Some historians and art historians believe that the image of the Shamakhan queen does not belong either to a specific type of national culture or to any historical era. And they consider her a character not so much folklore as literary, that is, completely fictional. Other researchers and critics argue that the mysterious eastern diva has very real prototypes.
At the beginning of the 19th century in Russian literature, along with the images of beautiful Slavic princesses, such as the Tsar Maiden in the poem by G. Derzhavin (1816) and the beautiful Zarya-Zaryanitsa in P. Ershov's fairy tale "The Little Humpbacked Horse" (1833), an amazing and unusual the character is a basurmanskaya maiden warrior, not at all like the golden-haired kupaven. In 1834 P. Katenin's poem "Princess Milusha" and "The Tale of the Golden Cockerel" by A. Pushkin were published. A black-browed chubby beauty in the image of the Shamakhan queen is present in the authors of both literary works. And as you know, the creation of a literary hero is most often based on the use of prototypes.
The most common assumption that the Shamakhan queen had a historical prototype is associated with the persona of the second wife of Ivan the Terrible. Russian monarchs often became related to foreigners, concluding interstate marriages. This contributed to the strengthening of the state and prevented incest. But for the first time in history, a representative of the Caucasian peoples became the wife of a Rusich. The pride of the Circassians, the Pyatigorsk Circassian woman Goshany (Kucheny) was the daughter of the Kabardian prince Temryuk, who in 1557 initiated the conclusion of an alliance of the Caucasian states with Russia. Her striking beauty and witchcraft feminine charms haunted the not so long ago widowed Russian tsar. Having become the wife of Ivan the Terrible, the mountain princess was named Maria of Circassia and stayed as the Russian tsarina for more than seven years.
The young basurmanka tried to fulfill the duties assigned to her and to be the conductor of the interests of Caucasian diplomacy in Russia. But she did it very ineptly, devoting much less time to government issues than to pleasures, amusements and hunting. Being a daring, ambitious nature, possessing a wild disposition and a tough soul, she was absolutely alien in the Russian environment. Maria Temryukovna has earned herself the fame of a "black crow", a rabid Circassian woman and a wild steppe cat. Its negative influence on the king is explained by the manifestations of his penchant for terror and cruelty. History is silent about how Ivan Vasilyevich managed to free himself from the spell of the oriental beauty. But there were rumors that after her death, Ivan the Terrible vowed not to marry foreign women again.
The assumption that Pushkin used Maria Cherkasskaya as the prototype of the Shamakhan queen for his fairy tale belonged to A. Akhmatova. But the Pushkin scholars argue that this is not the case.
There is a version that the Georgian queen from the Bagration dynasty Tamara became the prototype of the mysterious Shamakhan queen. Her rule in the history of Georgia is called the "golden age" and the flourishing of Georgia. A contemporary called her not a queen, but a king, for she ruled wisely and justly, was an excellent diplomat and a good military leader, she could lead an army herself. For great achievements, diligence and hard work, mercy and obedience, the Georgian church canonized Queen Tamar. "A vessel of wisdom, a smiling sun, a radiant face, a slender reed" - by no means all the epithets with which the court poets of the 12th century justly awarded her.
Having ascended the throne, the smart and strong-willed daughter of George III, could not rule without a reliable companion and military leader. She chooses as her husband the son of Andrei Bogolyubsky, Prince Yuri the Russian. For Tamara, this marriage was political, concluded in the interests of the state. And the enamored prince was captured by the enchanting beauty of Tamara and could not imagine life without the queen. His heart is forever broken. But the queen was cold to her husband, and he began to fight for love, deciding to conquer it with the help of weapons. Yuri sows confusion among the Georgian people, rousing people to revolt against the ruler. Exiled to Byzantium, gathers the Greek army and again goes to war against Georgia. He even went to the Polovtsians to recruit an army and defeat Tamara in battle. The misadventures of the Russian prince would not end if he had not suffered defeat in the battle against the army, which was headed by Tamara herself. Realizing that in this way family happiness cannot be returned, Yuri left the Georgian kingdom forever. But he did not return to the Russian lands to his father either, having disappeared forever who knows where.
This is how the legend of the enchanting and destructive beauty of Queen Tamara was born, which was reflected not only in Georgian folklore, but also in the legends of the Russian people. It is believed that one of these legends was told by the nanny to the great poet, and inspired him to create in the fairy tale the character of the Shamakhan queen …
The Avar khansha Pakhu-bike is recognized as one of the prototypes of the Shamakhan queen. As regent of the minor heir of Avaria Khan Sultan-Ahmed, who died in 1826, she was in fact the ruler of Khunzakh. The khansha made state decisions with general consent and advice with her comrades-in-arms, for which she was highly respected by the people. Active and warlike, intelligent and beautiful, this woman rode through her estates on horseback, accompanied by her retinue. The ruler became famous because during the religious strife in Dagestan she managed to inspire the abreks to fight the army of Imam Kazi-mullah. This victory, as well as the wars of Pakhu-beke with the Avar rulers Gazi-Muhammad and Gamzat, were aimed at improving relations with the Russian authorities in the Caucasus.
