There are a lot of dignity sources for learning people’s ethnography. For them, the literary fictions have the special rank and place, because in them the people’s life has described accurately [1, p.26]. Folk eposes, epics, literature, modern literary fictions give the most important and more valuable information in the way of Turkmen’s material and spiritual culture. There said that history supplies literature and so literature supplies the history. For the ethnography, the literary fiction is sufficient source for historian, because in it explained the mentioned period’s real narration, manner, environmental of life and characteristically details.
One of those literary fictions is “The People of Desert” novel of Berdinazar Hudaynazarov . In the novel, it describes a village that lost in desert during the war in 1941–1945 years, their unremitting toil, maneuvering, daily cares with great artistic, enlightened and reality. Bravery, permeability, modesty, kindness, complacent that forms the Turkmen’s national character has shown in life philosophy. Supporting people to each other, overcoming from any issues by being a peaceful, helping to each other, gathering which are concerning to the Turkmen characters are clearly mentioned in this fiction and interweaved there increasing our pride for our ancestors.
National characteristics of the Turkmen nation proved to be timeless. Information relating to ethnographic traits of the Turkmen nation in the novel “The People of Desert” can be classified to various groups: types of ownership, national clothes and foods, dwelling houses, familial traditions, hospitality, good manners, national sciences and folk medicine, games of children, proverbs and sayings. Let’s refer to several examples:
In the first pages of the novel, ‘gaýtarma’ practice (returning the new bride to her home) followed within Turkmen wedding traditions was described with peculiar traits, ‘The sun was shining hot descending as if overhanging from sky like bride’s — Keyik’s kürte (embroidered silky garment) onto sand dunes and was penetrating blue kürte. Heart of the slender-bodied bride occupying the canopy was barely throbbing inside camel-mounted canopy [2, p. 6].
Apparels of a bride returning from her parents' house and the transport were illustrated with ethnographic precision. Precision in expressing the Turkmen lifestyle in the entire novel is a trait attributed to the author. It is shown that a young bride wears kürte following the weddings in sentences “Sadap …, after staying at home for three days wearing green kürte (head cape) which was put aside by the deceased Dursadap-mother for the future bride began to work on their farmland” — these lines shows that after wedding a newlywed woman slips on her head a green cape [2, p. 351]. Besides, the tradition of collecting kürte, ketene dresses, and shawl by the groom’s mother is also described. The same tradition is still adhered to in our days [3, p.20].
The practice of setting up a new household is also expressed as following, “The new house built for Yurdaman is waiting for a new bride. It means they will live independently separating their income” [2,p. 8] or “Her heart… was throbbing in that eight winged yurt situated in the farther side of Uchoyuk village” [2, p. 6].
Hospitality traits of the Turkmen people are illustrated in the visit of the father of Keyik bride to his matchmakers. As the saying is “Respect appears in relationship between father-in-law and son-in-law” Japar-aga came with presents. Aroma of the rolled and dried melons from Tejen district which were wrapped in newspaper inside a flowery red shawl smell sweet in the eight-winged house. Also there was some sesame in the small linen sack [2, p. 47].
Wisdom philosophy of a Turkmen family is succinctly expressed with an example of Ankar-aga’s family, who is one of the novel’s main figures, “Ankar-aga is a thrifty and businesslike man. He inherited such kind of his character from his ancestors. “What is a family? It a small state and such small state should have a head, and such head should take care of the family’s all expenditures. Since that head bears all responsibilities of his family”. It was iron (non-changing) philosophy of old man Ankar [2, p. 125].
The tradition of a Turkmen family is in feelings of respect in for the elders and peers are illustrated in these lines “Soon the elder bride of the old man brought tea for the men. She firstly placed big flowery teapot before his father-in-law, and extended the uppermost tea cup of the four tea cups washing and drying it beforehand. Yes, she extended it without putting on the ground. Old man Ankar cleared his throat again, and took the teacup slowly.” [2, p. 8].
Words of gratitude and wishes of our nation are frequently used in the novel. For instance, a postman Yolly seventeen-year-old boy was thanked with such wishes: “May you bring luck with your feet, come on, and read the letter yourself, my dear”, “May God bless you, may a white-faced girl accompany you” and “Then don’t refuse “white thing” with these words they offered him a bowl of yoghurt [2, p. 142].
Lines about the Turkmen folk medicine are of interest, “In fact, doctors do not reject folk medicine but they benefit from these practices masterfully. I would not make wrong statement if I claim clean air and peace of vast desert, its plants serve as material base. A famous surgeon from Ashgabat called an old man named Rejep Hars from Gyzyltakyr village ‘a professor of folk medicine’ when the old man showed his skills by treating the man who suffered from accident breaking his leg under a vehicle” [2, p. 124].
