On Traditional Gender Approach To Art In The Bashkirs Spiritual Culture


In modern Russian literature the works of Lyudmila Petrushevskaya, Tatyana Tolstaya, Lyudmila Ulitskaya, Victoria Tokareva, etc. are popular. In Bashkir literature the names of Hadiya Davletshina, Zaynab Biisheva, Tansulpan Garipova, Gulnur Yakupova, Tamara Ganiyeva etc. are well known. The latest wrote in different styles of art, i.e., the prose, poetry, and dramatic art. Today in the literary criticism there is a need to study women’s prose. In the Bashkir national science, this problem is relevant and requires a special approach. To identify the semantics of this phenomenon, the authors of the article address fiction sources, i.e., the folklore traditions and genres where the feminine remained. So, a young girl moaning (senlyau) during a wedding ceremony, when she has to say goodbye to the family before moving to the house of her groom, her difficult fate in somebody else’s house is poeticized. Also in memory of the people narrative poetic works, beits about heavy women burden, fate of the Bashkir woman, etc. are still alive. The Bashkir women authors widely use these folklore traditions as regards art and esthetic purposes. It is indicated in the article that application of this approach to the Bashkir literature expresses novelty investigated in the article. The importance and relevance of gender approach requires closer attention of scientists in the field of study.

Keywords: Beit, gender prose, gender folklore genre, literature, novel


The concept of gender in the art and the problem of gender prose, in particular, are being widely used in the study of literary creativity of female authors. This phenomenon was identified as a separate literary phenomenon in the 1990s although it has always existed. Women created both in poetry and in prose. However, in literary science, the question of its study at the present stage as a phenomenon of literary thought, culture as a whole has become acute. In modern Russian literature, the works of Lyudmila Petrushevskaya, Tatyana Tolstaya, Lyudmila Ulitskaya, Victoria Tokareva, etc. are popular. In Bashkir literature the names of Hadiya Davletshina, Zaynab Biisheva, Tansulpan Garipova, Gulnur Yakupova, Tamara Ganiyeva etc. are well known. The latest wrote in different styles of art, i.e., the prose, poetry, and dramatic art.

Problem Statement

The relevance of the study lies in an attempt to consider the problem of a gender approach to the Bashkir national literature, to identify traditional roots of the work of women writers, etc. for the first time.

Research Questions

1. Feminine creativity has always attracted attention of scientists, researchers, critics, and readers. Having become part of scientific research, this type of creativity was designated as gender creativity, meaning gender prose or poetry, in particular.

Like any phenomenon, feminine creativity has its own characteristics: the author is a woman, the main hero is a woman, and the problem is somehow connected with the fate of women. The perception of surrounding reality from a female point of view plays an important role, taking into account the peculiarities of female psychology (Zumbulidze, 2011). According to some researchers, the femininity in literary creativity is a phenomenon of domestic literature and national artistic thought, which has deep traditional roots.

2. When considering folklore materials, it should be noted that representatives of one sex are presented with a certain set of behavioral norms and expectations, including speech, and this set differs from the requirements for the other sex. To differentiate boys and girls, men and women, special words are used that describe them in different ways (Shushanyan, 2013). For example, the epic genres of Bashkir folklore often talk about the heroic actions and deeds of male representatives (The Ural-Batyr epos), while a woman is given only an episodic role (lover, mother, stepmother, wife, sister, daughter). In the center of lyrical-epic beits and lyrical songs, along with the image of a man, the image of a woman appears (mother, girl, daughter-in-law, etc.). The following features of Bashkir women are revealed: obedience, devotion, sacrifice. In folk lyric-epic beits, a woman is often presented as a rebel. Preservation and dissemination by women of beits about their hard lot was largely determined by the degree to which social problems were reflected, the woman’s protest against the canons of Islam and the remnants of ancient traditions. The artistic generalization of the image of the main character echoed the fate of the performer herself, i.e., Bashkir woman.

3. Women’s beits are mostly devoted to the difficult and dramatic fate of a lonely widow left with small children, tough sledding of a girl in a cruel world, etc. The beits created in pre-revolutionary times clearly highlight the lack of equality between women and men, the unfair, cruel attitude towards the weaker sex (Beit about a girl sold for wealth, Sad woman Bibigaisha, Beit of an enlightened girl, etc.). Numerous beits about the female fate were created both by the relatives of the tragically dead women, and by the prototypes of the beits themselves. They reflected not only general and typical phenomena of social life, but purely personal relationship of the authors to an individual person or event (Kunafin, 2006). Being true to life and realistic, they were widely distributed among people. Sad Woman Bibigaisha is especially popular among the beits. The beit was composed on behalf of a dying woman who says goodbye to her relatives. Later, in terms of its stylistic features, it began to be perceived as a beit epitaph: a monologue of a person who passed away. The narration in beits on behalf of a deceased person may be connected with the ancient ideas of people about the duality of the human soul, which can exist separately from the body and tell about its fate (Galina, 2006).