It is believed that this very image was taken as a basis by P. Kotenin when creating the character of the fairy tale "Princess Milusha" (1834). The name of the Shamakhan queen is Zulfira, which means "having superiority." She is the rival of Milusha, whose fiancé, Vseslav Golitsa, enters with Zulfira to fight for her lands. However, the Russian prince falls under the spell of the warrior-maiden, whose appearance the sorceress Proveda took in order to test him for loyalty to the bride. And the Shamakhan queen wins, not allowing the stranger to conquer their lawful lands.
It is worth noting that the appeal to these historical figures, as to the prototypes of the eastern diva, is quite probable. Since the beginning of the 19th century, when literary works appeared, in which there is a mention of a certain mysterious Basurman ruler, it was marked by the inclusion of some regions of the Caucasus in Russia.
The people began to call the Eastern "Tsar Maiden", "Kupavna Basurmanskaya" the Shamakhan Queen, possibly because in Russia the North Caucasian rulers and masters were called "Shamkhals". But most of all, in the studies of historians and literary scholars, assumptions about where this mysterious woman comes from is associated with the eastern country of Shirvan. The capital of this sovereign khanate was the city, which was founded in the 15th century by the Arab commander Shammakh. Hence the name - Shamakh (or Shemakh) - that which belongs to Shammakh. Annexed to the Russian Empire in 1820, the city still exists today. It is located on the southern foothills of the Caucasus Range, 114 km north of the capital of Azerbaijan, Baku. The well-known Soviet and Russian orientalist, professor of St. Petersburg University T. Shumovsky, who spent his childhood and adolescence in Shamakhi, says that there are no historical facts indicating that there was ever a famous ruler there. However, until now this place is called the city of the "shamakhan queen".
In the mid-30s of the 19th century A. Marlinsky mentioned the Shamakhan region in his Caucasian story "Mulla-Nur". In A. Norov's library there were magazines with publications of participants in military operations who were captured by the Eastern princes, who wrote about mysterious women from the Shah's seraglio in Shamakhi. By the way, in addition to beauty, they captivated foreigners with their mysterious dances.
Russian travelers and memoirists wrote about these lands in their notes. The eastern state maintained diplomatic relations with China and Venice, and Russian merchants visited this trade center during the time of Ivan the Terrible. A mulberry tree was grown here, the leaves of which serve as food for the silkworm, and therefore these regions have long been famous for their silks. Noble ladies wore dresses made of Talaman (Shamakhan) silk, rich princes sewed liveries from it for their servants. From silk tents (and they were made especially for hunting or hiking) miracles appear in the tales of Pushkin and Ershov. In the draft of the manuscript "The Tale of the Golden Cockerel", Pushkin scholars found the stargazer as a Shamakhan sage. And in the fabulous description of his appearance there is an indication of the white color of shamakhan silk: on his head there is a “white Sarachin hat” and he looks “like a gray swan”.
There are no names of women rulers of Shamakhi in the existing historical documents. Therefore, it is recognized that the Shamakhan queen is a fictional person, devoid of specific historical features, except that she is a contemporary of the legendary Russian princes. This is a conventional image of an oriental beauty, masculinely warlike and firm in decisions, wayward and courageous in her actions and, at the same time, insidious and seductive. The name Shamakh in translation from Arabic means "rising up, proud". This means that the Shamakhan queen is also the queen of pride.
Over time, the artistic image of the fairytale heroine changed. The costume created in 1908 by I. Bilibin for N. Rimsky-Korsakov's opera The Golden Cockerel does not in any way correlate with the image of the Shamakhan queen on Soviet postcards by artist V. Rozhkov (1965).
In the hand-drawn cartoon "The Tale of the Golden Cockerel" by the Soyuzmultfilm studio, filmed in 1967, the oriental beauty looks completely different.
But both the external appearance and the internal content of this fairytale character have undergone changes. Such qualities as valiant belligerence and decency disappeared, turning her from a just and wise oriental ruler into an evil, power-hungry and insidious woman. Today, the essence of the image of the Shamakhan queen is in her charms and witchcraft beauty, completely devoid of the traits of mercy, humanism, and therefore bringing death to the world.
This is exactly how it appears in modern interpretations:
- The surname Shemakhanskaya is carried by an employee of the fairytale research institute of extraordinary services - one of the heroines of the musical film fairy tale "Magicians" (1982). Being responsible in this phantasmagoric institution for creating a magic wand, Kira Anatolyevna tries to use it to decide the fate of the bride and groom (Alena and Ivan) at her discretion. But when magic does not work, she has to show female cunning, resort to tricks and meanness.
In 2010, the Melnitsa studio presented the full-length cartoon Three Heroes and the Shamakhan Queen. His heroine is an old woman hiding under the niqab who wants to regain her former beauty.
And at the same time, she intends to use witchcraft in order to marry the Kiev prince and become the mistress of all his lands. In search of the source of eternal youth, she appears before the audience as the embodiment of anger and deception.
- The oriental temptress in a computer game based on this cartoon is shown not at all the best angle.
In the fabulous verse "remake" of the author J. Bil, the first publication of which dates back to January 30, 2018, nothing new has been added to the image of the oriental temptress either.
Only deceit and love. And also beauty, which does not "save the world" at all, but only destroys those who have been seduced by it.