chapter  12
13 Pages

Huewdueler (lullabies)

A distinctive characteristic of Turkmen lullabies is their depiction of the baby as an adult. One reason for this depiction is to fool the evil eye during the period of the baby’s maximum vulnerability. Another reason a mother sings to her children as if they were adults is to express her wish that they will live to maturity. Songs about an adult son often envisage elaborate wedding celebrations, whereas those about a daughter’s wedding focus mostly on the matchmaking process and the bride price. Much of the language used to describe sons is reminiscent of that used for older brothers in the girls’ songs and lovers in the fortune-telling songs. The personification of the brother as a romantic hero, so prevalent in the girls’ songs, begins in lullabies sung by his sisters.