BULGARS AND BASHKORTS

Many-many years ago Bulgars lived here. They had their own state and their Khan at the head. They say the Bulgars were a very strong, powerful and warlike nation. They adopted Islam1, as their religion, when Aidar Khan lived there. Earlier they had been pagans and worshipped idols. The reason was the following. Aidar Khan's daughter was seriously ill. She couldn't move her arms and legs. Various doctors came to examine her, but nobody could help.

When the Khan had lost all the hope for his daughter's recovery, his vizier, adviser, brought news about the arrival of three foreign tabibs, doctors, who brought different medicine, drugs and herbs. The tabibs were sent for and taken to the Khan's palace. The oldest of them examined the girl and said: "Your daughter suffers from paralysis. If you agree to fulfil two of my wishes, we'll be able to cure her." - "What are your wishes?" -"The first one is that you must adopt our Moslem religion, the second is you must let me marry your daughter."

The Khan agreed with him, but he made a warning: "If my daughter doesn't recover, you'll be beheaded."

The elder tabib plunged his staff into the big flower bed, which was inside the palace. Three of them were sitting for a while near that flower bed To everybody's surprise the stick turned into a young tree with fresh leaves on many branches. That staff was of abirch-tree. The tabib broke some branches with leaves and made a switch of birch twigs. Then he ordered to prepare a hot bath and wash the girl in it and beat her with a switch of birch twigs. They did so for quite a long time. And the girl could return home on her own feet.

After that miracle the Khan kept his promise and adopted the Moslem religion and made all Bulgars adopt Islam. They arranged a wedding party of the Khan's daughter and the old tabib.

The tradition to flog oneself with birch twigs in a steam bath has been kept from that time after that miraculous incident Since then a switch of green birch twigs has been considered a remedy. That's why ancient Bulgars considered a steam bath a medical establishment.

The Bashkorts lived in the woods at the distance of 15-20 day's walk from the Bulgars. They made their living by hunting and apiculture. The Bashkorts exchanged their products with the Bulgars. Usually they delivered pelts of beevers, minks and honey. Bashkort traditional foods were meat and fish, honey and koumiss*.

Thousand years ago Bashkorts were pagans and worshipped 40 gods. They heard about people, who could cure the Bulgars from diseases and considered them to be sacred ones. Those people came to the Bashkorts, as pilgrims. And Islam, as a religion began to spread among the Bashkorts, who lived by the rivers the Aghithel, the Ik, the Dim, the Tynip. For the Bashkorts those pilgrims ranked among saints.