ritual, magical actions and, as a rule, chants, which were also of an incantatory nature: “Let there be a harvest! / Let the earth be saturated with heavenly moisture, / Let there be mutual understanding between people ...” (Abakarova & Alieva, 1999). Such songs were addressed to the Almighty with a request to help – to send down rain in dry weather, and the sun in rainy weather, in order to save the crops, preserve the harvest, etc.

Wedding poetry occupies a special place in ritual lyrics. It should be noted that the wedding ceremony was more common for all the peoples of Dagestan, it consisted of three parts: conspiracy, matchmaking and the wedding itself, accompanied by songs, dances and all kinds of entertainment. In the wedding ceremony, a special place was given to the song, they conspired with it, matchmaking and the wedding itself. In the cycle of songs related to matchmaking, the entire song ritual is associated with magical elements, in which the expression of wishes to the bride played an important role: so that “her leg is light”, so that she “brings only joy to the groom’s house”, so that she calls the groom’s parents “ a mother and a “father,” so that she “fell in love with all his relatives,” so that she “could not take anything out of the house,” but only “bring into the house,” etc. (Abakarova & Alieva, 1999).

Wedding ritual poetry has been the subject of research by many Dagestan researchers (Adzhiev, 2005; Ganieva, 2004; Ibragimova, 2012; Khaibullaev, 2018; Kurbanov, 1977; Magomedov, 1983; Yusupov, 2000). Their works were first to characterize lyric genres in oral and poetic creativity of Avars, Lezgins, Kumyks, Tabasarans, Dargins, Rutuls, Aguls, Tsakhurs and other peoples of Dagestan. They distinguished the peculiarities of their genre system, poetic originality, national-specific features.

Dagestan scientists (Aliev, 1953; Bulatova, 2000; Gadzhieva, 1959; Ichilov, 1967) investigated the problems of family life and marriage of the peoples of Dagestan from the point of view of ethnographic data. They described in detail the wedding ceremonies and accompanying customs.

Despite their local characteristics, all of them are mainly of a general Dagestan character. For example, among the Dargins, the move of the bride to the groom's house was considered one of the central elements of the wedding celebration. It was accompanied mainly by great songs, which were sung throughout the farewell of the bride to the groom's house. They praised the bride, groom, their parents, all relatives from the side of the bride and groom. The groom's side went out to meet those who brought the bride, with songs, carrying torches, comic songs were often performed, competitions were held to see who would sing whom. Among the Kumyks, the wedding took place as a theatrical performance with scenes, with the participation of such characters as the "khan" ("shah") of the wedding, the heralds (chaushi), the executioner, the black people (kyara khalqi). The wedding guests, who played the role of “common herd”, had to meekly fulfill the will of the "khan".

At the weddings of many peoples of Dagestan, jesters performed. For instance, in the Laksky region, in the village of Hoolisma, one of the jesters brought a donkey to the wedding in dark glasses, a hat with holes, a torn dress, with a bow on the tail. Under the general laughter, the jester painted donkey’s lips with lipstick, powdered his face, etc. (From the message of Kh.M. Khalilov). In the village of Kubachi of the Dakhadayevsky district, jesters (palturti) staged all sorts of performances, comic scenes and with their comic antics, portraying the groom and chasing one girl then another and amused the people. With the loss of individual wedding episodes or their reduction, many wedding events and accompanying songs ceased to be performed. For example, songs associated with certain ritual magic relics – belief in corruption, sorcerers and amulets – have disappeared.

While in the early songs of the Dargins, the marriage union was often presented as a kind of trade deal, where it was a question of buying and selling a bride ("... Let anyone who wants to buy me," is sung in one of the songs), then in a number of modern songs this motive is rearranged to a new harmony: "... I am cheerful, cheerful, / With a diploma in my hands I am free, / Having become a doctor, I am proud ..." (Abakarova & Alieva, 1999).

