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Woman’s everyday world in Kazakh society (19th — early 20th centures)

The purpose of this article is to analyze the everyday world of women in Kazakh traditional society in the 19th — early 20th centuries. The object of the analysis was researches of foreign and domestic authors, as well as a large historical material from archival funds, which depicts the daily life and legal status of a Kazakh woman. Based on unpublished materials from the archives of Russia and Uzbekistan, and published data, the organic connection of changes in the women position in traditional Kazakh society with the progressive development of society during the turn of eras, with the emergence of new values of the patriarchal family is shown. The analysis of the materials demonstrates that, undoubtedly, the patriarchal way of life left a distinct imprint on everyday life and the secondary position of women in Kazakh society. However, the author comes to the conclusion that, despite this fact, women in everyday life were able to adapt to the harsh patriarchal conditions of existence. Moreover, they knew how to formalize their participation in it. The position of a Kazakh woman in the community was determined by her place in the family and genealogical hierarchy, adat and sharia norms, age and personal qualities. She had the opportunity to show her skills where the public and social need of the community arose. In addition, the breath of the era of «Great Reforms» gradually expanded the range of legal opportunities for women and created conditions for the practical implementation of her high potential.


The peculiarity of the historiography of the «women’s issue» in the traditional Kazakh society during the period of the epochs turn is reflected in the fact that it has not yet received a complete description. A large range of issues, namely: «widow’s destiny», family hierarchy, women’s professions, public status, women and their illegitimate children, female crimes, causes of death and many other interesting things, allowing to immerse in the inner world of woman are still waiting for their researchers.


The methodological basis of this study is the classical concept of the scientific method as a theoretically grounded normative means of cognizing objective reality. The work is based on the principles of methodological pluralism, historicism, consistency and objectivity. The research takes into account the modern world trends in the theory of historical science, including the postmodern paradigm and its criticism, the latest research in the field of historical discourse. The theoretical and methodological basis of the paper is the complex use of various approaches, methods and assessments used in interdisciplinary research.

Results and Discussion

In general, summarizing scholars’ inferences on this issue, it is possible to note that in the study of the history of Kazakh women’s life, a number of approaches were determined, i.e., from characterizing «her as a slave in relation to the male part of the population» to the opinion that «women in Kazakh history occupied a prominent place and sometimes exceeded men in military affairs» [1, 2]. Due to a limited space, we will not retell the polar views of researchers on this issue, and only note that this problem does not cease to attract the attention of specialists at present as well.

On the one hand, getting acquainted with the materials of pre-revolutionary historiography (and this is one of the main sources on this issue), the researcher involuntarily pays attention to the fact that basically, all those who studied the social history of Kazakhs agreed on the subordinate position of a woman: she is powerless, unhappy, her destiny was predetermined from the moment of birth, and life is scheduled according to the norms of adat and sharia.

Let’s consider archival and other materials and bring a few excerpts for persuasion: «Women, except widows, and minors have no rights and their marriage is a purchase and sale» [3; l. 161 back side], or «…until now, the social position of Asian women is such that it degrades her to the rank of a slave in relation to the male part of the population» [4; l.67 back side]. Another episode from the archival document: «Ac- cording to the custom of the Kyrgyzs (hereinafter Kazakhs. — Zh.M.), unfortunately, preserved until this time, the woman is the subject of buying and selling. She is sold by her parents in the first years of her life, and after the payment of kalym (established price of women), becomes the property of the person who bought her and his clan. Some of the following circumstances, i.e., illness, ugliness and even the death of a fiancé do not free a woman from the kabbalah created for her by her parents’ selfish aspirations. In spite of the physical shortcomings of a fiancé, his timidity, vicious behavior, etc., a sold woman has no right to evade a marriage with him, and upon the death of the groom, before or after marriage, she passes into the use of her brother, or another close relative of the deceased, as a thing» [5; l. 140]. And in this archival document an interesting detail of the life of an Asian woman is introduced: «…It is not uncommon for women to engage in prostitution with a greedy purpose. Apparently, such cases require the intervention of the administration, in the sense of defense of the enslaved woman» [6; l. 68]. Almost in each issue of the «Kyrgyz steppe news- paper» for 1895 in the section «What is done in the steppe» there are materials about the death of a girl due to carelessness and oversight. For example, «The daughter of the Kyrgyz of the Jezdinsky volost, the same district, Ismagambet Berdin — Azhar, was left one sleeping at the laid fire, and from a tanned shirt she received burns on her abdomen, from which she died on the third day» [7; 3], or «In Kyzyltoprokovskaya volost, Akmola district, a girl of one and a half years old, daughter of Kirghiz Dzhaksylyk Aytabekov, Aim- zhamal, also died from burns. Her shirt burned from the candle, when the girl was left in the house» [8; 1]. and others. «Accidental» children’s deaths did not become the subject of legal proceedings. In any case, the investigative measures of state bodies were not reflected in the materials of the newspaper. Possibly, part of such deaths was the result of negligent attitude and poor care in families, where the level of income was extremely low.

