Sunday 10 June 2012

Circassian Lullabies: Magic Blessings Cast for Bliss

The Circassians had a broad repertoire of lullabies. Although the majority were sung by the mother, a number of songs were composed by the foster-parents (ataliq; атэлыкъ), to be addressed to their wards (qan, p’ur; къан, пIур). Besides their mundane function of lulling the young ones to sleep, the Circassians believed that lullabies contained magic powers, and were considered as charms cast upon the tiny tots to consecrate them, ensure their well-being, and enshrine their lives in good fortune. In this sense, the emotional and instinctive tie between mother and child was augmented by a sacred bond.

Circassian cradle, Kabardian style. 

Called "gwsche" [«гущэ»], "x'iriyne" [«хъыринэ»; literally: "swing"], 
"gwschex'iriyne" [«гущэхъыринэ»; literally: "cradle-swing"].

Circassian cradle, Adigean style. 
Soft straps (gwscheps) were used to prevent the infant from falling off the cradle.
North Caucasian cradles had a unique toilet "drainage" mechanism consisting of a shaft
of cored thigh-bone (usually of sheep) ending in a clay container.

The following old traditional cradle song is from the Besleney repertoire. It well illustrates the fact that the Circassians looked upon their progeny as bringers of good fortune and bliss.

Besleney is considered as a divergent dialect of Kabardian. In some linguistic literature Kabardian and Besleney are considered as the dual constituents of Eastern Circassian. The Besleney in the Caucasus are mainly found in the Karachai-Cherkess Republic. It is thought that the majority of the Besleney are now-a-days found in Turkey.


Ла, лай, а нану!
Лай, нахуэ, си нахуэ,
Си нит
Iум язэу, си махуэ!
Нану согъэджей, нынэ,
Нану джеигъуаф
Iэ, нынэ.

Ла, лай, си нану!
Лай, нахуэ, си нахуэ,
Си махуамэ, си насып!
Нанур согъэджей, нынэ,
Нанур джеигъуаф
Iэ, нынэ.

Ла, лай, а нану!
Нану цIыкIур ин къэхъун,
Ин къэхъумэ къезгъэшэн,
КъыщичахэкIэ си унэкъуэщ.
Лай, махуэ, си кIалэ цIыкIу!
КIалэ цIыкIур согъэджей,
ДжеигъуафIэ, си махуай!

“Circassian Lullaby: Auspicious Child!”

Hush, little baby!
Hush-a-bye, resplendent one,
Precious as my eye, sweet godsend!
I’m lulling the little one to sleep,
Sweet dreams, my dear!

Lullaby, hush-a-bye, tiny tot!
Rock-a-bye, my splendid lot,
My great fortune, my good luck!
I’m singing my baby to sleep,
Sleep well, cherished one!

Hush-a-bye, shush, little babe!
The tiny one will grow up one day,
Then I shall marry him off,
Though it be to one of my kin.
Rock-a-bye, my sweet young child!
The little kid I soothe to sleep,
Sweet slumber, auspicious one!

Transcribed & translated by Amjad Jaimoukha

The Zchiw Song Ensemble, sung by Rima Chemishwa

The Zchiw Song Ensemble. Rima Chemishwa is seated in the middle.
"Zchiw" has revived a broad repertoire of ancient and traditional songs, chants and melodies, 
and its members utilize ancient musical instruments 
and play authentic songs of the roaming Circassian bards as they would have been heard 
prior to the 19th century. 

Умэхъын кIуачIэу ахэлъымкIэ, кушъэ орэдхэр тепчмэ ябгъапчэмэ хъущтых. Кушъэ хэлъ сабыир дунэе нэфым фагъадэу, чъые IэшIу къыфэкIонэу, шIур пстэури къехъулIэнэу фэлъаIох.

Мэгъу къарууэ яхэлъымкIэ, гущэ уэрэдхэр тебжэхэм ебгъапщэ хъунущ. Гущэм хэлъ сабийр дуней нэхум хуагъадэу, жей IэфIым хилъэфэну, фIыгъуэ псори къехъулIэну хуолъаIуэ.