Библиотека нематериального культурного наследия Республики Башкортостан
Мы используем файлы cookie. Продолжив работу с сайтом, вы соглашаетесь с Политикой использования cookie и Пользовательским соглашением.

The most famous batyr in
the most ancient legend

The «Ural-batyr» («batyr» – hero, brave warrior) is a monument
of the Bashkir literature and one of the oldest epics in the world.
The epic was formed over many millennia since the Stone Age. Modern researchers find in the «Ural-batyr» epic many parallels with
Zoroastrianism, the first monotheistic religion, and in
the image of Ural-batyr himself – the features
of the prophet, the creator and
organizer of the world.
What is the epic

The first records of the monument of Bashkir literature were made in 1910 by Mukhametsha Burangulov from the sesen (singer-storyteller) Gabit Argynbaev
in the village of Idrisovo of the Orenburg province of the 2nd Burzyansky
volost (currently – Baimaksky district of the Republic of Bashkortostan)
and from the sesen Khamit Almukhametov
in the village of 2nd Itkulovo.
The epic consists of 4755 poetic
and 19 prosaic lines, it is narrated by sesens in the manner of performing kubair (genre of Bashkir folk poetry).
The «Ural-batyr» epic is the basis of
the mythological and moral ideas of the ancient
Bashkirs. Most scientists consider him to be the oldest and
the original in the system of heroic epics of the Bashkir people.
Many works are actually literary and epic adaptations of the
«Ural-batyr» epic. For example, the epics «Akbuzat»
and «Babsak and Kusek», continuing the storyline
of the «Ural-batyr», form a single cycle
of Bashkir epic legends.
The «Ural-batyr» epic was repeatedly published
What is the «Ural-batyr»
epic about?

The events of the epic take place in a fantasy world,
where heroes endowed with superhuman
abilities do great or unseemly deeds.
The central place in the epic is occupied by the theme of life and death, immortality, organically intertwined with the theme of good and evil. Compositionally the epic consists of several parts that tell about the deeds of three generations
of heroes.
The introductory part tells about the Great Flood, the first people – Yanbirde (in Bashkir means «who gave life») and Yanbike (in Bashkir means «soul-mistress»), the birth of their sons – Ural and Shulgen. Having learned that Death is stronger than man, Ural and Shulgen set off in search of the living spring Yanshishme (in Bashkir means «spring of the soul»), whose water will make man and Nature immortal. The discord between the brothers, which began in the parental home, is further developed during the journey for living water: the insidious Shulgen conspires with monsters, takes the side of Evil and Darkness, and Ural becomes the defender and ruler of the world of Light and Good, with the help of the winged horse Akbuzat and Huma bird (magic bird, daughter of the king of birds Samrau and the heavenly beauty Sun) he finds living water and bestows Nature immortality. The central place in the epic is occupied by the description of the heroic acts of Ural-batyr.
Jalil Suleimanov. Illustration for the «Ural-batyr» epic
The first part of the epic is devoted to the exploits of Ural in the country of Katil, the second – to the fight against monsters in the kingdom of Kakhkakha. In the next part the hero in the name of saving people, birds and animals enters into single combat with Azraka and his numerous snakes – daevas (in mythology – evil spirits). The final part tells about the victory of Ural over Kakhkakha, his struggle with the surviving daevas and Shulgen, death of Ural, who sacrificed himself for the future of people on the Earth. Also this part tells about the exploits of Ural's sons – Yaik, Nugush and Idel, and Shulgan's son – Haqmar (Sakmar).
The epic philosophically expresses the idea of the inevitability and necessity of death. The words of the elder Taraul, who is doomed to live forever, and the dying testament of Ural-batyr reveal the true meaning of immortality: people are immortal by their good deeds.
Film-compilation «Ural-batyr», 2008
Some motifs and images of «Ural-batyr» are also found in other
Bashkir epics, such as «Kara yurga» («Black ambling horse»),
«Kungyr-buga» («Brown bull»), «Idukai and Muradym», «Yulai
and Salavat», and the epic «Akbuzat» is logical continuation
of the «Ural-batyr». Many images and motifs of the epic are in
tune with the images and motifs of epic tales of other peoples.
Shulgen – name seems familiar
Even if you don't know what the epic «Ural-batyr» is about,
you know exactly the name of Shulgen (Shulgan).
The epic area that was made by the world creators in the text of «Ural-batyr» is the territory of the Shulgan-Tash Nature Reserve and the Shulgan-Tash Cave (Kapova Cave), which is a specially protected natural, historical and cultural object.

This large karst cavity, which appeared about a million years ago, is located in Burzyansky district of the Republic of Bashkortostan on the territory of the Shulgan-Tash Nature Reserve, on the southern slope of Sarykuskan Mountain and on the right bank of the Belaya river.
Photo from the official website of the Shulgan-Tash Nature Reserve
The cave gained worldwide fame thanks to rock paintings of the Paleolithic Age of 14–14,5 thousand years. Of the more than two hundred discovered drawings only about thirty are relatively well preserved. Their size is extremely large – from 44 to 112 centimeters. Almost all the figures are made in red ochre, but there are also much rarer ones written in coal: mammoths, horses, other animals, anthropomorphic figures, as well as signs that are more difficult to interpret. Uranium-thorium dating showed that the oldest drawings
in the Kapova Cave were made 36400 years ago.
The discovery of this ancient rock art in 1954 by zoologist Aleksandr Ryumin became a real sensation in the scientific world, because it was believed that drawings of extinct animals of the Paleolithic Age are found only in France and Spain. It turned out that in the Urals at that time there were no less developed people than in Europe.

