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Bashkir Women Reflect On Modernity And Tradition

In Bashkortostan, a multiethnic republic within the Russian Federation, some women feel a conflict between the demands of their modern life and traditional expectations in their society. RFE/RL photojournalist Sergey Poteryaev has been exploring this internal tension and what ethnic identity means for females in the region. He previously published series on Tatar and Mari women. For this collection of photos, he asked women to close their eyes while thinking about what it means to be a Bashkir woman and recorded the responses they gave. They are dressed in traditional, antique clothing borrowed from the National Museum of the Republic of Bashkortostan in Ufa. (RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service)

Regina 29 years old, art historian "I think that the goal for a Bashkir girl is to be worthy of her nation and its history. It's important, while possessing gadgets, to build traditions into modern realities. I have made the breastplate necklace myself, and I plan to use ethnic patterns in my wardrobe further on."
1

Regina

29 years old, art historian

"I think that the goal for a Bashkir girl is to be worthy of her nation and its history. It's important, while possessing gadgets, to build traditions into modern realities. I have made the breastplate necklace myself, and I plan to use ethnic patterns in my wardrobe further on."

Salima 29 years old, artist at a television station "I am the daughter of my nation, not just my father and mother. I am constantly in search of information about the history of my ancestors. For a Bashkir girl, there is no big difference between the traditional and modern way of life. I like the traditional way and I feel comfortable in it. For example when my husband is hungry, I cannot let him eat a simple sandwich. And I had a dowry."
2

Salima

29 years old, artist at a television station

"I am the daughter of my nation, not just my father and mother. I am constantly in search of information about the history of my ancestors. For a Bashkir girl, there is no big difference between the traditional and modern way of life. I like the traditional way and I feel comfortable in it. For example when my husband is hungry, I cannot let him eat a simple sandwich. And I had a dowry."

Uraliya 13 years old, schoolgirl "I think that it is difficult to live with traditional values in the modern world. Nowadays, life is easier and that has certain consequences. Yet, I would like to have a big family and not to forget about my career."
3

Uraliya

13 years old, schoolgirl

"I think that it is difficult to live with traditional values in the modern world. Nowadays, life is easier and that has certain consequences. Yet, I would like to have a big family and not to forget about my career."

Lyaisan 31 years old, journalist "It's cool to be Bashkir. Even though we are different, there's a belligerence in our blood. Previously, when men went to war, women would take over all their responsibilities. However, is that equality?"
4

Lyaisan

31 years old, journalist

"It's cool to be Bashkir. Even though we are different, there's a belligerence in our blood. Previously, when men went to war, women would take over all their responsibilities. However, is that equality?"

Aisylu 29 years old, staff member at the Directorate of Cultural Programs "Although it is trivial, the first word that comes up to my mind is "beginning." In my opinion, in modern life it is very important to understand your roots in order to be strong."
5

Aisylu

29 years old, staff member at the Directorate of Cultural Programs

"Although it is trivial, the first word that comes up to my mind is "beginning." In my opinion, in modern life it is very important to understand your roots in order to be strong."

Regina 26 years old, museum tour guide "Times are changing, and so are we. But important things remain. I may not work in general, but I cannot sit still."
6

Regina

26 years old, museum tour guide

"Times are changing, and so are we. But important things remain. I may not work in general, but I cannot sit still."

Zalina 23 years old, student "A Bashkir woman is first and foremost the keeper of the hearth, and if everything is as it should be, the family will be fine. I always want to go somewhere. I am linked with my people this way. We love freedom."
7

Zalina

23 years old, student

"A Bashkir woman is first and foremost the keeper of the hearth, and if everything is as it should be, the family will be fine. I always want to go somewhere. I am linked with my people this way. We love freedom."

Shaura 40 years old, musician "I always felt the responsibility of being a Bashkir for my parents and grandparents. It's not pressure, rather something internal. And nowadays, I think we all should be able to be an engine for the family."
8

Shaura

40 years old, musician

"I always felt the responsibility of being a Bashkir for my parents and grandparents. It's not pressure, rather something internal. And nowadays, I think we all should be able to be an engine for the family."

Fatima 25 years old, development director at a company "A Bashkir girl is first of all characterized by sincerity and openness. I try to be like that myself, therefore all my emotions are immediately visible on my face. I love modern Bashkir jewelry and this is an example of how traditions can be trendy."
9

Fatima

25 years old, development director at a company

"A Bashkir girl is first of all characterized by sincerity and openness. I try to be like that myself, therefore all my emotions are immediately visible on my face. I love modern Bashkir jewelry and this is an example of how traditions can be trendy."

Jamiliya 29 years old, ecologist "Being a woman means knowing where you came from, and where you're going. I adjust to circumstances and do not complain."
10

Jamiliya

29 years old, ecologist

"Being a woman means knowing where you came from, and where you're going. I adjust to circumstances and do not complain."

Rozaliya 30 years old, specialist at a community center "Previously the role of a woman was in the background, but in reality everything was vice versa. I don't want to be a shadow of my husband, I want to keep the balance. I want to develop my own children even more and to teach them freedom."
11

Rozaliya

30 years old, specialist at a community center

"Previously the role of a woman was in the background, but in reality everything was vice versa. I don't want to be a shadow of my husband, I want to keep the balance. I want to develop my own children even more and to teach them freedom."

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