There are many such «stories» about the status of women in traditional society. In part, this approach can be explained by the fact that in the period of the late empire, when the patriarchal structure of the Kazakhs began to change under the influence of the Russian Empire, the question arose about the spread of the Russian legal space in the steppe. In this regard, one of the issues that fell within the sphere of influence of Russian law was family and marriage relations, which were placed under the jurisdiction of the district authorities. However, «according to the regulation on March 25, 1891, all property, marriage and family affairs of the Kirghiz are submitted to the jurisdiction of the people’s court, the decisions of which, adopted at the volost congresses, are considered final and not subject to appeal» [5, l. 141 back side]. Therefore, it became necessary for officials to prove that «there is nothing whole and positive in adat hardly such customs as the rule of law can be tolerated in a comfortable state» [3, l. 161]. In addition, by its interference in the marriage and family affairs of the Kazakhs, the administration «did not allow only the manifestation of folk customs, in their crudest and most inhumane form. One might say, it defended oppressed women in exceptional cases. So, it always listened to the complaints of girls-children, forcibly given in marriage to decrepit and depraved old people. It opposed forced marriage, sometimes for boys, elderly and sickly widows, who begged the administration to save them from such desecration, etc.» [5, l. 140 back side].

In addition, as noted in the archival materials: «As for the Kyrgyz women, they looked at the representatives of the administration as their defenders and patrons» [5, l. 141]. As it is seen from the given material, the life of a woman was, undoubtedly, hard and tragic, and it is thought that this valuable material allows to feel the breath of a bygone time and look (albeit subjectively) at the everyday life of an ordinary Kazakh woman.

On the other hand, brief complimentary references to the life of Kazakh women can be found in the works of those who were firsthand familiar with Kazakh life. So, the authoritative historian-orientalist V.V. Grigoriev gave an interesting description of what he saw: «...with the participation of the nomads’ wives and daughters in the economy and with the impossibility of seclusion in the steppe, the position of women among the nomads was everywhere and always incomparably more independent and honorable than that of the settled peoples of Asia» [9; 114—115]. It is very interesting to bring here some separate notes, which were accompanied by the study of the Kazakh society, allowing, as it were, from the inside and in a multivariate way to «highlight» with a diagnostic «X-ray» seemed to have long been known plots, inspiring again and again to return to them: «At a young age, boys and girls freely participate in fun and amusement; in this respect, the Kyrgyz are strongly different from other Mahometan peoples: women do not cover their faces, do not hide from men and do not live their own special lives, like, for example, Tatars. As we have already seen, a Kyrgyz woman rides a horse, sings and has fun at the same time with men, and is not shy at all about her own people or foreigners» [10; 75].

