Tsiattista poetic duelling
Inscribed in 2011 (6.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
- Tsiattista poetic duelling
- © 2003 Larnaca Municipality
The lively, impromptu oral poetry known as Tsiattista is often performed to the accompaniment of violin or lute in ‘jousts’ in which one poet-singer attempts to outdo another with clever verses made up of rhyming couplets. It has long been a popular component of wedding feasts, fairs and other public celebrations, where eager crowds encourage poets to perform. The most common metrical form is the iambic fifteen-syllable verse in a rhyming couplet, although a poet may use eight-syllable, six-syllable or even nine-syllable verses. Successful tsiattistaes (poet-singers) exhibit ready wit, deep familiarity with poetic and musical traditions, a rich vocabulary and an active imagination. They have often been men of modest means and limited education who transmit their works only orally; these days, the poets are mostly old men but talented female poets have recently started performing. Poets must be well-versed in the Greek Cypriot dialect, possess adequate knowledge of the popular poetry of Cyprus and the ability to retrieve existing, well-known Tsiattista and, above all, must be able to improvise a new couplet on a specific theme within very strict time constraints and be able to respond to his or her opponent.
Decision 6.COM 13.12
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: An oral tradition that emphasizes improvisation and friendly competition, the Tsiattista provides the Cypriot community with a sense of identity and continuity and is recognized as a part of its intangible cultural heritage;
- R.2: Inscription of the Tsiattista on the Representative List could contribute to raising awareness about the importance of similar oral traditions worldwide and could thereby promote intercultural dialogue and awareness of the significance of the intangible cultural heritage;
- R.3: Recent and future safeguarding measures, including festivals and education programmes, highlight the commitment and combined efforts of the communities, the municipality of Larnaka and the State;
- R.4: The nomination process benefited from the active participation and wide support of relevant groups, community representatives and Tsiattista practitioners who gave their free, prior and informed consent;
- R.5: With the active participation of communities and relevant non-governmental organizations, the Tsiattista was included in the National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Cyprus created by the Cyprus Research Centre.
Inscribes Tsiattista poetic duelling on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
© George Sophocleous
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