Beshik toyi in Uzbekistan
The child’s birth from any people has long been surrounded by a lot of rituals. They emerged not only to express the joy of parents and other relatives to the continuation of their clan, but also to guard the baby from the influence of evil forces. One of these rituals is beshik toyi that is spread among the peoples of Central Asia, and in Uzbekistan, in particular.
Beshik item itself is a cradle for a baby. Beshik toyi, the festivity on the occasion of the first putting down the child in the cradle, is considered one of the most widespread ancient family rites in Uzbekistan. This rite is held mainly on the seventh, ninth, eleventh day after the birth of the child or any other day with the mutual parental consent of the newlyweds. The difference between Beshik toyi and other family rites is that men do not participate in it, and only women take part in the ritual.
As a rule, Uzbek Beshik toyi is held for the first-born, and it passes solemnly. In some districts local names are used for its designation. By way of example, in Bukhara, the ritual is named "Govora bandon" - "Tie in beshik"; in Khorezm - "Buvak yigilish".
Under the old tradition, the grandmother of the newborn on mother’s side buys a beshik (Uzbek wooden cradle) decorates it, and also prepares everything necessary for the baby. The day before Beshik toyi mother-in-law sent her son-in-law a beautifully adorned basket full of cakes, sweets and toys. Gifts and treats wrapped in a tablecloth were carried along the street, accompanied by tambourines of carnai-surnais (Uzbek national music instruments). In many places (particularly, in Tashkent) for a baby (if it was a boy) a foal was dressed. For grandfathers and grandmothers of the baby outfits (sarpa) were prepared.
On the day of beshik toyi, having met mother's relatives, flour was strewn onto their faces as a symbol of their pure thoughts, wishes to the child happiness. At this time in the other room the rite of putting the baby in the beshik was held.
Now Beshik toyi in Uzbekistan is held at a certain time. According to the ritual, the closest relatives of the son-in-law arrive, saying inherent sentences. In turn, a woman who receives guests or one of the elderly women, introduces a specially decorated Uzbek beshik. After this the son-in-law's father "buys" the beshik. Then arriving guests are invited into the house and seated at a specially laid table. At the table prayers are made for the well-being of the child. In some regions, special long noodles are cooked at the festival. It reflects the desire of the child for a long life, like noodles. After the feast there are funs and dances, and close relatives of the baby give him various gifts. In turn, the parents of the son-in-law also distribute gifts to the guests, which were specially prepared for them.
In Khorezm for Beshik toyi special women – performers of khalf were invited. They performed for the audience the fragments from the Uzbek folk epics, and also told stories and legends.
In earlier times, a special dish prepared from jugara was served on the beshik ritual, because jugara was considered by the Uzbeks as a symbol of fertility. Now various sweets (parvarda or sugar) and special pilaf are cooked.
At the end of the Beshik toyi ceremony, on the left of the young mother the beshik (cradle) is put. The mother breast-feeds the child and sings to him a lullaby. According to the views of the Uzbeks two things are important for a child: mother's milk and a lullaby. For this reason, girls from an early age learn to sing a lullaby.
After the execution of all the rituals associated with Beshik toyi, the guests are seen off. With this, the rite ends.
Uzbek cradles in the past
Such cradles were used in the era of nomadic life. They were made in the following way: two arches of willow wood with a thick wrist were joined with sticks, which were inserted into the holes at the ends of the arches. Bands stretched from the willow were weaved between the sticks, and a small mattress was spread over the bottom.
Subsequently, the construction of the Uzbek cradle was improved. The cradle was made with a cultuk - a hole that was connected with the pot. Thanks to this the child stayed dry longer and the mother was less distracted from work to care for him. In addition, rocking pads were made in beshik, so that the child could be quickly soothed by motion sickness.
Manufacture of beshiks in Uzbekistan
The production of cradles for babies (beshiks) is done by the egarchi. This is considered an independent trade. This profession requires creative imagination, knowledge of folk traditions, and love of craft. Most often this profession is considered to be a job of the third generation.
There is no special factory for beshiks’ production in Uzbekistan. Everything is done in private houses in mahallas (Uzbek neighborhoods) or at private enterprises.
Beshik is a structure from a rectangular base with no legs. From the base up there are two arch-shaped vaults, which serve for the formation and stability of the structure. At the bottom of the beshik, soft feather beds or a mattress are laid, and on the top of the crib the tulle is hung.
Uzbek cradle is made of poplar. To make a beshik you need to take wood without damage. The components of the cradle are ground on special equipment. Thinner parts are made by hand. After manufacturing the beshik, it must stand in the sun, so that the wood becomes dry, and the parts are elastic. If the ready beshik does not dry, after a while it can become unusable.
If the process of making the Uzbek beshik is a family affair, then in the manufacture of the cradle, the duties are distributed as follows: men polish the tree, women paint cradles.
Initially it is covered with a colorless varnish. Next, the finished product is applied with a color varnish and gilding. Drawings on beshiks for boys and girls are different. For boys’ beshiks geometric shapes are used more, for girls’ ones there are smooth lines and patterns.