This beit tells about the difficult fate of Bibigaisha, who committed suicide, leaving her children to her husband's second younger wife. Left after the second marriage of her husband to his young wife, the female hero remains abandoned and deprived of the attention of her beloved spouse. Unrequited, unhappy love, in the end, dooms her to death. However, the beit does not immediately describe the mental suffering of a woman. According to the epitaphic tradition, a didactic idea is first carried out in the beit, a testament is given to the younger generation to acquire knowledge and receive an education:

So, my dear, you need to read,

And you’ll get the taste of it.

If you have some time to read,

It will not the burden for you ...

…If there is a library,

Don’t be lazy to go there.

One needs a great guide

To lead the blind with you ...

(Baimov, 2004).

In the second part of the beit, Bibigaisha-khanum talks to her husband. At first, she reproaches him for taking a second wife, reminds him how much she loved him, although he demonstrated a remote behavior to her. Here she bequeaths children to him, so that he would keep an eye on them and defend from being taken advantage of by his new wife. So that he could provide children with a good education. At the end of the second part, khanum, saying goodbye to her husband, threatens to drown herself in the lake:

The will was long,

And I can die now.

I will perish in the Kaban lake,

Slamming the door behind me.

(Baimov, 2004)

The woman’s monologue conveys her love and longing for her husband, regret for unhappy love and bygone youth. Bibigaishi-khanum’s dreams of women’s happiness are not destined to come true. In the third part of the beit, in her sad songs, she recalls her childhood next to her mother, the period of matchmaking and, it would seem, a happy marriage, which was such for a very short time. A certain contrast is given between a happy childhood, youth before marriage and an unhappy life after marriage. In the next chapter, the heroine turns to her children, gives them covenants and asks them to strive for knowledge. She writes off the orphanhood of children to the fate. In the fifth part, the heroine asks her family to forgive her.

In the sixth chapter of the beit, the heroine addresses men who look at women with contempt:

You think we are stupid –

The hair is strong but not the wit.

But aren’t we responsible for half of the world,

Though we are not smart enough.

(Baimov, 2004)

In the final part, the woman asks to forgive her for harsh statements and inexperience. The beit Sad Woman Bibigaisha personifies the unfortunate female fate, grief, and unrequited love. Bibigaisha Khanum is trying to be heard by people, she wants her act to become an occasion for reflection and drawing attention to the difficult fate of the Bashkir woman. This beit is in many ways reminiscent of the Bashkir folk songs Salimakai, Shaurakai, Zulkhiza, Ashkadar and others about the unfortunate female fate. It evokes an allusion in the context of intertextual connection (Abulhanova et al., 2017).

4. The allusory nature of the storyline, ideological and thematic as well as ideological and aesthetic component can be observed in the Bashkir folk song Ashkadar dedicated to selfless female love for her life partner. The song is preceded by a legend that tells how a young man named Yumagul (in some versions, Shamsutdin, Kamali) went hunting along the Ashkadar River in winter and, having fallen through the ice, he drowned. The hunte’'s dog named Akburzai (or Khakkolak) waited for the owner at the place of death for three days. Turning to the history of the lyrical song, one can find out that the song Ashkadar was composed by a young widow, Yumagul’s wife, Tankhylu. The ability to love faithfully is one of the most common qualities of the heroine of not only songs, but also folk tales and legends. Tankhylu, shrouded in grief and longing after the death of her husband, unable to bear the separation, commits suicide. Among the people, this women’s song, full of longing and suffering for the untimely departed loved one, has become widespread among the people. It became so popular that in honor of unfading love back in 1968 on the banks of the river. Ashkadar (in the village of Ayuchevo, Sterlitamak district of the Republic of Bashkortostan) is a monument that is erected from natural stone. There is an inscription on the monument in Bashkir, Old Turkic and Russian “The hunter Shamsutdin tragically died at this place, which caused the birth of the song Ashkadar” (Yanguzin, 1993, p. 115).

5. A special place was given to ritual folklore, where a woman played the main role. Ritual folklore was in the oral and poetic creativity of any nation, which, among other things, includes the wedding tradition. During the wedding, on the side of the bride, when the time comes for her to move to the groom’s house, according to custom, she, having tied a red cloth to the crossbar of the ceiling – the mother, in a poetic form performs a cry-farewell – senlyau. At the same time, turning to her father and mother, brothers and sisters, she expresses her resentment that they are sending her to distant lands, recalls her carefree life as a girl, says goodbye to it and says the following with tears in her eyes (if the bride did not cry, then the daughters-in-law and aunts specially pinched her so that she began to cry from pain):

Mother, why did you give birth to me?

