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A. Cherkesova

Heroic epic in the culture of the turkophone peoples of the North Caucasus

The song episodes of the epic tales of the Nart epic of the Karachays and Balkars, the tales of the Nogai and Kumyk batyrs are considered in a comparative historical aspect in order to identify the specifics of the epic traditions of the turkophone ethnic groups of the North Caucasus, and the factors that influenced them. In this regard, the author identified similarities and differences in the composition of various genres of the epic and their connections, conditions and forms of their existence, performing tradition and musical style. The discussion of controversial issues of typologization of epic genres of the turkophone people of the North Caucasus accounts for the topicality of the study. It is established that the heroic epic about Narts and batyrs, being the central element in the system of genres, unites a group of stylistically correlated songs about Kazaks (Kazak jiir of Kumyks, Nogais), historical songs about heroes of different origin. In the past, all Turkic groups typically had a connection between the heroic epic and men's gatherings, holidays and rituals, but unlike other ethnic groups, there was no epic specialization of performers. The general regional attributes include a solo-group performance without accompaniment, singing the fragment of the narrative of the soloist, supported by the choral exclamations (ezhiu, ezhuw – unison for Noghays and polyphonic for Karachays and Balkars), and a solo with the accompaniment of a rattle – harsa and flute refrains – sybyzgy (Balkars, Karachays). The declamatory intonation of unequalsyllable verses prevails in the varied and voluminous tirade tunes of the Karachays, Balkars and Nogais. The Kumyk versions of the epic are distinguished by the stability of the song strophes (of two parts) and probable accompaniment of agach-kumuz. The greatest degree of commonality is revealed in the epic traditions of the Karachays and Balkars (having a common origin and culture), less in the traditions of the Kumyks and Nogais, differing in origin and forms of life support. The preservation of the epic of later historical types (songs about heroes) in secondary forms of stage performance is noted.

Key words

North Caucasus, Turks, Nart epic, legends about batyrs, jiir, Kazak jiir.

For citation

Cherkesova A. Heroic epic in the culture of the turkophone peoples of the North Caucasus // South-Russian Musical Anthology. 2022. No. 1. Pp. 55–62.