Sallanchak is a lullaby tradition that unites all the peoples of Central Asia

Sallanchak is a lullaby tradition that unites all the peoples of Central Asia

There is one a thousand-year-old thing that unites all the peoples of Central Asia – it is a cradle. And although everyone calls it their own way, the roots of a single nomadic civilization are obvious.

Asia has one cradle. One for all – a wooden or metal bed for a baby usually on rockers, the most ancient of which – among those found – belongs to the era of the Karakhanid dynasty, approx 10-11 centuries. And since then, the nomadic cradle has not almost changed. Well, the cradle, of course, has got the imprint of the national feature of a particular nation, but as a construction, everything is remained as before: a wooden baby’s bed with high sides; cradles often have curved bases so that they rock from side to side, and the sides are connected with a long handle-bridge from above.

In the Turkmen language, a baby rocking bed is called “sallançak” (sallanchak), despite the development of modern technologies, including the furniture industry, it is still has a noteworthy place in Turkmen families. And hereditary craftsmen have been learning the craft of making a cradle for years so that, having perfected all the niceties of the production process, they can find their only secret of the “ideal” baby’s bed.

The job is responsible as according to ready-made thousand-year-old patterns, you need to create something of your own, something that will continue the “lullaby” tradition by its very appearance.

Calculations for length, width, height are not recorded anywhere and by anyone. This engineering arithmetic is passed down from one cradle master to another cradle master.

Craftsmen speak with special warmth about wooden cots. For them, the cradle is not just a thing, it looks like a miracle, because it is here a child will grow up, it can be described as the very first house of a newborn person.

With any movement of the child, the cradle can rock from side to side as lulling him. The baby himself is carefully fixed with a wide band so that he does not fall out.

The lullaby tradition of the Turkmen is closely linked with the touching Turkmen lullaby “Huvdi”. This is one of the oldest genres of musical folklore, which arose at a time when the spoken word was endowed with such power that it was like a magic. Simple verses that lull the baby magically influenced the mind of the child. And the sacred meaning of lullabies was, mostly, to protect the child from troubles and misfortunes.

Since ancient times, people believed that evil spirit gains special power over the baby during his sleep, that is why the lullaby was as a kind of amulet that guarded the sleeping child. In addition, lullabies are often used to pass down the encrypted “codes” of ethnic mentality as the kid, who still cannot speak, is listening to the lullaby in native language. In the Turkmen lullabies “Huvdi” (“Alla”), the child’s parents sang to him about their love and affection.

“Huvva-huv” or “Alla-huv”, repeated after each verse, have the same meaning as in Russian lullabies “bayu-bai” – a repetitive hex. The lyrics often include an individual improvisation of a mother lulling a baby:

You are my amulet at the wedding
You are my flower every day.

Lullabies are used not just as a sleep aid for infants. It is, first of all, emotional and sound bond between parents and their child. The baby understands words through the intonation of the mother, feeling the love and care of loved ones.

This is how a thousand years ago, Sallanchak cradle became a part of the nomadic culture of the peoples who at those times lived in Central Asia, and managed to survive to this day and even take its place in this modern high-tech world. It was thanks to its catchy symbolism, which was highly praised by the nomadic tribes. The message of the baby cradle is the endless life cycle, from birth to death that is passed down every time from generation to generation thorugh it. The cradle that gave rise to the whole people of Central Asia, for certain.

Janmamed GULAMOV