Why did you sing a lullaby to me next to the birch bark cradle?

Mother, as you let me get married being so young,

You have placed sadness in my heart (Our interlinear translation. – G.Yu.) .

6. Regarding Bashkir literature, which, like any literary thought, is based on folklore, it should be noted that the problem of the gender approach has recently become the subject of research. At the same time, Bashkir women’s literature – prose, poetry – has existed for a long time. It was studied as part of the literature, while not standing out as a separate phenomenon. In Bashkir literature back in 1930s of the last century, Khadiya Davletshina was a well-known author of the monumental novel Irgiz and many other stories. Later, in the middle of the 20th century, the Zainab Biisheva’s trilogy novel The Humiliated, On the Bank of the Big Ik, Toward the Light became known as well as other novels, stories, and poems. In modern gender poetry, there are many women, while in prose there are only a few. The latter, specifically for this reason, attract great attention. In this regard, Yakupova with her trilogy The Women, Garipova with the novel Burenushka, Gizzatullina (1999) with the story The Soul House and short stories made a great contribution to the continuation and development of the tradition of creating gender prose.

As befits gender prose, the Woman is invariably at the center of events described in these works. Moreover, they are united by the fact that they are filled with an ode to a woman, mother, wife, and daughter. She is depicted as the center of the Universe, the whole world rests on her, she is the successor of the family, the keeper of the hearth, the bearer of wisdom, moral, ethical and spiritual principles, etc. So, in the novel Burenushka all events develop around the feminine principle, i.e., the women: The main character Gulbanu, her daughter Madina, grandmother Fauzia – Barsyn-bike, a cow named Burenushka, a she-wolf, etc. The trilogy The Women by Yakupova (2013) is also rich in female images: The girl Nuria, her mother, grandmother and fellow villagers. Gizzatullina (1999) devoted her story The Soul House to the image of a single woman – the mother of two children, to the description of her search for her place in this life, etc. Men in the works more often act as characters and help in revealing the character of the heroines, their inner world and worldview.

Describing events and people, especially looking into the history of the family, the family of their heroines, the authors refer to ancient folk legends such as, for example, the image of the Gray Wolf or just a she-wolf, i.e., bearer of the feminine. In other words, a female author, surveying the world around her, reality from a female point of view, passing all this through the prism of her soul, reveals the psychology and state of mind of her heroine. To do this, she, as the custodian of the sacred knowledge of her family and people, in general, resorts to folklore traditions. In this case, the wolf is a totemic animal, the progenitor of many large tribes such as the Turks, in general, the Bashkirs, in particular. Therefore, this animal does not pose a danger to the heroine, only negative characters can die from its paws and teeth.

7. In the works, over and over again, the truth is affirmed which states that only a woman is able to give birth to a child, feed him with her milk and raise a worthy person and citizen. A similar feminist spirit is also characteristic of the works in question. This is especially vividly represented in the trilogy by Yakupova The Women (Girl, For the sake of the only beloved ... and Small Universe – Big Universe). The narration in the novel, is conducted on behalf of the main character named Nuria – a girl, then a maiden, later a beloved woman, a mother. And she begins to talk about herself from her very stay in the womb, when the soul had just moved into her, the embryo, and the ability to feel and understand what was happening around was born. The mother’s womb, designated as the Small Universe, is the brightest, warmest, dearest and closest world where the baby feels protection and love. Everything begins to rapidly develop around and change along with her birth, when her mother felt like the happiest woman, namely the Mother.

Only a mother’s heart is able to forgive and accept her most unlucky son, no matter what offense he has committed. In Bashkir folk art, the fairy tale called Mother’s Heart is known, which tells about such a mother. As the hero of this fairy tale wounded a golden eagle during a hunt, he had to bring his mother’s heart as a medicine for it, otherwise he could not marry the daughter of the king to whom the bird belonged: “... The golden eagle must be fed a human heart. Only the heart of the mother of the hunter can save the sacred bird…” said the doctor who treated the bird (Suleimanov, 1990, p. 54).

This, at first glance, barbaric and cruel act is based on belief in the power of the totem bird, which, in this case, is the golden eagle (in the past, each Bashkir clan had its own distinctive tribal attributes – tamga symbols, a cry, a tree and a bird) (Suleimanov, 1990). A fear of king’s anger and, most importantly, of the sacred family bird, as well as the selfish desire, by all means, to marry his beloved forced the young Eget to go to a terrible deed. During the long absence of her son, the mother was very worried so that she could not eat, could not drink, could not sleep and she was waiting for him. However, when he returned, he took her life at night and, taking out her heart, carried her to the mountain where the king lived. Running with all his might, he stumbled and fell. “The mother’s heart slipped out of his hands and suddenly, having found the gift of speech, it sympathetically asked “Are you hurt, son? Get up or you’ll be late and they’ll kill you. You must live, my son ...” (Suleimanov, 1990, p. 62). Then the hero, repenting of his deed, wept bitterly. In this case, the fate of the wounded totem bird is more important, more significant than personal feelings and relationships. The moral and ethical background of the fairy tale also lies in the fact that the mother, despite the misdeed of her son, forgave him and continued to love and care for him even after her death.