According to E.D. Tursunov, the profession of akyn (poets who enter into an aitys dispute with each other) was very honorable among the Kazakhs, since he was the best representative of a whole family. Victory in the akyns competition brought respect and honor to the family among fellow tribesmen. The extraordinary abilities and creations of akyns, in which «obscenities and ambiguities should not be presented in a vulgar form, but witty and appropriately to silence or confuse the opponent», vividly illustrate the socially strong position of women in a patriarchal society, since: «There are both men and women among akyns. Of the 37 akyns aityses, whose texts were included in only the first volume of the academic edition of akyns, there were twenty women opposed to male akyns. One of these akyns was so skillful in a poetic dispute that she entered into a competition simultaneously with eight male akyns»[11; 111—112, 141]. The topics raised by the akyns in their disputes were far from «feminine»: ridicule of the opponent, people of his clan, customs, etc.

Women, along with men, took a part in military campaigns. Thus, the famous ethnographer A.M. Yanushkevich noted: «Kenesary lost 1,500 men, two guns and 500 girls. Of the several hundred prisoners, only about ten were given to him, and the rest were sold to Tashkent residents. His army is made up of many women and girls, disguised as men...» [12; 1231].

As can be seen from the above excerpts, the variants of women’s everyday life generally coincide with each other. We would like to supplement them with a reference to interesting material from the article by R. Shombal-Kukashev on the participation of half-naked Kazakh women in the memorial ritual «Tuie sheshu» up to the turn of the twentieth century, which in general allows us to consider them a phenomenon of the same order [13; 351—373].

So, who was the woman in Kazakh society: a «slave of a cruel master» (spouse) or a full (legally) member of the tribal community? Let us make a cautious guess on this matter.

The nomadic world, being a male and conservative world in its essence, formed stable stereotypes in relation to the Kazakh woman and imposed them in everyday life. The head of a nomadic family was perceived as a protector and patron, and therefore, had complete power over wives and children. A man not only treated a woman as being inferior in position: «...until now, the social position of an Asian woman is such that it reduces her to the level of a slave in relation to the male part of the population» [1; 629—638], but also critically assessed her mental abilities and social competences: «Әйелдің шашы ұзын, ақылы қысқа» (a woman’s hair is long, but her mind is short), «Қатын бастаған көш оңбас» (the work started by a woman is doomed to failure), etc. The dependent and subordinate position of a woman was generated by everyday life — the nature of the nomadic economy, everyday concern for the main wealth of the nomad — livestock and determined the high status and leading role of men in the patriarchal family, in general — the tribal community. In addition, the norms of adat, which regulated the life of the community members, consolidated the leading role of men: he was the head of the patriarchal family, spoke at meetings on behalf of the family, had the right to participate in public life, and was the owner of property.

Severity reigned in relation to children in the clan family, and in the event of disobedience, the parents had the right to apply various penalties: «the father’s authority extended even to the life of the children» [14]. The participation of women in men’s conflicts and disputes caused irritation and was condemnedby the male community.

In Kazakh society, according to the norms of customary law, the custom of amengerism prevailed, according to which a woman, after the death of a spouse, passed to his closest relative (most likely, to an older brother). The same fate awaited the daughter-in-law, who, after the death of the groom, if kalym had been paid for her by that time, became the property of the family of the failed spouse. Of course, it can be assumed that such a fate did not always suit the woman. However, this inhuman, at first glance, transfer of a woman by the relatives of the deceased into «alien» hands, in our opinion, solved several problems. First, a woman and her children were considered the property of a spouse and his clan as a whole. In a complex environment, where livestock farming was considered risky due to the harsh continental climate and required the complex efforts of the community members, each of its members influenced the well-being of the collective with their work. This need was especially felt in women’s hands, since a woman in Kazakh auls performed a huge number of functions: she assembled and disassembled a yurt, fed, dressed, milked, etc. Secondly, the tribal community was not interested so much in the woman as in her offspring — the half-blood relatives (descendants) of this clan. Refusal/theft of a woman shook the foundations of the clan community in quantitative terms and influenced the status of this clan in the eyes of society. Thirdly, the woman’s desire to avoid marriage to an unloved person was suppressed in every possible way by the man’s сlan, since it could lead to her and her offspring impoverishment and insecurity in the harsh conditions of nomadic life. To nomadize in the steppe alone with children is tantamount to a severe death. In the «alien» clan, the widow and children found the patronage and protection of wealthy relatives, which was important first of all for the woman herself, since a beggarly existence would be in plain sight and would cast a shadow on the reputation of her family and clan. Therefore, it is understandable why the Kazakh customary law was peremptory in this matter: «So, according to the concepts of the Kirghiz, the indisputability of the right to a brother’s widow should be as unquestionable as the owner’s right to the skin from his own horse»; and provided for violent measures if a woman refused to marry a relative of her deceased spouse, and «...if, contrary to custom, she expresses a desire to marry» a stranger other than Amengers, then one of the latter takes her for himself by force [15; 251—252]. The norms of adat applied harsh penalties for the abduction of a woman: «If someone takes away his wife from someone without the consent of his wife, then the guilty person is punished with death» [16; 65].