Over time, many wedding songs, having lost connection with their original rituals, began to be performed as lyric songs of a love nature, they sound good wishes, which were of great importance in the life of the Dargins. The peculiarity of such songs is the glorification of the beauty of the bride and the courage of the groom, they sound the wish for happiness, well-being, prosperity, so that the house is full of children's laughter. The most common wishes are for young families to have boys – courageous and strong, like their father – and girls, as beautiful and house-proud as their mother.

In the song folklore of the Dargins, a special place belongs to the genre of lamentations. The study of lamentations was paid attention to by Russian pre-revolutionary researchers. Subsequently, lamentations were the object of attention in the works of famous Russian folklorists (Azadovsky, 1960; Anikin, 2001; Chistova, 1960; Smirnov, 1920;). They examined the nature and content of the funeral rite and associated lamentations, their motives and functional features. They also analyzed the main types and forms of lamentations, correlated with the traditional worldview basis.

Independent sections are also devoted to lamentations in a series of national essays on oral and poetic creativity: Avars (Khalidova, 2004), Dargins (Abakarova & Alieva, 1999), Kumykov (Adzhiev, 2005), Laktsev (Khalilov, 2004), Lezgin (Ganieva, 2004), Tabasarans (Kurbanov, 1996), as well as small peoples of Rutuls, Aguls, Tsakhurs (Ibragimova, 2018). A separate section entitled "Poetry of Sorrow" presents funeral laments in the collective work "Traditional folklore of the peoples of Dagestan" (Traditional folklore of the peoples of Dagestan, 1991).

The laments of the Dargins, like other peoples of Dagestan, relate to funeral and ritual poetry as an element of a funeral ritual; they are performed by women during the funeral rite. Often, special mourners are also invited who mourn the deceased using techniques of artistic imagery and expressiveness. Such lamentations are striking in the degree of their emotionality. Among the Dargins, like many other peoples of Dagestan, lamentations are thematically subdivided into the following groups: lamentations over the death of a mother, father, son, daughter, and also other close relatives. Particularly expressive are lamentations about the death of a tragically deceased young son, or a girl who committed suicide because of unhappy love, etc. Such lamentations are full of grief, tragedy, and dramatic motives. For example, a mother, mourning her young son, who died untimely, laments: “... Why did you leave me, my dear son, my dear blood! / The ash in your hearth has not yet cooled down ... / Your mother is still alive, and how can she bury her son now?.. / How can she live after that!.. / It would be better if I died instead of you!" And to the depths of her soul, her crying sounds exciting, in which there is everything: tears, pain and the bitterness of loss. The unhappy mother seeks consolation in the fact that, hoping to see him at least in a dream, to hug his head to her chest. She believes that someday she will meet him in another life and ask him how he lives there ... (From the personal archive of F.A. Alieva).

Lyric poetry of the Dargins, ballads

Lyric poetry, inextricably linked with life, everyday life, customs, psychology and the outlook of the people, occupies a significant place among the wide variety of song genres of Dargin folk lyrics. The lyrical song, established since time immemorial associated with the labor process of the people, accompanied a person at all stages of his life, absorbing their age-old wisdom, knowledge, life and practical experience. This is what determines its aesthetic value, cognitive value, great thematic diversity, richness of content, artistic techniques and means.

In the lyric poetry of the Dargins, love songs, heroic, satirical songs, thought songs of philosophical content, songs of otkhodniks, etc. are distinguished. Each of these varieties is characterized by a special poetic form, composition and characteristic techniques of artistic means. The most common type of lyric song is the quatrains – khabkubs – which are characterized by brevity and laconic form, capacity of thought, due to which they are aphoristic and philosophical in nature. They contain deep philosophical thoughts and reflections, logical conclusions, expressed through poetic imagery and sharpness of language. For example: "In this unjust world there is only one consolation: / That the rich and the poor lie in the same cemetery." Or in another khabkub, where it is about the disorder of the world, about hatred and love, about heroism and cowardice: "For some, this world is spacious, / Like the upper reaches of the fields for foxes, / For others, it burns the heart, / Like salt burns the heart of a falcon" (Abakarova & Alieva, 1999). Love lyric poetry is perhaps the most developed area of the Dargins' song lyrics. In the folklore of the mountaineers, it occupies a leading place due to such characteristic features as the depth and brightness of images, their high poetry, which contributes to the expressiveness of thoughts and feelings.

