Kırkpınar oil wrestling festival
Inscribed in 2010 (5.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
- Kırkpınar oil wrestling festival
The Kırkpınar oil wrestling festival takes place in Edirne, Turkey. Thousands of people from different age groups, cultures and regions travel every year to see Pehlivan (wrestlers) fight for the Kırkpınar Golden Belt and the title of Chief Pehlivan. Each festival is launched by its patron, the Kırkpınar Aga, in a ceremony featuring forty bands of davul drums and zurna shawms. The golden belt is carried through the city in a procession, followed by prayers recited in the Selimiye Mosque. The wrestling bouts customarily take place at the Men’s Field. The master of ceremonies introduces the Pehlivans to the audience, reciting in verse their names, titles and skills. Next, the oil man oils the wrestlers assisted by the towel holder, before the warm-up exercises and greetings. The wrestlers each wear kıspet, thick trousers made of water buffalo or cow leather. As the wrestling takes place, the drum and shawm bands play the traditional repertoire of the festival. Kırkpınar oil wrestling is open to men from all cultures, regions and ages without discrimination between religion, language or race. Pehlivans are considered exemplary figures in society with attributes such as generosity, honesty, respectfulness and adherence to traditions and customs. All Pehlivans are trained in the master-apprentice tradition.
Decision 5.COM 6.42
The Committee (…) decides that [this element] satisfies the criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, as follows:
- R.1: The Kırkpınar oil wrestling festival is strongly rooted in the practitioner community as a symbol of identity and continuity highlighting the virtues of generosity and honesty and reinforcing members’ bonds with tradition and custom, thus contributing to social cohesion and harmony;
- R.2: Its inscription on the Representative List could contribute to the visibility of intangible cultural heritage worldwide and encourage dialogue, since the wrestling festival is an arena for intercultural contact;
- R.3: Safeguarding measures reflecting the combined efforts and commitment of government authorities, the practitioner community, academic institutions, NGOs, and the media aim at long term safeguarding of the festival through training courses and festivals, creation of a museum, and academic publications;
- R.4: The nomination process included participation of a broad range of practitioners, academics, NGOs and authorities; the practitioner community gave its free, prior and informed consent to the nomination;
- R.5: The Kırkpınar oil wrestling festival is included in the Turkish National Inventory for Intangible Cultural Heritage, established under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
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