Names of national Turkmen clothes are lot found in “The People of Desert”: such as men clothes сhepek, chokai (Turkmen man shoes), tahya, papak (Turkmen headdress), gupbi (a quilted coat) and women clothes chepbetev chabyt (woman's coat), sovsanykoynek (woman's silk dress), inlekgusak (woman's woolen belt). One of the heroes of novel the Nunna wrestler’s appearance has described as: “After leaving the house of old man Ankar-aga Nunna wrestler directly went to the district executive committee’s and entered the committee’s building. Nunna wrestler had an impressive appearance. He wore a blue flannel coat with a yellow buckle and agarchakmen (men’s coat maid from camel's hair) onto it. He also put on red çokaý (home-made leather shoe) and lambskin telpek (native headwear). All these clothes suited him very much” [2, p. 62]. Reading these lines arouses pride for creation of the national clothes in very thoughtful way suiting to our nature. Great meanings should be sought in passing of national clothes for millennia without any change.
There is a plenty of information in the novel about food. “The bride Keyik removed teapots and teacups from table cloth, and brought çekdirme (young lamb soup) and “Then she brought newly-baked buried bread in the embroidered breadcloth of camel wool. It was followed by agaran (fermented camel milk)” [2, p. 49]. Another example is “She said, “It is good to see you coming, we have two cups of rice and cottonseed oil, please cook palaw” to Bibigül giving half-cut ribs hang over the lattice and a few onions which were buried in ground. [2, p. 216] We can also find information about hunting and meals made of game animals: ‘Recently, dinners were mainly hare soup, sometimes stake of deer. Well-known hunters who were hunting overnight with their falcons were coming to district centers to sell hunted rabbits. [2, p. 125]. Grinded wheat cereal with meat is mentioned among favorite meals in romance. Turkmen cuisine counts more than 2 thousand names. [4, p.150].
Special attention is devoted to the games played by children, Games such as Ak süňk (white bone), Alyp gaçdy (catch-and-run), Keçe-keçe (felt game) helped in developing dexterity and resourcefulness of children. Turkmen national games were widely described by ethnographer A. Djikiev [5, p. 37].
We find proverbs and sayings which add value and meaning to the entirety of the novel while ethnographically analyzing ‘The People of Desert’. There are profoundly meaningful proverbs such as “Road will be seized by the one who walks”, “Follow the people in their celebrations and mourning”, “If people support, slaughter your horse”, “If you drive away the coward, he will become strong”, “Spring is good for undressed”, “The guest comes with own blessing”, “The most precious wealth is health”, “Better late than never”, “Let bygones be bygones”, “May one who selects the people be damned”, “One who comes brings prosperity” (told about the guest), “Dry trees will burn and burn out, harvest will be consisted from it”, “If winter isn’t look alike a winter, so spring also will not look alike spring”, “Let honest human die rather than dishonest lives”, “Who divorced from dear will cry for seven years, who departure from motherland will cry for a lifelong”, “Who don’t respect dead won’t respect alive”, “If you don’t have a wheat bread, why not find a good word”, “The beauty of home is a woman” and many other proverbs, created by the people, decorate this novel. An outstanding work of Mahmud Kashgarli “Dictionary of Turkic dialects” (XI century) gives a lot of information on Turkmen proverbs .
B.Hudaynazarov’s novel, there are a lot of clearly examples for illustrating the Turkmen people’s life. In this point of view, the present novel is valued source for ethnography. In the wonderful period of honoring the national heritage, the ethnological analyzing is compulsory scientific duties.
- Filippova E. I. Hudоzhestvennaya literatura kak istochnik dlya etnograficheskogo izucheniya goroda // Sovetskaya etnografia. 1986. № 3– 4.
- Hudaynazarov B. Lyudi peskov. — M., 1981.
- Vasilyeva G. P. Magicheskaya rol’ ukrasheniy i nekotoryh vidov odejdy v predstavleniyah turkmen. // Sredneaziatskiy etnograficheskiy sbornik. T. V. M., 2006.
- Turkmenskiy dastarkhan. T.I-II. Ashabat, 2009.
- Dzhikiev A. Traditsionnye turkmenskie prazdniki, razvlecheniya i igry. Ashgabat, 1983.
- Kashgarli M. Divan Lugat At-Turk (Svod turkskih slov). M., 2010.