Nogays - Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs and Practices. Since perhaps the thirteenth or fourteenth century the Nogays have been Sunni Muslims, although pre-Revolutionary travelers have noted that the Nogays were not a very religious people. The pre-Islamic Nogay word for god is tengri, which is associated with the traditional animistic religion of the nomadic Turks. Important ceremonies are held at birth, marriage, and death, traditionally presided over by the mullah, the local religious leader. In the earliest sedentary communities one of the first permanent structures was a mosque, although the mullah would travel with the community during the summer.

Arts. Nogays once possessed a rich material culture in which they made all the articles of daily life. Special decorative techniques were applied to fabrics and jewelry. They also possessed a rich oral literature, including songs based on heroic epics known as batïr yïrlar or Kïska kazak yïrlar , such as "Mamay batïrdïng yïrï," "Shorabatïrdïng yïrï," "Targun batïrdïng yïrï," and "Edigeding yïrï." These were sung at weddings and other occasions.

Medicine. In the Soviet period sanitary conditions were improved and health care became widely available.

Death and Afterlife. Apparently there was a belief in the spirit of death following families in which many children had died. Such families would send their children to be raised by other families.

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