Undoubtedly, for a modern person, the customs of the patriarchal family will seem strict and devoid of any sentimentality. Nevertheless, was the woman so powerless and unhappy in the Kazakh traditional society?

With the final entry of the Kazakh lands into the Russian Empire, the former social and economic system began to collapse. The appearance of the steppe gradually changed, including new non-traditional features for it: from the desacralization of power (first of all, we mean the elimination of the khan’s power) to the beginning of a crisis in the patriarchal family. The spiritual world of women from the second half of the 19th century also begins to change gradually. Of course, there is no reason to talk about a deep crisis of the family, about its radical transformation. However, getting acquainted with archival materials, we begin to hear the voices of women in their desire to defend their right to choose, to greater independence in issues that were previously considered asthe prerogative of men.

Despite the fact that the norms of adat tenaciously kept in their positions, the daily life of the community members, a Kazakh woman received a legal opportunity to apply to a Russian court. According to the «Provisional Regulations 1867—1868» the woman received the right to apply to a Russian court. In overwhelming cases, the legal tradition applied extrajudicial reprisals, physical violence by her husband and relatives, but more often universal censure to a woman. So, if «a pregnant woman kills her husband, she is neither during pregnancy, nor after giving birth, is not punished by anything, but remains dishonorable, no one will take her into marriage, and will not be accepted in the congregation» [17; 147]. Thus, a woman who violated generally accepted rules became an outcast of society. It should be noted that «the murder of women in the steppe has always been the rarest example» [18; 229].

Let’s continue with examples on specific material. One of the interesting sources on Kazakh law is he- rezhe, which is regulations or resolutions adopted by “biys” before the start of the extraordinary congress. Materials of extraordinary congresses allow the researcher to conclude that in the second half of the 19th — early 20th centuries the «silent majority» not only began to realize their rights, but were also ready to defend their interests even in case of public execution and expulsion from the community. In this regard, an excerpt from herezhe, in 1896, of the extraordinary congress of people’s judges of Ust-Kamenogorsk and Semipalatinsk districts, deserves attention. In the section «Matrimonial and family matters», we find an interesting plot that gives the researcher the opportunity to establish the degree of participation of an “illiterate” woman seeking a divorce from her unloved spouse: She must apply (hereinafter, italics is mine. — Zh.M.) to the society with a request to force her husband to give her a divorce... she must ask the volost ruler for the paper with the state seal that the offended woman could not get a formal divorce from her husband. Such a paper gives her the right to demand a divorce from her husband at the Biys congress or to petition the authorities to grant her the right to marry someone else» [1; 629—638]. Although,walking in agony was associated with large material costs and did not guarantee her a positive solution to the issue, the very fact of the appearance of such a precedent deserves attention and speaks, most likely, not so much about the facilitation of the female share, but about her sensitive perception of future changes and the desire for personal freedom.

