chapter  3
8 Pages

The Folk Songs of Turkmen Women

This final introductory chapter provides an overview of the different types of song that Turkmen women sing. The individual songs will be analysed at greater length later; the purpose of this chapter is to offer some preliminary general remarks about their significance, and about the insights they provide into the lives of the women who sing them. Historians and other scholars have often turned to folk songs to gain valuable insights into social structures and values.1 The Russian novelist, Nikolai Gogol, wrote that such songs ‘lay bare all the life of a people’; they are ‘vital, vivid, full of colours and truth’. ‘A historical inscription’, he concluded, ‘is nothing against this living, talking chronicle’.2 More recently, these thoughts have been echoed by the American singer, Bob Dylan, who said that ‘popular songs are the only art form that describe the temper of the times’.3