8. Similar superhuman maternal love is also observed in Garipova’s (2006) novel Burenushka. No matter what immoral offenses the only son of Ikhsanbay does, Barsyn-bike accepts and forgives him and mourns bitterly when he dies. The work describes in piercing tones the psychological state of a mother who suffers from the fact that, loving and pitying her only son, she is torn between the moral and immoral, sublime and base feelings. She blames herself for everything that she and her husband could not give a worthy upbringing to their son. Therefore, she always finds an excuse for the deeds of her son by the fact that she is a mother. And if Ihsanbai, as he had threatened, would take her life, then she, like that mother from a fairy tale, would forgive him and justify him. So, folk wisdom and morality reflected in the folk tale about the mother’s heart, found artistic reincarnation in Garipova’s novel, thereby elevating the image of a woman, mother to a highly artistic level, assigning significant moral, ethical, artistic and aesthetic functions to her.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this article is to identify and consider the features of womenэs prose, womenэs folk lyric-epic poetry, which includes beits and folk songs. To consider samples of oral and poetic folk art created by women and performed by them about their hard lot, unhappy love and the fate of a widow, etc. To reveal the reflection of the traditions of folk gender lyric-epic poetry in the author’s prose of our time. To achieve these goals, such tasks are solved as the study of gender beits, songs, the identification of social and personal problems reflected in them, the consideration of their ideological and thematic, ideological and artistic originalities, the disclosure of these features in the form of traditional motifs, plots and themes in women’s prose of the 21st century.

In this regard, in this article, in addition to the current state of women’s creativity in Bashkir literature, the traditional roots of its origin, traditional nature of its character will also be considered. Therefore, poetic wedding ceremonies are still alive in the oral-poetic Bashkir folk art, during which the bride, saying goodbye to girlhood, to her home and parents’ moans – senlyau (senluu). Besides, in the folklore of the Bashkirs there is a genre of beit, i.e., a poetic narrative about life, difficult fate of a lyrical hero, dramatic life events, etc. Among them, there are also female beits about the hard lot of a widow mother, an unfortunate daughter-in-law, which were created by the women, who at that time were experiencing difficult life conflicts, grief and misfortune, etc. The authors of the article conclude that women’s creativity originates in the origins of literary creativity i.e., in folklore.

Research Methods

The application of this approach to Bashkir literature for the first time expresses the novelty of the study, during which analytical, hermeneutic and philological methods of analysis are also used. This will greatly help in understanding, comprehending and revealing the artistic, aesthetic, thematic, and poetic peculiarities of works created by a woman.


As a result of the study of the problem of gender prose, the application of a gender approach to the study of the Bashkir folk oral-poetic lyrical-epic poetry, the poetic features of female beits, folk songs about the difficult female lot, the traditions of which are reflected in the female prose of Bashkir literature, were identified, considered and analyzed. The artistic and aesthetic, artistic use of the traditions of folk gender lyrical-epic poetry by modern women writers is revealed. To achieve the set goals, such tasks are solved as the study of gender beits, songs, the identification of social and personal problems reflected in them, the consideration of their ideological and thematic, ideological and artistic originalities, the disclosure of these features in the form of traditional motifs, plots and themes in women’s prose of the 21st century.


In conclusion, it should be pointed out that the traditions of a gender approach to artistic creativity in the spiritual culture of the Bashkirs date back to folklore, the earlier artistic, aesthetic, worldview, and moral views of the people. Manifesting itself in the wedding ritual folklore, namely in the scene with the farewell poetic weeping-moaning of the bride leaving her native home – senlyau, it was also reflected in folk songs and beits, in which women poeticized all the tragedy of their fate and deep emotional experiences. These traditions later penetrated into the work of female writers who created their works, relying on their lives and often telling the history of their family, clan, people, etc. The study and identification of not only typological, but also genetic similarities of women’s creativity, prose in this case, with folklore traditions, genres “will contribute to a deeper penetration into the nature of women’s creativity, further affirmation and development in line with the literary process” (Zumbulidze, 2011, p. 22). This is the significance and relevance of the gender approach, which requires closer attention in science.


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23 December 2022

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Khubbitdinova, N., Khanova, G., & Galiullin, A. (2022). On Traditional Gender Approach To Art In The Bashkirs Spiritual Culture. 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 2022, vol 129. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 605-612). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2022.12.78