Women’s voices and actions were filled with new content under the influence of Russian laws. So, in the herezhe, adopted at the congress of biys in 1899, on the Kub-Kul Lake, it was written: «If the husband

According to the norms of adat, Kazakhs who had repeatedly committed offenses were removed from the aul and wandered in the steppe alone. Expulsion from the community was equated with the most severe punishment.

innocently beat his wife and gave a divorce of his own free will, then nothing can be demanded from her, but, on the contrary, she must take her property (italics is mine. — Zh.M.) (§ 15)» [19; 132]. Let us remind that according to the norms of customary law, a woman had no rights to family property.

It should be noted that the decision in favor of the woman was made not only in the district court. There were judicial precedents for the interpretation of this issue, which entered the practice of the court of biys and changed this norm to a certain extent. Thus, «Abai’s beloved wife, Aigerim, was betrothed in childhood to a young man from the Mamai clan. After her fiancé died, the rights to her passed to his older brother, an elderly man. Abai managed to prevent this Aigerim’s marriage only by paying her father in full and satisfying all the material claims of her fiancé» [20; 45—46].

At the same time, the extraordinary congress of people’s judges at Kurban-Kaik (1896) consolidated the «revolutionary» by that time norm «Article 4. Let a widow marry of her own free will» [1; 562—564]. Above, the importance of the custom of amengerism for the Kazakh society was noted, therefore this article, adopted at the congress, is a judicial attempt to abolish the previous custom, according to which «a widow must certainly marry brother or any of her husband’s relatives. It used to be a trouble to the widow if she decided not to follow the custom. The disobedient was brutally persecuted, subjected to torture, until she finally expressed her consent to get rid of the torment» [18]. Of course, some isolation of the nomadic world, conservative views on the established order created a fertile ground for autocracy, cruelty and despotism. However, the world was changing and the emerging desire of women for personal freedom gradually changed the previous way.

Civil litigation has also sprung up among women. As an example, we will cite the case considered in the note about the Kazakh court by I. Ibragimov: «The essence of the request of this Kyrgyz woman (Kazakh woman — Zh.M.) turned out to be that she married her son a year ago, having paid a full kalym, for her daughter-in-law, and transported her to her aul; but here the latter, after the winter, began to express her dis- pleasure,...the daughter-in-law went back to her own clan.… To the biy’s question: why he (the father of the daughter-in-law —Zh.M.) was detaining her, he answered that the husband of his daughter was not capable of marital life the young man, as incapable of fulfilling his marital duties, lost his wife. The biy ordered to return the property and dowry of his wife to her» [21; 307]. In this example, two things stand out. First, as mentioned above, women are more likely to resort to judicial protection in order to get rid of their «unloved / cruel / greedy» spouse with the help of justice. «One Governor of complaints about marriage and family matters received 282 complaints in 1890—1892» [5, l. 141back side]. Secondly, it should be recognized that the range of responsibilities and rights of adult women have expanded significantly, and if earlier a man or his relatives were unambiguously appearing in court in family disputes, now sometimes an adult woman became the guarantor of the family’s property rights and an effective defender of her honor and dignity. Undoubtedly, a Kazakh woman in extremely rare, exceptional cases decided to seek protection in the district court. Family conflicts, as a rule, were of a hidden nature, they were tried to be resolved secretly from others — «not taking out dirty linen from the yurt». In addition, «whatever the result of her complaint, she, nevertheless, must return to her native nomads, where she can be met not only with revenge from those whom she complained about, but also with indiscriminate censure of her deed from the rest inhabitants of the steppe» [5, l. 142 back side].

At the same time, it can be assumed that the woman was not just a silent witness of the events taking place around her, moreover, she unconsciously became an active defender of her legal status.