In the love poetry of the Dargins, as in the poetry of other peoples of Dagestan, the technique of artistic parallelism is often used in which contrasts and contrasts are given. Especially often there are oppositions of the hero's state of mind to natural phenomena, fog, rain, mountain flowers, birds soaring high in the sky, a serene falcon, etc., for example: “Fog will rise from the gorge, / Do not think that it is fog, / These are my sighs / Since I fell in love! " Or: "If it rains from heaven, / Do not think that it is rain, / These are my tears pouring from longing for you!" (Abakarova & Alieva, 1999).

For the love lyrics of the Dargins, poetic symbols, metaphors, comparisons are very characteristic. So, the girl is compared to a "mountain flower" that grows high in the mountains and it is not easy to pick it, with a "ray of the rising sun", with "green juicy grass", her radiant beauty "like the sun illuminates everything around", she walks like a "partridge", etc.

In the song folklore of the Dargins, ballads and ballad songs hold a special place as the most developed and widespread genre of epic poetry. The ballad is characterized by stable genre signs: drama and tragedy. Almost all ballads in Dargin folklore are characterized by attention to the individual fate of a person, to his personal experiences associated with the injustice of the social system, giving rise to dramatic situations.

Thematically, the following plot groups are distinguished in the ballads: social and domestic ballads, family and domestic ballads and love ones. Each of these selected groups is characterized by the stability of themes, motives, images and plot construction. The most extensive group is made up of ballads on family and household themes. Their main content is represented by "narratives about dramatic individual destinies, about family collisions caused by social and everyday circumstances" (Putilov, 1965, p. 24). Most of the Dargin family and household ballads reflected the customs, mores, psychology, worldview, contradictions characteristic of the feudal era. So, for example, in the ballads "Murtuzali and Mesedu", "Sold to Mesedu", "Poor guy from Kubachi", "Love of one girl and a young guy", "The Unhappy Reaper", "Sultan-Akhmed junior", "Brave Bekbulat" and many others (Epic Songs of the Dargins, 2004) depict the hero's encounter with a hostile environment. As a rule, a tragic outcome is typical for them – it is either the dramatic death of the hero, or his insidious murder.

Events in ballads are reproduced through intense actions, which in turn are revealed in emotional dialogues, and they also enhance the drama and tragedy of events. Dialogues in ballads carry out a decisive ideological and aesthetic load. “Dialogues are refined formulas,” wrote Putilov (1965), “which are almost symbols, filled with high lyrics” (p. 24).

Dialogues, which are a reflection of the actions of the heroes, anticipating the tragic outcome of the entire plot conflict, perform the most important artistic function in the plots of ballads. For example, the heroine of the ballad "The Unhappy Reaper", addressing her mother, curses her fate: "Mother who gave birth to me, why did you give birth to me, / So that I could see so much suffering?" Here, the pain and anguish of a girl doomed to live in captivity with an unloved one are expressed very emotionally.

Ballads in Dargin folklore are mainly based on dramatic situations, and their entire artistic system is subordinated to this goal. Repetitions with increasing emotional effect are especially expressive in them. For instanct, in the ballad "Poor guy from Kubachi" from its very first lines there is a description of the heroine's vile deeds towards her lover. "- Probably, you are tired from the road, – she says giving a pillow, / – Probably, you are hungry, – she says and prepares salty food for him, / – Probably, you want to drink, – she says and fives him water with salt" (Epic Songs of the Dargins, 2004). She swears in love to him, accepts gifts from him, although she harbored an insidious plan in her soul – to get rid of him. Such advancements enhance the emotional background of the work and contribute to a more vivid disclosure of the heroine's image.

