http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/en/RL/00179

Âşıklık (minstrelsy) tradition

Inscribed in 2009 (4.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Country(ies): Turkey

Identification

Description

Âşıklık (minstrelsy) tradition

The Âşıklık (minstrelsy) tradition of Turkey is performed by wandering poet-singers known as âşıks. Dressed in traditional clothes and plucking a stringed saz, the âşık is a common performer at weddings, in coffeehouses and during public festivals of all sorts. The âşık is called in a dream to undertake a long apprenticeship in the arts of playing string and percussion instruments, singing, storytelling and repartee that form the heart of the vocation. The poems they recite, usually about love, are written in rhymed syllabic meter and end with a quatrain in which the âşık utters the Mâhlas, his pseudonym. Their improvisational performances may also include riddles, folk tales, verbal duels of wit and creativity with other âşıks, and verses sung while the minstrel holds a needle in his mouth to force him to recite poems avoiding B, P, V, M and F sounds. Because âşıks travel between communities, they help to spread cultural values and ideas and to facilitate a robust social dialogue, in part through topical poetry and social and political satire. At weddings in particular, âşıks are regarded as instructors and guides whose tradition draws on and enriches Turkish literary culture and the daily lives of communities throughout the country.

Documents

Decision 4.COM 13.72

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 Âşıklık (minstrelsy) tradition from Turkey is deeply rooted in social life and gives identity and continuity to its community; it constitutes a living tradition that is passed on from master to apprentice, always evolving as it is practised;
  • R.2: Inscription of the element on the Representative List would not only contribute to visibility and recognition of intangible cultural heritage, but would particularly motivate youth to preserve the tradition and would bring communities closer together, thus having a significant impact on national and international levels;
  • R.3: The nomination includes a wide range of safeguarding measures encompassing, among others, the revitalization of cafes where the tradition is practised, educational activities, as well as research programmes that will be carried out with the commitment and active participation of the Government and practitioners so as to ensure continuity of the element among the young;
  • R.4: The element was nominated with the involvement of the community, bringing together the Government, civil society representatives and practitioners who participated in the elaboration of the file and the identification of safeguarding measures, and who have given their free, prior and informed consent;
  • R.5: The element is included in the Turkish National Inventory for Intangible Cultural Heritage, established under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Slideshow

Video


© 2008 by Information and Documentation Center of Folk Culture / Ministry of Culture and Tourism

These videos (and many more) can also be consulted through the UNESCO Archives Multimedia website