A. V. Ryumin
Stone tools, ochre, coals and ash were also found in the cave. These findings are 15–17 thousand years old. The bones of an ancient lion were recently found, which was much larger than the one we know. In the epic Ural and Shulgen set off on their way riding on the lions.
For the first time the Kapova Cave was described by the famous scientist-researcher of the Southern Urals Pyotr Rychkov in the 18th century. He learned from the Bashkirs that in ancient times there was
a special narrow passage leading to the grottoes of the upper floor directly from the mountain. But this passage was not discovered by speleologists.
«Of all the caves located in Bashkiria it is considered the most glorious and the largest».
Pyotr Ivanovich Rychkov
Russian geographer, historian, economist, natural scientist, first corresponding member of the St. Petersburg Academy of sciences
In fact, the description of the researcher is one of the earliest descriptions of the cult of the cave, which was known to the Bashkirs.
In addition, the epic describes a real geographical space –
an area with the geographical objects of the Southern Urals.
Reality is achieved by the description of the specific toponymic
objects – mountains and rivers of modern Bashkortostan: the Urals, Shulgan (the Kapova Cave), mountains: Iremel, Kryktytau and
Yamantau, rivers: Yaik, Agidel, Nugush and Sakmar. In the epic
their appearance is associated with the deeds of
mythical heroes – the early ancestors.
Epic in modern times
The epic heritage and the transmission of oral tradition are on the verge of extinction, the living existence and the performance
of the epic are lost, continuity is interrupted.
Changes in the social and economic life of the Bashkirs have led to the fact that only the older generation owns the skill of performing kubair, there is a sharp reduction in the number of informants and carriers of the genre. It is necessary to pay more attention to the study, revival and development of the ancient Bashkir storytelling art and the best traditions of verbal, verbal-singing competitions. However, it should be noted that specifically with the epic «Ural-batyr» everything is not so bad. The republic annually hosts a competition for young storytellers and performers of the «Ural-batyr» epic. Over the years the number of participants, who not only completely recited the largest epic work by heart, but also managed to do it in several languages at once, has significantly increased.
In order to revive, preserve and improve performing skills the
«Ural-batyr» sesen schools have been established in the republic:
in the Bashkir state pedagogical university named after
Miftahetdin Akmulla, in the city of Sibai, in Alsheyevsky,
Burzyansky, Gafuriysky, Salavatsky and
Khaybullinsky districts.
The Bashkir state academic drama theatre named after
Mazhit Gafuri put on the play «Ural-batyr».
There was created a popular science film «In search for Akbuzat»
(production of the film studio «R. I. Production»,
film by Riyaz Iskhakov, 2006).
«In search for Akbuzat»
There was also created an animated film «Ural-batyr».
The animated film on the motifs of the Bashkir epic «Ural-batyr». This project was
awarded a grant from the President of the Republic of Bashkortostan and
was implemented by the «Amanat» studio headed by Ildar Gafarov
The epic «Ural-batyr» is one
of the «Seven Wonders of Bashkortostan»,
it is included in TURKSOY Intangible
Cultural Heritage List.

1. Shakurova Sh. R. Bashkir folk epic «Ural-batyr»: archival primary source and its textological analysis. Ufa, 2007 (in Russian).
2. Bukharova G. Kh. Bashkir folk epic «Ural-batyr»: cognitive-discourse and conceptual analysis: author's abstract of thesis by Ph.D. of Philological Sciences: defended on October 9, 2009. Ufa, 2009 (in Russian).
3. Sanyarov F. B. Peculiarities of the language and style of the epos «Ural-batyr». Ufa, 1999 (in Russian).
4. The reality of the myth: to the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the epic «Ural-batyr»: [«Round table»] // «Belskie prostory»: monthly socio-political and literary magazine. No. 6. Ufa, 2010. P. 184–197 (in Russian).
5. Ural-batyr. Bashkir folk epic. Project, introductory article, preparation of texts by F. Nadrshina. 2nd, stereotyped edition. Ufa: Informreklama, 2005 (in Bashkir, Russian and English).
6. Davletkulov A. Kh. Revival of the Bashkir kubair // «Vatandash». No. 4. Ufa, 2012. P. 135–149 (in Russian).
7. Shakurova Sh. R. An article «Shulgan» // Bashkortostan: Brief encyclopedia. Ufa, 1996. P. 646 (in Russian).
8. Ural-batyr (epic) / Recorded by M. Burangulov from G. Argynbaev and Kh. Almukhametov in 1910. Ufa, 2014 (in Russian).
9. Aminev Z. G. Epos «Ural-batyr» as a cosmogonic myth. Ufa, 2007 (in Russian).
10. Kotov V. G. Bashkir epic «Ural-batyr». Historical and mythological foundations. Ufa: Gilem, 2006 (in Russian).
11. Mirbadaleva A. S. Bashkir folk epic. Moscow: Nauka, 1977 (in Russian).

1. Animated film «Ural-batyr»: produced by «Amanat» studio, directed by I. Gafarov;
2. Documentary film «In search for Akbuzat»: production of the film studio «R. I. Production» (http://riproduction.ru), film by Riyaz Iskhakov, 2006.

Author (compiler): R. F. Gazizov, 2019