Traditionally, Kazakhs were not responsible to the community, did not take part in solving important issues. Researchers of Kazakh law in the first half of the 19th century formulated one of the principles of community life as: «The females, as well as workers, servants and slaves, are not allowed to testify» [23; 91— 131, 154—186], or «Women are not accepted as witnesses in any cases, and they are never involved in court cases» [17]. In traditional society, it was considered indecent if a woman intervened in the conversation of men, gave advice unnecessarily, was intrusive. However, Kazakh women did not remain indifferent to the mundane life of the nomadic community. The participation of women is vividly illustrated by the seasonal migration of Kazakhs, in which an important role is assigned to the wisest and most experienced women: «The order of migration is as follows: the main concern of collecting, folding and packing wagons and property lies with women. The hostess is riding ahead, usually on a horse, followed by other women on camels, and they carry the property; only rich women ride horses» [24; 248]. We find the same order in the clerk of the private Directorate of the Middle Horde Sosnovsky: «...the rest of the family, which is female and in complete obedience to the first,...following in front of or near their nomadic camels, watching over their walking and serviceability of the packs, and the rest of the women continue to roam in complete obedience to the first,...putting the wagons in the designated place, trying as soon as possible to put them against other families in full view of their existing ones» [25; 144—145].

Speaking about the social life of women, it should be noted that the «silent» and «fragile» Kazakh woman during acute conflicts could turn into a noisy and staunch defender of the rights and interests of her family: «...getting out of women from the wagon during an ordinary simple fight between men and her participation in it is considered obscene to her gender. Their intervention in the quarrel of men, which could end in nothing and their address to men with an indecent word or action, more likely irritates the latter than the offense of men» [18; 229]. The position of women in adat in this kind of «male» conflicts gave her a certain superiority, as they were rarely prosecuted. On this occasion, A.I. Myakutin remarked: «The same punishments are imposed for the offense of women as for the offense of men. But for offense to men from women, no punishment is imposed. Likewise, the Kyrgyz custom does not sort out quarrels between men and their wives» [26; 555].

Considering aforementioned examples, the intervention of a woman in word and deed in a male conflict was condemned by society, was considered indecent, nevertheless, it can be noticed timid attempts by women to convey their opinion (even with their fists) to members of the community.

In the hierarchy of the patriarchal family, adult women and grandmothers wielded a significant influence and power. For example, a special place in M. Auezov’s novel is occupied by the image of Kunanbai’s mother Zere, who was the elders of the clan enjoyed respectful attitude from the tribesmen and who had a significant influence. Elders like her are a very special member of the tribal community: if there were such elderly clan’s members, they spoke in favor of the «specialness» of this family, it meant the preservation of traditions, order in relationships, peace in the community. Most likely, an atypical example of the authority of a widowed elder was recorded by P.E. Makovetsky: «Sometimes it happens to see in the steppe that the aul is run by a woman — a widow» [27; 347]. It seems that economically independent women who possessed the traits of a strong person were in this position.

According to M.P. Vyatkin, the protracted conflict between Batyr Srym and Khan Yesim created an exacerbated situation in the Younger Zhuz. Under these conditions: «Sultans Esenaly and Zhantore sent people to the khan, and a letter to Srym with a proposal to come to the auls of khansha Urun, the widow of khan Nuraly, who at that time, in September 1796, was wandering around the river Hobdy. Srym also agreed to reconciliation. This is confirmed by the original letter from Srym to Khansha Urun» [28; 294]. In a difficult situation, the elderly khansha Urun acts as an essential element of the negotiations, whose authority and will acted as the guarantor of the security of the warring parties.

In this case, it can be assumed that a woman could act as a judge — biy, whose main task was to reconcile the conflicting parties. For example, according to K.N. Dautaliev, there were practically no cases of female judicial practice in the steppe, however, he gives an example of a woman named Tattybike from the Kypshak clan, who successfully resolved intra-clan disputes, acting as a “biy” judge and her decisions «bilik» ensured peaceful relations among relatives [29; 211—212]. Unfortunately, the researcher does not develop his idea further. It seems to us that the point here is not the lack of examples of the practice of women judges — we are dealing with an example of the patriarchal nature of the traditional Kazakh society, which resisted the independent legal practice of women due to the publicity and «non-femininity» of this profession.

