chapter  13
11 Pages

Agylar (lamentations)

The lamentations have a more fluid structure than the other women’s folk songs. They vary in length, in the number of syllables per line, and in the rhyming patterns. Garryew describes them as ‘rhythmic poems sung while women cry’.1 One convention peculiar to the lamentations is the addressing of the deceased husband or his parents as ‘kaaba’ as a token of great respect.2 The lamentations are usually sung on the day of burial, which, in keeping with Islamic tradition, takes place within twenty four hours of death. They can also be sung three days, seven days and forty days after a death. During the Second World War, in the absence of information about their men fighting in the Soviet forces, the singing of lamentations could not take place on the prescribed days. Bajaw Ishangulyewa explained that, in the Kaka area, the village women used to gather in the fields after work to lament the deaths of all the local men who had been killed.3 They also gathered to express fears that loved ones might be dying unmourned and far away.