For Dargin ballads, a lyrical mood is especially characteristic, possibly due to the presence of especially developed traditions of lyric poetry in Dargin folklore. It is not by chance that there are many spiritual spates, emotions, psychological experiences in them. A striking example is the ballad "Two Friends", which uses such figurative means as artistic parallelisms, metaphors, comparisons. Here is an excerpt from this ballad, full of emotional expressions, appeals, poetic techniques and means: “Don't dig a grave for my friend, / I will put him in a silver coffin, / If you dig a grave, don’t cover with earth, / Instead of earth, I will fill it with precious stones. / If you cover with earth, do not put a monument, / Instead of a monument, I myself will stand facing the south, / If you erect a monument, then do not read prayers, / Instead of prayers I will sing songs of love” (Epic Songs of the Dargins, 2004).

In Dargin family, household and love ballads, epithets are very common: “sugar heart”, “silver chest”, “silver coffin”, “golden face”, “mother of pearl body”. In the arsenal of artistic means of ballads, there are metaphorically expanded images. Speaking of symbolic imagery in ballads, it should be noted that the most common type of allegorical image is the replacement of one object with another. The symbolic image is a consequence of associative representations. In one of the versions of the famous ballad “Sold to Mesed”, the bitterness of wormwood led to associative representations – the life of the heroine is bitter, like wormwood.

The poetics of ballads is equipped with a variety of symbols: "bright month", "clear sun", "heavenly pava" symbolize a girl; "twisted gold", "golden eagle with a bell", "black falcon", "variegated eagle", "black hat", "silver whip" symbolize a young man.

Purpose of the Study

The aim of our research is to study the features of the traditional poetic folklore of one of the peoples of Dagestan – the Dargins – represented by different genre forms: calendar and ritual, family and household, love poetry and ballads, to determine their genre and artistic originality, to analyze the poetic techniques and pictorial expressive means used in the texts.

Research Methods

The article implements the method of scientific analysis of theoretical literature on the research topic, comparative-typological and descriptive-analytical methods, including observations, interpretations, comparisons, generalizations, and providing a philological assessment of the text, to reveal folklore poetic means of representation.


Thus, the article examined the genres of the Dargins' song folklore. At the same time, it should be emphasized that not all genres that we have involved in the analysis exist at present without any changes. For example, in a number of settlements of Dargin regions, in the villages of Harbuk, Urkarakh, Majalis, Kubachi, Usisha, Sutbuk, etc., the texts of ritual poetry (calling the rain and the sun), previously performed by adults, are now included in the repertoire of children's folklore. Children participate in the rituals. Many wedding songs, known as dignifying ones, when seeing off the bride to the groom's house, passed from ritual folklore to the category of love lyrics and are performed most often at youth parties and festivities. Crying and lamentation, once dating back to the most ancient pagan beliefs and ideas, in recent years have been influenced by the Muslim religion, they now often sound appeals to Allah to send down patience and mercy, requests that in the next world the deceased go to paradise, etc. Ballads in the folklore of the Dargins, being one of the varieties of epic genres of folklore, also undergo certain genre changes. Such characteristic features of the ballad as the tragedy of the situation and the dramatic nature of the situation are gradually weakened, and songs of the ballad type develop into a type of narrative lyric song of family and household or love content.


In this article, as it was stipulated by us, not all genres of song lyrics in Dargin folklore were considered, but the most typical for the aforementioned ethnic groups. But even those genres that we cite represent an integral part of the centuries-old spiritual culture of the Dargin people, and fully illustrate the extraordinary ideological and artistic depth and richness of pictorial means, poetic imagery and expressiveness of song lyrics in the oral and poetic creativity of the Dargin people.


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Alieva, F. A., Mukhamedova, F. K., & Bekeeva, A. M. (2021). Song Genre Of The Dargins’ Traditional Folklore: Ideologic, Aesthetic And Artistic Distinctness. In D. K. Bataev, S. A. Gapurov, A. D. Osmaev, V. K. Akaev, L. M. Idigova, M. R. Ovhadov, A. R. Salgiriev, & M. M. Betilmerzaeva (Eds.), Knowledge, Man and Civilization - ISCKMC 2020, vol 107. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 140-147). European Publisher.