We find sketches of existing morals, vivid characteristics of women’s destinies, in M. Auezov’s novel «Abai’s Way», in which the author managed to reveal the psychological images of women who held different status positions. The female hierarchy in Kazakh society was rather rigid. But whatever it was, it provided protection to the subordinates, gave reliable defense in the struggle for survival. If we compare the degree of protection of a woman in a patriarchal family and in modern society, then, of course, the traditional society, aimed at preserving the integrity of the clan community, provided each of its members with security and confidence in the future. This postulate is confirmed in the image of the shepherd Takezhan Isa’s mother, who was an old woman, Iis, worked from morning until late at night on the farm of the beys. This was the hard fate of the rebel Maken, who challenged society with her unwillingness to marry her hated husband. The atmosphere of permanent conflict reigned among the women of the famous biy, agha-sultan Kunanbai. No matter how difficult their relationship was, the patriarchal family leveled all existing social and family conflicts, because they were perceived by the community as a necessity, allowing the weak to weed out, and the activities of the strong were aimed at moving forward in the name of preserving the unity of the tribal community.

In traditional society, the kelin (daughter-in-law) had to adhere to certain rules that were transmitted through oral tradition. Thus, according to the norms of customary law, «the daughter-in-law hid all her life both from the husband’s father and from all his male ascending relatives. The daughter-in-law and father-inlaw avoid mutual meetings and often the father-in-law, even after many years of living in the same aul, does not recognize his daughter-in-law» [27; 333]. At the same time, we see a new attitude towards the daughterin-law, her status, on the example of the established relations in the Abai family: «Abish in a new officer’s uniform ran into his father's room and loudly gave him a salem. Magish was ashamed to enter with her husband and lingered outside the door. Abai did not accept the salem of his son. «Your wife is behind this threshold, he said sadly. — Don’t you think that it humiliates you — the officer, and me, your father? Bring her here and convince her that I am not the father-in-law whom the daughter-in-law should be afraid of» [30; 403]. About the scrupulousness of Abai in this regard, noted by M.O. Auezov, evidenced by a group photograph of Abai with his family, where he was captured with his sons, wife and daughter-in-law [20; 207].


Summarizing the above, we can deduce the assumption that the position of women in the Kazakh patriarchal society can hardly be called slavish and hopeless, and it is hardly worth measuring it by the standards of a modern person. Indeed, in pre-revolutionary and Soviet historiography, one can find many examples of the unsightly life of poor relatives with a «widow’s destiny», parasites, unhappy brides, etc., which, of course, existed in Kazakh society. Cruel and rough treatment of a woman is a reality that, unfortunately, is not unique to the patriarchal world. Nonetheless, they all lived in their native environment, among their relatives, were well-fed, their fate was predetermined from the moment of birth — this attention fulfilled one of the main functions of the patriarchal family. All the main concerns for the life of the community fell on the shoulders of women, who tried to make every effort to preserve the conservative patriarchal order. Not without reason Kazakhs used to say: «Қыз өзгерсе, ел өзгереді» (Changes in a woman change people). To perceive the harsh life of a simple Kazakh woman, as a series of disasters and physical torture, and the position in a «slave» society, in our opinion, would be inappropriate and incorrect.

In our opinion, the position of a Kazakh woman in the community was determined by her place in the family and genealogical hierarchy, the norms of adat and Sharia, age and personal qualities. Its activities were implemented primarily where the need of the community arose: from solving issues of everyday life (for example, relocation) to social activities as a judge, akyn, and others.

At the same time, the values of the patriarchal family in that period, adapting to the challenges of the new time, gradually began to yield their positions to the winds of change. Of course, the administrative reforms of the Russian government to a certain extent have pushed the boundaries of the woman’s rights and opportunities, and influenced the change in her inner world. However, it was women who eventually managed, in spite of everything, not only to defend their positions, but also to equalize their position in gender inequality.



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